item 1 >>> The only Governor of Massachusetts who went on to become POTUS was Calvin Coolidge. He’s probably the most famous next to John Hancock and Samuel Adams, both of whom served as Governor in the late 1700s. His 5th cousin, Arthur W. Coolidge, served as Lt. Governor under Robert F. Bradford in the late 1940s. Movie director Martha Coolidge is Arthur’s granddaughter, meaning she’s Silent Cal’s 5th cousin twice removed. Rita Coolidge isn’t.
item 2 >>> But I got to thinking about the birth-places of Massachusetts governors, and once a thing like that gets ahold of me, I drop everything till I get to the bottom of it. I think what got me going was accidentally noting that Volpe was born in Wakefield. But here’s a point of order: there have been 71 Bay State Governors, altho not that many individuals, as some served non-consecutive terms and are counted more than once. There have also been 9 Acting Governors, someone of whom went on to be elected in their own right. But in Massachusetts, when the Governor is out, the Lt. Governor does not become the Governor, only the Acting Governor. Unlike where I live now, New York…when Elliot Spitzer got bounced, David Paterson didn’t become the Acting anything…he’s the Governor, period. That having been said…
item 3 >>> I’m going to include all 80 Governors, regular and acting, which is to say, 80 administrations, which encompasses 70 different individuals. And “birth-place” means where they were physically born, not where their parents lived at the time…my own case has that discrepancy…born in Salem, parents lived in, and I grew up in, Danvers. As you might expect, Boston leads the list with 12. Next comes Cambridge with 4, Brookline and Easton have 2 each, and the remainder of Massachusetts towns are singletons, including 4 in Essex County: Marblehead, Lynn, Lawrence (Chub Peabody) and Hamilton (Frank Sargent.) The rest: Adams, Braintree, Charlestown, Chelsea, Dorchester, Freetown, Hingham, Hopedale, Hudson, Leicester, Leominster, Lexington, Medford, Milford, Newton, North Adams, Northborough, Northampton, Plymouth, Royalston, Roxbury, Wakefield, Waltham, Westfield, and Whichendon.
item 4 >>> Of special note is the birth-place of Governor #55, Leverett Saltonstall, who went on to be a US Senator for many years, and that’s Chestnut Hill. I had always vaguely thought of it as a neighborhood of Newton, but according to Uncle Wiki, it actually comprises parts of 3 municipalities…Newton, Boston, and Brookline…in 3 different counties…Middlesex, Norfolk, and Suffolk. Such are the vagaries of Bay State geography. James Curley said of Saltonstall: He has a Harvard accent with a South Boston face. And not for nothing, Chestnut Hill does have its own Zip Code.
item 5 >>> Meanwhile, 19 Massachusetts Governors were born “somewhere else”…3 each in Maine and New Hampshire…2 each in Vermont, Connecticut, and New York…one each in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Detroit, Chicago, England, Ireland, and France.
item 6 >>> Gubernatorial notes: Longest serving: Dukakis, 12 years…he was born where?, same city as JFK…answer tomorrow. Youngest: William E. Russell, 1891-1894, age 34. Most interesting name: Increase Sumner, successor of Samuel Adams. Runner-up: Eliphalet Trask, Lt. Gov. under Nathaniel Prentice Banks, at the outbreak of the Civil War. Eliphalet is a Biblical name, one of David’s sons. Special honors to Governor #11 John Brooks, said to be the last member of the Federalist Party to serve in any significant elected office in the country, 1816-1823.
item 7 >>> Some names from the past have a certain “resonance”…by this I mean, they were very common to you at one time, but you haven’t thought of them in years. Especially interesting to me are names I remember hearing before I was old enough to understand who they were, and by the time I was, they were no longer in the picture. The first Massachusetts Governor I remember clearly as being Governor, and understanding what that meant, was John Volpe in 1961…volpe is the Italian word for fox. But thus the 2 before him have a resonance to me: Foster Fercolo…which is probably pronounced elsewhere fer-CO-lo, but we always heard FER-ca-lo. And Governor before him, 1953-57, was Christian Herter, who went on to serve a couple years as Secretary of State under Ike. Not to be confused with radio commentator Gabriel Heatter.
item 8 >>> …and to close out this topic forever and ever, why is the adjective for Governor “Gubernatorial”? Like so many words in English, it goes back to the Latin. Gubernator meant the pilot or helmsman of a ship, and eventually, a political leader. Thus “Governor” is a corruption of the original, and I suppose since the adjective is less used, a similar corruption didn’t occur with it. Publilius Syrus said: In tranquillo esse quisque gubernator potest… Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.
item 9 >>> Many years ago, I went for a while with digital wrist-watches, but then went back to analog faces to stay. And I prefer the kind that have all 12 numbers, as opposed to every other number, or just dots, or nothing at the 12 positions at all. In fact, that used to be a pet peeve of mine, until it dawned on me that you can tell time merely by the position of the 2 hands, and the shape they make relative to each other…essentially, you really don’t need any numbers or even dots. And I suppose you can do that too with digital: you glance at the numbers, and instantly know where you are relative to your own personal schedule. But you may not actually know “what time it is”…if someone were to immediately ask you, you might have to look again.
item 10 >>> OK…I have been away a while. Guides to Bostonese on the web seem to agree that “chowderhead” was once an insult, but now has been “embraced by the residents,” along the lines of “cheesehead,” I guess. I have some catching up to do, cuz I just don’t hear it that way, you knuckleheads…
Re that “resonance” thing…sometimes the bell is ringing sooooooo far off in the distance, I wonder if I’m just imagining it. This is from the late 1940s, and the Swing Bar was one of the best-selling at the time.
Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi