The Coolidge Homestead as seen through the eyes of its housekeeper Aurora Pierce (1868 – 1956)
I grew up with my parents, Eli and Eldora Pierce, in Shrewsbury, Vermont, a small hill town just west of Plymouth Notch. I arrived at the Coolidge Homestead in 1908, where I was housekeeper for Col. John Coolidge and later helped the other Coolidges for nearly 50 years. Of course, Col. John was the famous one in the family in those early years; his son Calvin had a law practice down in Northampton, MA, where he was starting a rather promising career in politics. Well, Cal (we all called him that) did pretty good for himself and by 1923 he had become Vice President of the United States. I think he was as surprised as anybody that he ever ended up in Washington D.C.
Anyway, I was in the house at the time when word came that President Warren Harding died. How sad for the country! In the early morning, while I was asleep in the upstairs bedroom, the Colonel swore in Cal as President. Naturally, I didn’t think I had to be part of all that official business, but I’ll tell you when I saw the newspapers that morning my blood started to boil. Can you imagine those city reporters had written that the presidential oath had been administered by the light of an “old spluttering, greasy” oil lamp? No dirty lamps in my house – never! I’m not too proud to say that I consider my cleaning skills second to none. Every day I was up at dawn and had the laundry done before breakfast. If it was time for me to wash the kitchen floor, Cal (even though he was President of these United States) had to move his feet from under the breakfast table. Well, enough of that.
The Coolidges were always very good to me, and allowed me to remain in the house long after Col. Coolidge died. I kept everything as tidy as ever and was happy to entertain the many thousands of folks who came to see what is now called “The Oath of Office” room. Of course, this also gave me a chance to sell them a few knick knacks on the side; my braided chair pads were a great favorite. There wasn’t any need for electricity or plumbing – I got by just fine without those new fangled improvements. I have to admit that when the Homestead was given to the State of Vermont (after I had gone to the great hereafter, so to speak), everything was pretty much as it had been back on August 3, 1923. I think ol’ Cal would be pleased.