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  • Ednold

Like It or Lump It! 6/28/21

I was originally going to call this story Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, but my name’s not Ripley and the whole Believe It Or Not thing is a registered trademark. So, welcome to the 4th of July Edition of Ednold’s Like It Or Lump It! It’s the same type of thing as Believe It Or Not, only… Well, it’s kind of exactly the same thing. I’m going to present you with some facts that will be extremely fascinating, enthralling even, and very difficult to believe, and you can decide whether to Like It Or Lump It! Got it? And after you read this, or listen to it, you will be the center of attention at your 4th of July picnic, spouting enthralling facts about our country’s birthday, and some other random stuff I decided to throw in just for fun. And YOU will be the one asking everyone to Like It Or Lump It! OK. So maybe I’m the only one who thinks any of this is enthralling, but it’s still worth it just to be able to say Like It Or Lump It! Am I right? Here we go.

Since July 4th is almost upon us, let’s begin with a little 4th of July history. As everyone knows, our founding fathers were gathered together in Philadelphia back in the summer of 1776 to decide what they were going to do about the colonists’ unhappiness with their king. After 33 -year-old Thomas Jefferson completed writing his letter to King George III, letting him know that his services were no longer required and the people on this side of the ocean would be running their own affairs from now on, one of the other people to sign that letter was 40 year old John Adams. We all know now that they would both eventually go on to serve as President of the new United States, but nobody back then knew that was going to happen, and it took a while.

They had to fight and win a Revolutionary War first. Then, after their first attempts at putting together a government didn’t work very well, they had to write a constitution. Then they had to decide who was going to occupy all of the federal offices. It wasn’t until 13 years later, in 1789, that George Washington was inaugurated president, then it took another 8 years for him to leave office so that Adams could take over. So that 40 year old signer of the Declaration of Independence was 61 by the time he became president, and by that time he and his Vice President, Thomas Jefferson, had some serious differences of opinion. So, in the election of 1800, Jefferson beat out Adams in the presidential election. Imagine that happening today. Imagine in 2024 the Vice President running for President against her own boss! It would never happen, but it did back then. Like It Or Lump It!

So Jefferson became President while John Adams went home to Massachusetts to stew, and it didn’t make him feel any better when Jefferson was reelected four years later. It was sad that the two allies from the old colonial days had become bitter rivals, but they just had very different ideas about how the new country should be run. Jefferson served two terms until James Madison was inaugurated in 1809. Then, a few years later in 1812, John Adams decided it was time to bury the hatchet with his old buddy and wrote him a nice letter wishing him well. Jefferson responded likewise, and they were able to resume their friendship throughout the rest of their days. Like It Or Lump It!

Is there anyone out there who’s lumped any of this yet? Because this is all pretty believable stuff so far, right? Nothing too crazy about two old men communicating about the state of the world and reminiscing about the good old days, is there?

So, the correspondence between the two former presidents continued for about 14 more years. As the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence was drawing near, Jefferson was 83 years old and Adams was 90. They were the last two of the founding fathers still alive. This was at a time when the average life expectancy was about 12, but both of these old guys were still alive and kicking in 1826. Then, when the big day came, Adams finally gave up the ghost. But not before uttering his famous last words: “Thomas Jefferson still survives”. Well, as anyone who knew John Adams would tell you, he was a big fat liar, and he continued lying right to the end. In fact, Jefferson was NOT still alive. He had died in Virginia a few hours earlier that same day. They both died on the 50th 4th of July! Like It Or… Wait. That’s not right. It wasn’t the 50th 4th of July. There had been thousands of 4th of Julys. But it was the 50th since 1776. OK, now you can Like It Or Lump It!

What’s that you say? Still liking everything? No lumping going on yet? You remember all this from 5th grade Social Studies? Fine. Let’s change gears a little bit.

While we’re on the subject, I have other, even more enthralling, facts having to do with people dying on the same day. I’m kind of cheating on this one because it has nothing to do with Independence Day, but your picnic guests will be enthralled just the same. Like It Or Lump It!

