Answers To Presidential Quiz

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Michele Norris talks to Rick Beyer, author of The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from History to Astonish, Bewilder and Stupefy, answer the trivia questions and tell little-known stories about some American presidents.


And before we leave you today, we have the answers to our Presidents Day trivia quiz. Earlier, we posed a few questions to you, and here to help us with the answers is Rick Beyer. He's the author of "The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from History to Astonish, Bewilder and Stupefy," and in this case, to inform as well. Mr. Beyer, welcome to the program.

Mr. RICK BEYER (Author, "The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from History to Astonish, Bewilder and Stupefy"): Great to be here, thanks.

NORRIS: Well, let's begin with our first question. Which president popularized the following phrases: Speak softly and carry a big stick, the bully pulpit, my hat's in the ring, and good to the last drop?

Mr. BEYER: Well, that would be Theodore Roosevelt. And, of course, good to the last drop was the Maxwell House coffee slogan. It's what he supposedly said at The Hermitage in 1907, Andrew Jackson's home. He was visiting, they served him some coffee, and he said, delighted, good to the last drop. And of course, that coffee was from the Maxwell Hotel in Nashville. And that's how Maxwell House coffee got that as a slogan.

NORRIS: They knew a good thing when they heard it.

Mr. BEYER: Absolutely.

NORRIS: Which president's life was saved by a song?

Mr. BEYER: That would be John Tyler. And he was on a warship called The Princeton, where they were introducing this brand new cannon - this huge cannon that they had devised called the Peacemaker. And they fired it off a couple of times. And then they were having a big banquet below decks, and people wanted to fire the huge cannon one more time. And so they were headed up on deck for the third firing, and John Tyler was at the bottom of the stairs getting ready to climb up to the deck for that when his son-in-law broke out into a song, because people were singing and celebrating.

And so he waited to hear the end of that song. Good thing for him, because the cannon exploded. It killed a couple of his Cabinet members, and it would have killed him except for that song.

NORRIS: He thought it was too rude to leave in the middle of a song?

Mr. BEYER: Yes, and so politeness there saved his life.

NORRIS: Okay. Which president's life was saved by a movie made 42 years earlier?

Mr. BEYER: Well, that would be Ronald Reagan, which probably people might have guessed, but they might not know the story. Reagan made a movie called "Code of the Secret Service." He said it was one of the worst movies he ever made, which is saying something.

But a 10-year-old boy in Florida named Jerry Parr loved that movie. He saw it time after time after time. He said when I grow up, I'm going to be a Secret Service man. He did just that. And in 1981, when Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, it was Jerry Parr who pushed him into the car, realized he'd been shot, redirected the car to the hospital and saved Ronald Reagan's life.

NORRIS: All right. Which president liked to go skinny-dipping in the Potomac every morning? And we should say the Potomac is a little distance away from the White House, so...

Mr. BEYER: That was John Quincy Adams. And he would get up very early every morning, trot down to the Potomac River, shed his clothes, jump in and go for a swim. And official Washington unofficially was quite aware that he would do this, and there actually are stories of people who snuck down there in the morning to see the naked president swimming in action.

NORRIS: Did John Quincy Adams do this year-round?

Mr. BEYER: He did it whenever the weather permitted. And he actually almost drowned one time when a storm blew up, and his wife was quite upset at him. And he tried to limit his swimming thereafter. But he still continued to do it. He just didn't try to swim all the way across the river.

NORRIS: And our bonus question: Which president is featured on the $100,000 bill? And for extra credit, we asked listeners: What years were those bills printed?

Mr. BEYER: That would have been Woodrow Wilson on the $100,000 bill, which, by the way, was orange. And the bills were printed in 1934, in 1935, and enough of them were printed that they would've added up to $4.2 billion.

NORRIS: Now these were notes that were used in gold transactions. Were they ever in circulation?

Mr. BEYER: No, they were actually illegal for individual people to own. They were only used internally by Federal Reserve banks to send to each other.

NORRIS: Rick Beyer is the author of "The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from History to Astonish, Bewilder and Stupefy." Thank you very much, Mr. Beyer.

Mr. BEYER: Thank you.

(Soundbite of song, "Hail to the Chief")

NORRIS: And thanks also to our resident presidential historian, Neal Carruth.

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