The Yankee From Tennessee (Noel B. Gerson)

A shooting star, brilliant and white, soared high in the sky, hung in space for an instant, and then vanished in the night.

This is a 1960 novelization of the life of Andrew Johnson, one of three Tennessee presidents. Fun fact: Not one of them was actually born in Tennessee. Andrew Johnson might be the only one of the three not mentioned in a song. Can you identify songs for the other two?

I picked this up in a used book store/bar in West Virginia while waiting to celebrate my father's birthday at the Charles Town racetrack. Yes, it really was a combined bar and used book store, and I wish we had one of those here. Of course, I also wish the North Ridge served real alcohol. But if wishes were ponies, I'd have to live somewhere else because the herd would not be able to graze in my little backyard.

It was too early in the day and I was not walking distance from the hotel, so I did not get a drink, but I enjoyed looking around at the books and chatting with the woman running the shop. I don't generally talk to strangers, but I go through seasons where people start talking to me. The other day, a clerk at Safeway asked me if I knew why chicken coops have two doors. When I told her I did not know, she responded, "Because if they had four doors, they'd be called chicken sedans!"

I think I go through phases where I clean up well or something and I look like someone everybody thinks they know. I walked into a couple of restaurants in Oklahoma last month where the hostesses said, "Welcome back!" I thought maybe this was a regional assumptional greeting or something, but the second one asked if I wanted my usual. It helps that my accent, I think, isn't terribly easy to place. I picked up the book, after all, because I thought its title could describe me.

My sister got in on the recognition act while I was at the birthday gathering. She said her family didn't really need to see me all that often because they can just watch Chuck Todd on television. She's living in the past. I haven't looked like Chris Todd for many years, though I definitely agree that he used to look like me. I've been gray for a while now, the goatee is gone and so is a lot of the hair. Lately, if I'm told I look like anyone, it's Donald Sutherland. But when I look at his pictures on the internet, I see a lot more hair there, too. People think they are being nice, I suspect.

When I started writing this, I didn't expect to get all the way out to Donald Sutherland, but Andrew Johnson didn't really expect to be President, either, I guess.

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