Work has begun in a group we have named The Salient Cal Project to bring together a collection of excellent essays by an exceptional cast of contributors. More than three dozen authors from across the United States and around the world will share a piece of the Coolidge Era’s enduring significance in various ways. They are scholars, family members of Coolidge Era personalities, and professionals in a wide range of fields. They are writing not only for those already well-acquainted with Coolidge but those eager to know more. Be sure to stay tuned for more details.
“Salient,” meaning prominent, outstanding, conspicuous, notable and significant is, of course, a play on the oft-repeated moniker worn by our thirtieth President (“Silent Cal”). Coolidge certainly capitalized on the label when it suited but he also lived in steady contradiction to it when the time called for it as well. He could be downright verbose, as would most of us, in the presence of our friends and favorite topics.
He was a walking enigma to the conventional playbook of politics. This often meant he would be underestimated by the self-appointed smartest of the smart. Those who made the mistake of marginalizing him, quickly found out how far of the mark they were. He possessed a shrewd grasp of human nature. Just when his political adversaries thought him cornered, they would often find Cal had out-thought them, delivering about that time his unexpected checkmate. He could detect fakes and con-artists usually before they knew he was onto them. Nevertheless, he remained free of guile or artifice and while his homely wit could be biting, it was never attended by malice.
Genuinely indifferent to what “experts” thought of him, he never lost a firm sense of who he was and what he set out to do and he did a great deal, much more than is widely realized today. He had his quirks but these only endeared him further in the eyes of ‘regular’ folks, confirming that while many claim to be “one of the people,” he truly fit right in with ’em. A shy man, he could be boyishly stubborn too but, through it all, he retained a heart for people and a special tenderness for all God’s creatures, great and small. The daily struggles and joys of life (births, marriages, families, work) constantly fascinated him and he kept a sincere appreciation for them all. It is in recognition of his very human makeup and Cal’s subtle talent for accomplishing big tasks with what seemed little effort that earns him the defining quality of salience not silence.
The essays being researched and written cover a broad range of topics: from the light-hearted and humorous to heavier issues and points still largely unexplored where the Coolidges are concerned. It brings together the many points of cultural connection we share with Cal and his contemporaries.
Our project, heading toward publication as a book in 2021, is designed to delight and enlighten, to encourage and entertain. It comes just as we stand on the cusp of numerous centennial anniversaries marking the many valuable achievements of that decade. In a real way, the world we call modern is the world they built.
Prepare to begin a journey then not merely to a century ago but to a place we will discover is closer to us than we may realize. We expect you will have trouble tearing away from our book, finding in it timeless human stories and personal experiences, history forgotten and unforgettable, relatable antics and beautiful insights, courage and kindness, joy and light. We expect that you will find there are a surprising number of friends you never knew before to be introduced in its pages, and that you will see in our collection a place to return again and again.
In Salient Cal: How the Coolidge Era Still Speaks Today, we will meet lives that overcame great difficulties with persistence and pluck, thinkers and doers of indestructible spirit who rose to great responsibilities and charged forward without sacrificing humility or the invaluable habit of retaining a sense of humor through it all. Together they not only challenge our preconceptions and defy the conventional interpretations surrounding them, they freely offer us a bit of what they learned about life in the process.
It is our goal that the people you will come to know in this book will not only rise in your estimation but that respect, not total agreement, is the basis for our own growth and progress.