PRESIDENT #27 – WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT

A previous post copied …

Dscn0525Sue and I were coming home from an Awana Ministry Conference in Chattanooga when we decided to visit Taft’s house.

We would be coming back north through Cincinnati on a Sunday morning. I knew the home was in the city itself – and sometimes Sunday mornings are a good time to go into cities. (Here’s a traveler’s tip. Do not and I repeat, DO NOT try to drive through downtown Boston anytime BUT Sunday morning, but that’s a whole other story.) Sounded like the perfect plan.  Stop. Tour. Take a few pictures. Check it off my list. Continue on our way north.

Everything went well until we missed a not-very-well-marked fork on the expressway. No problem. We’ll just go up to the next exit and get off.

Wrong. The next exit did not have a get-on-again ramp. Still we had about three different maps. We should be able to find it.

Wrong.

We soon found ourselves in a rather non-picturesque part of the city. Let’s just say there were a lot of boarded-up buildings and people “lounging” on the sidewalks. A lot of bars, too.

Hmmm …

We found one street that Sue actually located on a map. We went one way and then the other. Time passed. We needed one of about five different other streets to pinpoint our position. Even though every one of those five streets should’ve been in the area we found none of them.  We saw a lot of the same boarded-up buildings. We saw the same people “lounging” in the streets. We saw the same bars.

Then we saw a couple walking down the sidewalk. They were at least walking upright. We stopped.

“Can you tell me where the Taft House is?” Sue called out.

Dscn0520 They came over to the car. The man stood there looking like he didn’t know how he was supposed to look. The girl looked perplexed.

“Tafts? I don’t know them.”

“He was a president.” I explained. “His house his here somewhere. It’s a national park.”  Still no recollection of anything. She looked at our map.

“Could you at least tell us where we are?”  Sue said, showing her the atlas.

I don’t know exactly how to explain this, but she looked as if she really, truly wanted to help us, but had no idea what to do to give that help. She stared down the street.  Unfortunately, she was leaning on the car, so I kind of had to wait until she admitted she didn’t know anything about where we were or where we were going.

We continued going around a multitude of blocks. The empty-gas tank thing beeped on the car. Now, I know I had quite a few miles left before I ran out of gas, but didn’t want to chance it – who knows how long we would be doing circles.

I saw a gas station that looked rather run down, but a normal-looking couple were getting gas, so I pulled in next to them. I figured if anything happened, they could help. Stuck my card in the pump. Started pumping the gas. I was cleaning off the front windshield when suddenly I had a volcano of gas exploding out of my tank. I quickly pulled out the pump, the gas continued to pour out. Finally, I hit it right and it stopped. The  man (part of the normal-looking couple) came to my rescue. (See, I’m a good judge of character – I knew they would help us!)

“Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I think ..”  I looked for some paper towels, but of course, they didn’t have any.  The nice man brought me some napkins he had from some fast food place and helped me wipe off the side of my car.

Did I complain? Did I go in to ask directions?

Nah. Seemed safest to get out of there.

Well, while the girl had been leaning on the car earlier telling us she didn’t know where we were or where we were going – she had said something about calling someone.

Wait a minute! I had printed out the info about the house!  Maybe there was a phone number on it.

I saw a McDonald’s (not one you’d really want to eat at – but we could use their parking lot) and pulled in. I dialed the number.

“Hello, Tafts’ House. This is Doug.”

“Doug,” I said. “WHERE are you?”

“Where are YOU?” he asked.

I told him I was at the McDonald’s on Mahlin.

Doug had never heard of that street and didn’t know of any McDonalds.

“By the MLK,” I told him. (We had been driving around long enough for me to be on an “abbreviated name” basis with the streets.)

“Oh,” he said and gave directions. However, not knowing where the side street or the McDonalds was located, we had no idea if we should go right or left to get to the START of his directions.  But did eventually figure it out.

And sure enough, Doug’s directions got us to Taft’s house.

When we showed up, there were two other ladies there – twenty-somethings from, interestingly enough, Chicago, who, interestingly enough, also got lost finding the place.

“You need signs,” we told Doug.

“Oh, we’ve got signs,” he insisted. “Just had new ones made. They’re in the basement.”

Duh Doug! Signs in the basement don’t cut it.

Anyhow, the outside of the house is nicely restored, but the rooms don’t have too many Taft treasures. At first I thought that seemed odd since there are still a lot of Tafts around – and a lot of Tafts who visit the house (so Doug told us). In fact, until a few years ago, a Taft was governor of the state.

But then I figured that’s probably WHY there aren’t too many Taft originals – so many Tafts are still living (unlike the Lincolns who have no descendants) that the “real” stuff is probably still in the family.

There was no cost for this adventure. Just donations. And I did get it crossed off my list.

Should-you-visit-it-if-you’re-in-the-area-factor?

Hmmm … I’ll leave that up to you.

September 12, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

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