Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Dick Kemp Auction

The trucks, tractors, and other machines collected by Dick Kemp over the decades have been dispersed. His collection, which occupied the land along the Contoocook River once used for the Great Pierce Barbecue of 1852, was auctioned off on Saturday, July 25, 2009. The vehicle fetching the highest price was the 1947 Mack single axle dump truck above, which went for $29,000. When questioned by a reporter from the Concord Monitor, Kelly D'Errico, whose mother was Kemp's life partner, said of Kemp, "He's probably looking around and saying, what a bunch of idiots, paying this much."

While it's sad to see the Kemp Truck Museum go away, it is comforting to know the old stone oven used for the 1852 Pierce Barbecue remains, and a park will grow up around it, if the plans of the Hillsborough city fathers come to fruition.


A Collection Disperses: Vintage Trucks Auctioned Off by Maddie Hanna
The Great Pierce Barbecue of 1852
RIP Dick Kemp

Monday, July 20, 2009

The W. Threat

Jack Colwell, a local columnist and an astute observer of the political scene, wrote a piece titled "Say What You Will, But Bush Was Prudent" in the South Bend Tribune of July 19, 2009. He expresses a sympathetic view of former President George Herbert Walker Bush, and states, "Bush 41, though not winning a second term, won't go down in history as our worst president. Not when Bush 43 is on the list." Mr. Colwell goes on to say:
Bush 41 won't be ranked as a great president, but he won't end up in the bottom tier either. Not with James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Millard Fillmore, James Polk and Franklin Pierce. George W., though winning re-election over a hapless opposition, could end up in a close contest with ... well, maybe Millard. Possibly in a tie with Andrew Johnson in terms of impact on the nation.
Could Franklin Pierce's position in the bottom five be at risk?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

William Rufus DeVane King

Franklin Pierce is widely recognized--well, he's not widely recognized for anything, but among those who care about such things, he is recognized as one of the most obscure, if not the most obscure President of the United States. It should come as no surprise that his vice-president has been called "the least remembered man in American history" by historian Sol Barzman.

William Rufus DeVane King

King was ill with tuberculosis when he was nominated as Pierce's running mate in 1852, and had gone to Cuba for his health at the time of the inauguration in March of 1853. King had served several terms in the Senate and was the President pro tempore when his illness forced him to resign on December 20, 1852. King was allowed to take the oath of the office of vice-president in Cuba on March 24, 1853 by an act of Congress, giving him the distinction of being the only nationally-elected official to take the oath of office on foreign soil. He never made it to Washington, dying within two days of his return to his native Alabama, on April 18, 1853.

Much has been made of the fact that King lived with James Buchanan for 15 years in Washington, D.C. There is no clear documentary evidence that they had a homosexual relationship, but the nieces of the two men destroyed all correspondence between the two, fueling speculation. Andrew Jackson is said to have called King "Miss Nancy" and "Aunt Fancy." Aaron Venable Brown, who served as Governor of Tennessee from 1845-1847 and was a delegate to the Democratic Convention of 1852, is said to have referred to the housemates as "Buchanan and his wife." Apparently, Buchanan never heard Brown's characterization or was the forgiving type, because Brown was appointed Postmaster General during Buchanan's presidency.

A peculiar spinoff of the ambigous relationship of Buchanan and King can be found in a collection of oil paintings called All the Presidents' Girls by British artist Annie Kevans, wherein William King is the only male among the thirty portraits of Presidential mistresses.