Listen to this: I can tell you that It is a fact that possibly the two greatest writers to ever live died on the same day. Like It Or Lump It! It’s true. Everyone knows that Shakespeare, the author of lots of plays and sonnets and stuff, died on April 23, 1616. But did you know that Miguel de Cervantes also died on April 23, 1616? Like It Or Lump It! Now, maybe some of you aren’t as familiar with Cervantes, but he wrote Don Quixote, probably my favorite book of all time, and I don’t know anything about Spain or the Spanish language, but people who do claim that he had as big an impact on Spanish as Shakespeare had on English. If you haven’t read Don Quixote yet then you likely never will, so I won’t waste my time trying to encourage you. It’s fat and even the language in the English translation is a tough slog. But it’s like a 17th century version of Dumb and Dumber. Except that Don’s buddy Sancho isn’t quite so stupid, so it could have just been called Dumb, but that title probably wouldn’t have sold many books. And if learning that I think Dumb and Dumber is a classic lowers your opinion of me and my taste in movies, well, Like It Or Lump It!

So, these two giants of the written word both died on the same day. It’s true. But I hope your mind isn’t completely blown yet because I have something else to tell you: These two men DIDN’T die on the same day! Like It Or Lump It! That’s right! Any lumpers out there now? I thought maybe so. Let me explain. Both Cervantes and Shakespeare did die on April 23, 1616 but, since the English were still using the old Julian calendar and the Spanish were using the new Gregorian calendar, Cervantes had actually been dead for ten days when Shakespeare bought the farm. Like It Or Lump It! I know! Enthralling, right?

Just in case there are still a few minds out there that have not splattered all over the ceiling by this point, let’s take a short look at one more crazy fact related to the two guys we started with. You’ve already either liked or lumped the fact that Jefferson and Adams both died on July 4th 1826. But what if I told you that the guy who took over from Jefferson as president, James Madison, also died on the 4th of July! Like It Or Lump It! It’s true. He didn’t die on that same day as Jefferson and Adams, but five years later, on July 4th 1831, he cashed in his chips. That’s three consecutive presidents who died on the same day! Like It Or Lump It! Do you know the odds of all three of those guys dying on the same day? Me either. But I bet it was pretty unlikely.

I’m not done yet, though. Forty-one years later, on July 4th 1872, Calvin Coolidge was born. Our future 30th president, born on the 4th of July! Like It Or Lump It! He wasn’t a good president, and his lack of personality caused writer Dorothy Parker to ask, when she heard about his death, “How can they tell?”. But still, he was President for a while, born on Independence day. Like It Or Lump It!

Maybe all the people at your 4th of July picnic will be getting a little tired of all this talk of death by now, so here’s something non-death-related but equally enthralling. Two of those three presidents who died on the 4th of July (Oops. I guess this is still a little death-related) Jefferson and Madison, along with the following president, James Monroe, all served two complete four-year terms. Jefferson served his two, then Madison served his two, then Monroe served his two. How many times do you think that has happened in the 245 years of our country? Well, it took almost 200 years for even two consecutive presidents to serve two entire consecutive terms. That didn’t happen again until Clinton and George W did it. And when Obama served his two terms it was the first time since those three guys back in the early 1800s. True story. Like It Or Lump It! Are you not enthralled?

Well, I guess that’s about it for this edition of Like It Or Lump It! I hope you will all feel just a little more confident now walking into that 4th of July get-together armed with all of these enthralling facts to share with family and friends. But it’s not just for trivia about dead people. If anyone starts complaining that their hamburger isn’t cooked quite the way they like it, just tell them to Like It Or Lump It! If they seem to have a problem with you being knee-crawling drunk at 2:00 in the afternoon, just tell them to Like It Or Lump It! If they aren’t amused by the firecracker you just lit and stuffed down their pants, just tell them to Like It Or Lump It! And if they tell you that your erratic aim with the lawn darts is endangering the children… You got It! Like It Or Lump It! I think you’ll find it a most useful phrase this holiday weekend. Happy Birthday, America!

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