Can You Imagine This On Your Thanksgiving Table?
It's even worse than cold green beans.
Hi! I’m Joey, founder of Fun Fact Friyay, the newsletter for curious people. Pull out your stretchy pants and let’s jump in!
Today’s fact: President Calvin Coolidge was once gifted a raccoon to eat instead of a turkey — and he adopted it as a pet.
The presidential pardon of a turkey officially began in 1987 with Ronald Reagan, though John F. Kennedy turned away a bird in 1963 — he simply didn’t use the word “pardon.”
But more than 60 years earlier, Calvin Coolidge was doing a little pardoning of his own. Specifically, he was probably saying, “Pardon me, what the *&!^@ is this?!”
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In November 1926, Coolidge received a live raccoon from Vinnie Joyce of Nitta Yuma, Mississippi. The intention was for the president to eat the animal with his family for Thanksgiving dinner.
But Coolidge and his wife, Grace, were both such animal lovers that they instead adopted the raccoon. Rebecca, as she later came to be known, was one of many animals in the White House during Coolidge’s term, though she was “the most obstreperous,” per the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
If you’re like me and just learned what “obstreperous” means right now, it’s implying Rebecca was “noisy and difficult to control.”
She tore up clothing. She gnawed on upholstery. She regularly wriggled her way out of cages. She sounds a lot like my hamster from third grade.
But Rebecca loved her owners, going on walks with President Coolidge and curling up on his lap by the fireplace.
The Coolidges even welcomed a second raccoon into the foray in early 1928. Alas, Rebecca was not particularly fond of Reuben. She continued escaping from the White House grounds, and eventually, the president donated her to the National Zoo.
It’s now illegal to have a raccoon as a pet in the White House, but apparently not so in Texas — I housed a raccoon for about a week and a half earlier this year as it terrorized my attic before animal control was able to lure it out with some good smells on the outside of the home.
If only we could all be swayed so easily.