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Taft's Tub

October 8, 2014

Recently, while watching Ken Burns’ documentary on the Roosevelts, I saw pictures of the president following Teddy into the White House. I was reminded of this post, written in the early months of Chubby Chatterbox.




Some stories are stuck in the public’s consciousness and can’t be dislodged by logic or evidence to the contrary, such as the story of how Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, died. It has been rumored for centuries that she perished in an equestrian accident, a polite way of saying that this regal nymphomaniac died while trying to copulate with a stallion suspended above her bed from a crane. According to legend, the chain broke and crushed the Czarina to death. While this is fun to envision, it never happened. Catherine was an inveterate pleasure seeker when it came to sex, but she died in a much more boring manner, in her own bed after suffering a stroke—alone.


But this isn’t about Catherine the Great. As a fat man myself, I’m here to defend someone who isn’t able to defend himself, the twenty-seventh President of the United States—William Howard Taft. I’m sure you’ve heard stories of how fat he was, so fat that he broke the White House bathtub while struggling to get out of it.


Let’s set the record straight: William Howard Taft did not break a bathtub; he got stuck in one, and it took four men to get him out. They used a gallon of butter and the tub did not break. Unfortunately for Taft, reporters were present when the tub was dismantled and accidentally dropped while being taken out of the White House. They were responsible for creating the lie that Taft had broken it.


Now you know the truth. Taft may have been our most portly president, but he was considered a wonderful conversationalist, a great dancer, a good tennis player and an average golfer. He later went on to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. As such, he became the only President to serve as Chief Justice, and thus the only former President to swear in subsequent Presidents, giving the oath of office to Calvin Coolidge in 1925, and Herbert Hoover in 1929. (Thank you Wikipedia)


Way to go fellow chubby chatterbox!


Note: Sorry I couldn’t find a fanciful illustration of Catherine being crushed to death beneath a stallion. Photos of Taft’s tub will have to do.







Do you have a favorite urban legend?




Our relatives, distant or otherwise. :-)
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 8, 2014
Good grief- how much butter? Thanks for the fun fact finding! Another story to share around the dinner table!
By: Kathe W. on October 8, 2014
cool post
By: ifrah on October 8, 2014
so that's what a tub of butter really looks like. no country crock will do from now on...
By: TexWisGirl on October 8, 2014
Urban legends annoy me. They tend to get passed around by email upon email. I knew that Taft had gotten stuck in the tub. I never heard the story about it breaking. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on October 8, 2014
Did he have to take another bath to get all the butter off?
By: Linda on October 8, 2014
A most interesting post.
By: John on October 8, 2014
We both thought Burns' Roosevelts was awesome. I wish the documentary had of came out nine years ago to give Obama (and even the Republican obstructionists) a clue of what could have been accomplished in the wake of the sub-prime disaster.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on October 8, 2014
If you haven't got the photo, I suggest the Catherine/stallion image should be the subject of your next painting?
By: Bryan Jones on October 8, 2014
Wow these were all new to me. Really Catherine, a horse?? Glad that was false. Did not know that about Taft's tub but what I really found interesting was that he became Chief Justice. How did I miss that as a former Ohioan? .
By: Akansas Patti on October 8, 2014
Not only were successful men larger in those days, so were there mustaches! W H Taft had a big impact on history too.
By: Tom Cochrun on October 8, 2014
I agree with Bryan Jones!!
By: fishducky on October 8, 2014
would guess that many possible urban legends would never see the light of day. One former prime Minister of ours, Mackenzie King, conversed with spirits.
By: red on October 8, 2014
I had never heard the one about Catherine so I think that's now my favorite.
By: Catalyst on October 8, 2014
I had heard that about Catherine the Great. I also heard it was false. I also heard that Taft had to get a special bathtub put in the White House for him. But, it wasn't until now that I learned why. But, great googli moogli, stuck in a bathtub??? Wow. I think I'd rather be crushed by a horse. Okay. Not really. Still...
By: Al Penwasser on October 8, 2014
I was confused at first. I thought you were talking about MONTGOMERY Burns and a documentary and how HE got stuck in a bathtub, and I said to myself, "Mr. Burns is thin as a stick! And Smithers would NEVER allow a rumor like that to be spread." Then I went back and read it slowly. Never mind.
By: Val on October 8, 2014
It's quite a good story simply to have 4 men and a load of butter ... didn't really need the broken bathtub too! :)
By: jenny on October 9, 2014
I agree with fishducky!
By: Pixel Peeper on October 10, 2014
SO grateful there are no pictures of Catherine and the horse! Love the story about Taft. I have to admit, I didn't know the truth... which is even funnier.
By: Mitchell is Moving on October 13, 2014

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