The Best of Andy Rooney

(This classic Andy Rooney column was originally published Jan. 5, 2009.)

It's that time again, so I've collected a few facts about presidential inaugurations. Maybe you can surprise your friends with them.

George Washington was the first President to take the oath of office and then say, "So help me God." There is some difference of opinion about whether or not God acted on the request.

The first President to ride in a car at his inauguration was Warren Harding in 1921. The thing I read didn't mention what model of car was used. It may have been a Packard, although it may have been a Hupmobile or a REO, too. They were both good cars. My father bought a Hupmobile when I was little. Uncle Bill had a REO in Ballston Spa, N.Y. He used to take me to Saratoga in it. I don't remember much about it except it had white spokes on the wheels. When I was in high school, my parents had a Packard. We weren't rich, but we weren't poor, either.

The first inauguration broadcast on radio was Calvin Coolidge's in 1925. That may have been the most interesting thing Coolidge ever did. He was our dullest President. I was so young I didn't know anything about him, but a lot of adults didn't, either.

Harry Truman's was the first televised inauguration in 1949 and a lot of people watched it. We didn't get a television until 1951. My father used to sit in front of it and watch anything they put on. Some people still do, of course.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower's' first inaugural in 1953 was the longest ever. The parade lasted more than four hours. There were 73 bands, floats, horses and what they called "pachyderms" -- elephants. It wasn't my favorite inauguration, but Ike was my favorite President.

After he won a second term, Eisenhower's inauguration in 1957 fell on a Sunday, so he took the oath of office at the White House on that day. The next day, he took the oath a second time at the Capitol. Marian Anderson sang at the ceremony.

Of course, some presidents get to stand up and be sworn in twice. Fifteen have been elected to a second term, and in Franklin Roosevelt's case, to a third and fourth term.

I went to Jimmy Carter's inauguration in 1977. What I remember most was not the inauguration itself but how cold it was ... one of the coldest days Washington ever had. Even though it was only 7 degrees on Pennsylvania Avenue, Carter and his family walked all the way from the Capitol to the White House. I remember that day well. I had to buy a down coat and I think CBS paid for the coat. I still wear it. I'm still deciding whether I should have given the coat back to CBS.

I don't remember if I actually attended Richard Nixon's first inaugural or not, but I have a 1969 Presidential inauguration license plate in my desk drawer so I must have been there. Some things you'd rather forget.

I know there are a limited number of inaugural tickets this year, but I'm hoping mine is in the mail.

I like Barack Obama, although I don't like inaugurations. If my ticket comes, I'll give it to someone who wants to go. They can tell me about it.

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