By HOWARD COFFIN
Special To The Standard
Four score and seven years ago, the father of Calvin Coolidge brought forth at Plymouth Notch one of American History’s most intriguing happenings when he saw his way clear to administer the Presidential Oath of Office to his son, and did so.
Calvin Coolidge becoming President at 2:47 a.m. on the third day of August in 1923 resulted in the complete discovery of one of the world’s most beautiful places. This summer those from all over the planet who seek it out will be better served than ever before by the opening of the Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center. The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, in league with its long-time cohorts the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and the Coolidge Family, has made this possible.
When Plymouth suddenly became a presidential hometown, no one more creatively, or gracefully, capitalized on the Notch’s fame as a lady neighbor of the Coolidge’s. Ruth Aldrich, about four feet six inches tall, and thus known as “Midge,” was the Plymouth cheese maker’s daughter. In the family home opposite the store, Midge opened a tearoom. She built a roadside stand on the front lawn, and three tourist cabins out back.
Thanks to Midge’s cousin Marjorie Pierce (whose cousin Aurora Pierce was the Coolidge’s housekeeper), I met Miss Aldrich at Plymouth Notch late her life. Midge lived past 90 and in her last years she only summered at the Notch. But reliably as the robins that graced her lawns, she arrived from Springfield in spring and departed with autumn. Marjorie drove me over from North Shrewsbury one July day for a visit. I knew Midge the rest of her life and we sometimes chatted as she tended her roses.
Thanks to my long-time association with Plymouth and friendship with Coolidge Site Supervisor Bill Jenney, I have spent many nights in one of Midge’s cabins. Amid the twitter and peep of the day’s birth I have many times seen the first light touch the village’s clapboards as the sun surmounts East Mountain. And by the cabin door in the soft silence of nightfall I have oft watched stars emerge above Saltash Mountain’s dark mass.