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The Quick 10: 10 Nicknames of U.S. First Ladies

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We all know lots about the U.S. Presidents - maybe too much (Monica Lewinsky, anyone?). But most of us don't know that much about the women who stood behind the men in office. Now you'll know a little bit more about 10 of them.

10 Nicknames of U.S. First Ladies

1. Lemonade Lucy, Lucy Hayes. Ulysses S. Grant made sure to have the White House wine cellar stocked up before he left so the Hayes administration would have plenty, but he shouldn't have bothered. Lucy didn't even allow guests to drink at her White House, with one exception: a group of Russian visitors in 1877.
2. Queen Mother, Dolley Madison. Dolley was a much-beloved First Lady. So much so, that even after her tenure as First Lady was over and even after her husband died, it became customary for incoming Presidents to visit her to receive her blessing before taking office.
3. Mrs. Presidentress, Julia Tyler. Mrs. Tyler took the liberty of naming herself. When she and her husband left the White House, she even insisted on being called "Mrs. Ex-Presidentress."
4. Sahara Sarah, Sarah Polk. Before Lemonade Lucy, there was Sahara Sarah. A deeply religious woman, Mrs. Polk didn't allow business to be conducted on Sundays and also didn't allow drinking, dancing or card-playing at the White House.
5. Shadow of the White House, Jane Pierce. You can hardly blame Jane for retreating into herself - all three of her children died when they were young. The last of them, Bennie, was decapitated right in front of her eyes. After that, she spent most of her time at the White House holed up in her room, writing her sons letters begging for forgiveness.
6. Nervous Nellie, Helen Taft. By all accounts, Helen had just as much ambition to be in the White House as her husband, if not more. Once they were in office, Helen injected herself into all White House proceedings. This gave the impression that she thought her husband could not make decisions on his own, thus earning her the Nervous moniker.
7. The Duchess, Florence Harding. Before either one of the Fergies, there was Flo. How did she get her name? When she said, "Jump," everyone, including her husband, said, "How high?"
8. Lady Bird, Claudia Johnson. Mrs. Johnson was one of the only First Ladies known almost exclusively by her nickname. She received it at birth, when a nurse picked her up and declared her as pretty as a lady bird.
9. Plastic Pat, Pat Nixon. Plastic Pat became Plastic thanks to her husband's wrongdoings - she became famous for plastering a smile on her face during press conferences addressing Tricky Dick's scandals. Tricky Dick and Plastic Pat - what a pair.
10. Evita of Santa Barbara. Nancy may be a grandmotherly type now, but when "Ronnie" was first elected, she was a bit of a glamour-puss. She showed up at events wearing mink and other expensive items, which people thought was a bit tasteless, considering the economic crisis a lot of Americans were faced with at the time. The press gave her the unflattering nickname, but ultimately, it didn't stick.

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Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.


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