What happens when Sesame Street meets Betty White? You get, Grover Cleveland. One tough cookie.
Stephen Grover Cleveland, mentioned twice on this esteemed blog, here and here, a native son of New York. He served as Governor of New York, Mayor of Buffalo, and while serving as assistant district attorney and again while serving as sheriff of Erie County he earned the nickname “Ugly Honest.” That’s kind of eerie if you ask me.
His vice president, Adlai Stevenson I, a great name worth repeating with his son, Adlai Stevenson II, congressman.
Cleveland was considered one of the hardest working presidents, completing his own paperwork, regularly working past midnight—often later, and battling the Senate as he worked to clean house in Washington. And he succeeded with the support of the people.
He asserted the earliest form of what we now call “executive privilege.”
Like the twice baked potato—resting in the middle, he is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. First elected in 1885—22nd president, then again in 1893—24th president. Of his five children only his daughter, Ruth, was born in the White House. Since I couldn’t find reference of any other children being born there, I suspect she was the only baby Ruth swimming in a bath tub in the White House.
Two months after his second inauguration, the stock market crashed sending the country into the worse depression up to that time. While in the midst of the crash, Cleveland was diagnosed with a malignant carcinoma in his mouth.
His advisors, concerned news of his health might cause deeper financial panic, announced he set off on his summer vacation in New York.
Under the veil of extreme secrecy he was whisked away on a friend’s yacht on the East River where a team of five physicians and a dentist tied him to the mast of the yacht, sedated him with ether and nitrous oxide, removed his upper jaw and part of his upper palate, then successfully removed the carcinoma—in a forty-one minute operation. In a subsequent surgery he was fitted with a rubber jaw and plate. He spent the summer learning how to talk again. That’s one tough cookie.
Cleveland died in 1908. The extreme secrecy of the operation prevented the incident becoming public knowledge until 1917.
Cleveland’s wife, Francis “Frank” Folsom Cleveland, started out as his ward after her father died. He watched her grow up, then proposed to her in a letter when she was away at college. She was 21, he was 49 and a sitting President. Did I mention they had five kids?
What happened to Frank Cleveland after Grover died? She married a Princeton professor five years after Grover’s death and lived happily into her eighties.