Bill Kirby: So what is a president supposed to sound like?

·3 min read
Bill Kirby, Augusta Chronicle
Bill Kirby, Augusta Chronicle

“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.”

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

I wrote last week about President William Howard Taft's remarkable weight-loss diet, and while looking through the photos of this large human, I began to wonder what he sounded like.

A big man with big lungs, did he sound like an oversized opera singer? A White House Pavarotti?

Did he have a low voice, a high voice? Did he have the successful politician's verbal talent in cadence and timbre?

Well, I asked the internet and the internet answered. We actually have the recorded voices of presidents back to Benjamin Harrison. You can hear them online courtesy of the Michigan State University G. Robert Vincent Voice Library.

Most are from political speeches, so most of them are pretty stuffy, but it's still interesting to hear them speak.

Now, we do not know what George Washington sounded like, although I have seen it written in the newspaper that the first president did not have a first quality speaking voice.

I have heard the same said of Abraham Lincoln, who could never quite get rid of the backwoods Kentucky "twang" – his voice was a bit squeaky with a tendency, for example, to call Tuesday … "TOOS-Dee.

Back to Taft … when he spoke, he wasn't bad. A Cincinnati lawyer, he sounds a little bit in recordings like Augusta favorite Dwight Eisenhower, who grew up in Texas and Kansas.

SPEAKING OF OLD TIMES: A collector who specializes in Augusta-area milk bottles of yesteryear is trying to find a bottle from the Highland Heights Dairy that formerly occupied both sides of Berckmans Road (its pastures extended down the hills to Rae’s Creek). Apartments occupy the land on the right going up Berckmans and private homes are on the former pastureland on the left. The dairy got started in the early 20th century and was owned by James L. Gilchrist Sr.

The gentleman hopes someone in that neighborhood has a quart or pint bottle embossed with Highland Heights Dairy / Augusta, Ga. The “middle man” contact is Bill Baab, Chronicle fishing editor and an author on the region's former dairies. He can be contacted at (706) 736-8097.

IS YOUR DOG A HERO? American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, has announced the official start of the 2022 American Humane Hero Dog Awards campaign. The annual effort hopes to identify and honor the best of our best friends and will culminate this fall with the star-studded “American Humane Hero Dog Awards” gala on Nov. 11 in Palm Beach.

Dog owners are invited to visit www.herodogawards.org and nominate their heroic hound in one of seven categories. This fall, the top dog in each category will appear at the star-studded, red-carpet awards gala and one of the seven will be named the American Hero Dog of the year – the most prestigious honor a canine can receive.

I have thinned out the competition by vowing not to enter my two dogs, who have shown little heroic activity in anything that does not involve their dog bowls.

TODAY'S DOG JOKE: In an upscale pet supply store, a customer wanted to buy a nice winter sweater for her dog. The clerk suggested she bring in the dog for a proper sizing and fit.

"Oh, I can't do that," the woman said.

"Why not?" the clerk asked.

""Well," she said. lowering her voice, "it's going to be a surprise."

Bill Kirby has reported, photographed and commented on life in Augusta and Georgia for 45 years.

This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Bill Kirby: Old presidents don't always sound like such a big deal

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