Wednesday, December 29, 2010


'I wouldn't go across the street to shake hands with the President of the United States,' my dad would state on a regular basis as he looked out the bay window in our living room at (what is now) Claflin Park, to which my mother would always retort, looking out that same window, 'I would!'

As it happened, my dad didn't have to go across the street to shake hands with the President of the United States; the President of the United States had to cross the stage to shake hands with my dad! It was 1931, and Peter Bilezikian was attending Watertown High School where the former President Calvin Coolidge (whose ancestors were originally from Watertown, Massachusetts) was to speak. Everyone wanted to meet the President, of course, but my dad had connections! Having worshiped at the Brighton Congregational Church upon first arriving in this country, Dad had become a favorite of the minister of that church. In fact, it was Peter's minister who introduced President Calvin Coolidge that day to Watertown High School and to Peter Bilezikian. Singled out as the only one in Watertown High School's Class of 1932 to shake hands with the President of the United States, Peter never had to shake a President's hand again! As folks today would say, he had already 'been there, done that!'

1 comment:

  1. When I questioned daddy about the comment he used to make about not walking across the street to shake the hand of the president, he recalled that the remark was in the context that if work had to be interrupted to take that walk, he would not do that. It seems to me, it places daddy in a far better light seeing the story in that way, otherwise, daddy comes off as churlish and self centered. He was work centered, to the extreme, for various reasons. Understanding that vital quality about him makes the story compelling rather than an idiosyncratic rant.