This article from Friday, January 24th, recounts the beginnings of the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Calvin Coolidge’s visit there in January 1930 and its modern rediscovery. Time has seen rescue of the place where the former President spoke via radio hookup on the “Economics of Life Insurance,” before heading north, with Mrs. Coolidge, to stay in Mount Dora on their way to the west coast. Mr. Ponder’s recounting of Coolidge’s dislike for the fancier food may or may not be genuine. Apocryphal or not, it speaks to the truth that Coolidge was an unabashedly simple man with unpretentious tastes and humble manners. He never did care for “special treatment,” wishing to be just another American, free to come and go without fanfare or attention, as biographer Claude M. Fuess recounts in his book, Calvin Coolidge: The Man From Vermont,
“In harmony with the other phases of his character, Coolidge had simple tastes. The living conditions under which he had been brought up were good enough for him, and he was in no danger of being corrupted by self-indulgence…Coolidge had himself no affectations and despised people who, as he said, ‘put on airs’…He had been taught as a child the evil of waste, and the lesson persisted. In July 1925, he went to Camp Devens to review the 26th Division, and thorough preparations were made for his reception. In his washroom General Logan had placed two immaculate towels for the President’s personal use; but just before he arrived a hot and dusty aide dashed into headquarters, visited the lavatory, and naturally dried his hands with one of the special towels. When the President was escorted to the washroom, his companion noticed that one of the towels was streaked with dirt, and proffered him the remaining one, but Coolidge waved him aside, saying, ‘Why soil it? There’s one that’s been used. That’s clean enough’ ” (pp.485, 487).