When the presidential election was all the news in the summer of 1968, with Richard Nixon the front runner, I thought what a coup if I could publish a presidential calendar and have it completed, ready to ship within 24 hours after the final votes were in. At that time, I had a close association with one of Denver’s largest printers, A. B. Hirschfeld, and I put my proposal before them. After a lot of head-scratching and ideas back and forth on how to accomplish this, a plan was worked out.
To accomplish this, I literally had to prepare two editions of the wall calendar I envisioned: one with Nixon as the president; the other with Hubert Humphrey. In addition to the cover, I had to prepare two sets of seven full pages in addition to the pages of the 12 months that featured photos in color of the would-be president and vice president. The printer would have the complete negatives for the two editions ready with pressmen and workers standing by waiting for the signal. How exciting that was for me and everyone involved to see those press sheets rolling out only minutes after Richard Nixon was declared president!
The 1969 Presidential Calendar Book was a very impressive historical accomplishment, thanks to the assistance of my devoted artist, Kit Kelly, for her professional art and layout. The Calendar Book featured historical events in each block of the 365 days – more than 1,000 in all – and my editorial assistant was Marion Carrison, who worked with me at the Trinity Methodist Church in Denver a few years before.
The page size of the calendar was 9 inches by 12 inches, and 9 inches by 18 inches opened up on the wall. On each of the top pages for the 12 months were reproductions of engravings of the 36 presidents, supplied by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. There was an approximate 150-word biography of each of the presidents, and underneath each of these were vital statistics.
Ancestry – Welsh
Religion – No Affiliation
Political Party – Democrat-Republican
State Represented – Virginia
Term Served – 8 years
Inauguration –March 4, 1801
Date of Death – July 4, 1828
Burial Monticello – Charlottesville, Virginia
One page featured family photos of the president and vice president, and on the inside back cover were photos and a brief biography of Hubert H. Humphrey and Edmund S. Muskie. On the cover was our logo: a small oval with a photo of Heather: A HEATHER PUBLICATION. To this day, I don’t believe Heather ever knew her prominence as a “Living Trademark” around the world, with her photo on more than half a million publications and countless pieces of promotional material.
Featured in the Calendar Book were the controversial coincidences between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. This has become a piece of American folklore of unknown origin, and there are several versions that have been circulated. It first appeared in the mainstream American press in 1964, in the wake of the 1963 Kennedy assassination.
Regardless of what is true and what is not true, this is fascinating reading and is what I printed in the Calendar Book:
The LINCOLN-KENNEDY Analogy
There were seven letters in each name and both Presidents had the legality of their election contested. Both were concerned with the issues of Civil Rights. Both were slain on a Friday and in the presence of their wives. Lincoln was elected in 1860 and Kennedy was elected in 1960. Their successors were named Johnson, and were Southern Democrats who had previously served in the U.S. Senate: Andrew Johnson, who was born in 1808, and Lyndon Johnson, who was born in 1908.
Booth and Oswald were murdered before a trial could be arranged. Lincoln’s secretary, named Kennedy, advised him not to go to the theater. Kennedy’s secretary, named Lincoln, advised him not to go to Dallas.
Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and hid in a warehouse. Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and hid in a theater. Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Johnson each contain 13 letters. John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald each contain 15 letters.
Lincoln and Kennedy’s bodies were carried on the same caisson in their funeral procession.
After publication, I soon realized what an important work I had produced, and I had one edition bound in leather. Then I wondered if I could get the living presidents to sign the book. The only way to accomplish this was to take the chance that the calendar would be returned. The venture was successful, and the autographs in the Calendar Book are: Richard Nixon, Spiro T. Agnew, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Dwight David Eisenhower, Hubert H. Humphrey and Edmund S. Muskie.
A letter dated June 3, 1969, from Mrs. Willie Day Taylor, assistant to Lyndon B. Johnson: “President Johnson asked me to thank you for your 1969 Presidential Calendar.” She wrote again June 17: “I am returning your Presidential Calendar Book today. President Johnson was happy to autograph it for you.”
A letter dated December 18, 1968, from Robert L. Schulz, Brig. Gen., USA (Ret), Executive Assistant, Dwight D. Eisenhower: ”Because the General’s doctors continue to rigidly restrict his dictation and other activities at this time, he has asked me to convey his appreciation for your thoughtfulness in remembering him in this way. The General commented that yours was truly a useful gift. General Eisenhower was happy to autograph your copy of the Presidential Calendar Book…with renewed thanks and best wishes to you and yours for a joyous holiday season.”
The germ of an idea for another book I wrote happened one evening in Hebron, Kentucky, at Earl and Sue’s house. We were playing the word game, Boggle, and I don’t remember exactly what Sue said, but it was something like, “We should have our own dictionary for this game.”
Imagine! Thinking you could write a dictionary! Well, with Georgianna’s help, that is exactly what I did. I knew there was a Scrabble dictionary, but what I produced was more than a dictionary. There is a comprehensive introduction and chapters on “Increase Your Vocabulary and Word Game Skills” and “More Than 40 Fascinating Word Games to Play.” The word game companies were happy to send us free games! Appendix 1 was titled “Have a Word Game Party” and Appendix 2 is “Popular Parlor Games.”
There are more than 27,000 entries of two to nine letters (the size of words that most word games employ) in my Original Word Game Dictionary. The blockbuster was the inclusion of 22 “Q” words that don’t need a “U” following the “Q.” The dictionary was published by Stein and Day in 1984. It is out of print now, but I occasionally see it on Amazon.com for as little as a penny.
Georgianna and I wrote the dictionary while living in Waterbury, Connecticut. We spent the winter of 1982-1983 going through several major dictionaries, from A to Z, for words we had never heard of! While a dictionary of the English language frequently contains as many as 100,000 entries, and some more than 500,000, there are not more than 60,000 words with which anyone but a specialist is likely to ever be concerned. But of these 60,000 words only about 20,000 occur frequently in general reading materials.
That winter, writing the dictionary was unforgettable. We enjoyed Waterbury and found time each evening to walk around the area; we had a very nice apartment. One of our favorite Broadway Musicals from 1959 was Take Me Along, starring Jackie Gleason. We never saw it, but I do have the Original Cast Album. One of the songs Gleason sings is about the town of Waterbury, so we felt a closeness to the town and to the show.
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