March 19, 2017

Squirrel Broth

I was on the sofa with a cold last week. One evening I had a hankering to leave the house for a minute and get some fresh air, so I took my blanket out to the deck and watched the sun set. I was going to miss it entirely if I didn't just get up and go, so I ignored mrguy's entreaties to put on some shoes. As happens in such circumstances he called out "Don't go all William Henry Harrison on me," by which he means that he doesn't want me to go to inaugural day without my hat and then die. Then I started talking about squirrel broth, therefore setting off the age-old argument about which president died of a cold and which one, lingering from a gunshot wound, asked for squirrel broth.

So it was on this day that we stopped arguing and looked it up to find that it *was*, in fact, William Henry Harrison who died of a cold. 

I did not die of cold, as I used my blanket to keep my feet from touching the ground. And it was Garfield, lingering after a gunshot wound, who called for squirrel broth.

We can't recall where we learned of this story, but it smacks of Ken Burns. Or Sarah Vowell. And it seemed to be a little too good to be true. So then *that* needed investigating as well, because the story we had heard is that there were two girls who, upon hearing that the president had called out for squirrel broth, sent their pet squirrel to the capital to be made into soup. After some digging in I was able to verify the names of the girls, and via Ancestry I was able to confirm that these young ladies did, in fact, exist. What actually happened to the squirrel is up for debate. Ellie and Laura Hoke, I hope that your family has held onto and celebrated this story. I am so jealous.

 Hmmm, did they let it go or did the president's children keep it?

While researching this topic I also learned much about the indignities of Garfield's passing. Newspapers of the day spared their readers of no minute medical detail in reporting on the president's condition. Temperature, pulse rate, what he said to the doctor during a sponge bath and after vomiting. He received nourishment by both mouth and enema. To say I was surprised is an understatement.

The Enquirer had nothing on these people.

So ends the argument about William Henry Harrison v James Garfield. Mrguy is right.

1 comment:

Richard P said...

OK, our kid the American history buff is going to LOVE this squirrel broth story!

In downtown Cincinnati there is a statue of a man on horseback, and he said, "Oh, it's probably some obscure president like William Henry Harrison." We walked around to the other side to read the inscription—and he was correct.

Related Posts with Thumbnails