There have been Black Hills vacationers so moved by their experience that they've decided to make an instant life change. They've called or texted their employer back home to say, as Johnny Paycheck did, "Take this job and shove it, I ain't workin' here no more!" Or words to that effect. That's what a well-known East Coast man did in 1927 after coming to the Black Hills in search of relaxation and less summer heat and humidity. He extended his stay to three months and, it should be stressed, didn't actually say "take this job and shove it." He said "I do not choose to run for President in 1928." The man was President Calvin Coolidge. Calvin and Grace Coolidge and their dogs arrived early in the summer of 1927, lived in Custer State Park, fished for trout, and toured Black Hills towns to take in rodeos and other special events. Of course Mr. Coolidge also performed his Presidential duties, being chauffeured regularly to an office at Rapid City High School -- the epicenter of national government and politics that summer. That's where reporters were summoned August 2 to learn Coolidge wouldn't be a candidate for re-election the next year. Americans were stunned, including Mrs. Coolidge. The President hadn't thought to tell her during their walks and drives through the Hills. You can stay or dine in the State Game Lodge in the park, where the Coolidges lived. Whether Grace Coolidge upbraided her husband at the State Game Lodge for keeping her in the dark is unrecorded by history.
Paul writes about the Black Hills for in-flight airline publications, academic magazines, South Dakota Magazine, public TV, newspapers and websites. He is the author of five books, all Black Hills themed. He lives in the Black Hills. He's obviously no Renaissance Man with varied interests, but if the Black Hills are your thing, he's your guy.