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Getty Images (Reagan)/Thinkstock (Life saver)/Erin McCarthy

The Summer Jobs of 14 Future U.S. Presidents

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Getty Images (Reagan)/Thinkstock (Life saver)/Erin McCarthy

Before landing our nation's top job, some presidents held less-than-glamorous gigs.

1. Barack Obama: Ice Cream Scooper and Sandwich Maker

In the mid 1970s, a teenage Obama served ice cream at a Honolulu Baskin-Robbins. It was his first job, and it made him lose his taste for the summer treat. Other years, Obama sold souvenirs in a gift shop and prepared sandwiches at a deli. Now that’s service we can believe in.

2. George W. Bush: Oilrig Roughneck and Ping Pong Peddler Extraordinaire

George Bush Presidential Library

The summer of 1965, Bush labored as a roughneck on an offshore oilrig near Louisiana. He said, “It was hard, hot work. I unloaded enough of those heavy mud sacks to know that was not what I wanted to do with my life.” His favorite summer job, though, was working as a sporting goods salesman at Sears. He was the leading salesman of ping-pong balls.

3. Bill Clinton: Grocery Worker and Comic Book Salesman

Clinton landed his first job when he was 13, working in an Arkansas grocery store.  There, he convinced the owner to let him sell comic books, and he happily grossed about $100. Another summer, Clinton worked as a camp counselor. He also spent a handful of sunny days attending band camp in the Ozark Mountains, honing his saxophone chops. 

4. Ronald Reagan: Circus Roustabout and Lifeguard

In 1925, Reagan held a brief stint as a circus roustabout with the Ringling Brothers, earning $0.25 an hour. The next year, the high school sophomore started working as a lifeguard at Lowell Park in Dixon, IL. He worked 12-hour days all week. By the time his lifeguarding career ended, he had saved 77 lives. While attending Eureka College, Reagan cooked hamburgers in the cafeteria and washed tables in the women’s dorm. (He liked the second job better.)

5. Gerald Ford: Park Ranger

During summer 1936, Ford was waiting to be admitted to Yale law school. To fill the time, he worked as a seasonal park ranger at Yellowstone National Park. One of his assignments was to work as an armed guard on a bear-feeding truck. He later called it “One of the greatest summers of my life.”

6. Richard Nixon: Chicken Plucker and Barker

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The summers of 1928 and 1929, little Richard visited his mother and older brother in Prescott, AZ. There, Nixon briefly worked for a local butcher, plucking and dressing chickens. Nixon’s favorite job, though, was working as a barker for a “Wheel of Fortune” gaming booth at the Slippery Gulch carnival. (He also worked as a pool boy at a country club and helped out at his father’s grocery store.)

7. Lyndon B. Johnson: Shoe Shiner and Goat Herder

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To make extra dough during summer vacation, a 9-year-old LBJ shined shoes. (He buffed footwear during high school, too.) One summer, Johnson landed a gig as a goat herder and even worked in his uncle’s cotton fields. After graduating high school, he hitchhiked the Californian coast, making money as a busboy and waiter. 

8. Herbert Hoover: Laundry Entrepreneur and Miner

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While studying at Stanford, Hoover started his own laundry service for students and worked as a clerk in the registration office. When he graduated, the geology major worked ten-hour shifts in a gold mine near Nevada City, California.

9. James Garfield:  Canal Boat Driver and Janitor

When he was 15, Garfield ventured to Cleveland, hoping to land a job as a sailor. It didn’t pan out. So he settled for a job as a canal boat driver, transporting copper ore between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. He never quite got his sea legs—he fell overboard 14 times and quit after 16 weeks. Later, while attending school in Ohio, he supported himself by working as a carpenter and janitor.

10. Ulysses S. Grant: Horse Trainer

Flickr

When Grant wasn’t laboring around his father’s farm, he was riding and training horses. He was so good at taming the animals that farmers from afar would bring him their most unruly horses. By age 10, he was driving passenger carriages between Georgetown, OH and Cincinnati—a long 45-mile trek.

11. Andrew Johnson: Tailor’s Apprentice

Starting around age 14, Johnson and his brother worked as tailor’s apprentices. But within three years, they had had enough. The duo ran away to the mother, and Johnson started his own tailoring business in Greeneville, TN. It was a good decision. He met his future wife there, and she eventually educated him.

12. Abraham Lincoln: Rail Splitter and Flatboat Pilot

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Lincoln split logs and built fences, earning him the nickname “Rail Splitter.” His father rented little Lincoln’s services to neighboring fathers, and Abe’s income helped keep the family going. Later, at 19, Lincoln became a flatboat pilot and steered it down the Mississippi to New Orleans. Boating was in his blood—he also worked as a ferry operator and even patented a device that helped boats float over shoals. He is the only president to hold a patent.

13. Millard Fillmore: Cloth Maker’s Apprentice

History.com

Born to a poor family, Fillmore had little schooling. So at 14, his father arranged an apprenticeship with a cloth maker. Rather than spending his income on candy, the uneducated Fillmore bought a dictionary. He’d bring it to the shop, and when his boss wasn’t looking, he’d flip it open and read.

14. Andrew Jackson: Saddler’s Apprentice and Schoolteacher

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Wanting to fight in the Revolutionary War, Jackson joined the militia at 13. The war, however, eventually orphaned him. So, a veteran by 14, Jackson moved to a relative’s house and worked as a saddler’s apprentice. He only kept the job for six months, and at age 16 became a schoolteacher in his Carolina home of Waxhaws.

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Courtesy of Freeman's
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History
For Sale: More Than 150 Items of Victorian Mourning Art, Clothing, and Jewelry
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Courtesy of Freeman's

Funeral fashion hasn't always been reserved for memorial services, judging from a massive memento mori auction that's being billed as perhaps the largest collection of mourning art ever offered for sale. Spotted by Atlas Obscura and sponsored by Philadelphia-based Freeman’s auction house, the online sale—which kicks off on Wednesday, November 15—features more than 150 works from a renowned private collection, ranging from clothing and jewelry to artworks.

During the Victorian era, people paid tribute to their loved ones by wearing black mourning garb and symbolic accessories. (The latter often featured jet or real locks of hair, according to a 2008 article published in the academic journal Omega.) They also commissioned death-themed artworks and objects, including paintings, as exhibited by Angus Trumble's 2007 book Love & Death: Art in the Age of Queen Victoria.

These items have long since fallen out of fashion, but some historic preservationists amassed their own macabre private collections. Anita Schorsch, who’s arguably the most famous collector of memento mori, used her historic treasures to launch the Museum of Mourning Art back in 1990. Located in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, the museum is—as its name suggests—the only institution in the nation devoted exclusively to mourning art. The museum has been closed since Schorsch's death in 2015, and the items featured in Freeman's auction are from her collection.

Check out some of its memento mori below, or view the online catalogue here.

Hairwork choker, 19th century-mori, from the Collection of Irvin and Anita Schorsch
Hairwork choker, 19th century-mori, from the Collection of Irvin and Anita Schorsch
Courtesy OF Freeman's


Hairwork shroud pin, 19th century, from the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's

Gold, enamel and pearl "Stuart crystal" mourning slide, made in late 17th century England and part of the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Gold, enamel and pearl "Stuart crystal" mourning slide, made in late 17th century England and part of the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's

Group of 19th century ladies and gentleman's mourning costumes, from the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Group of 19th century ladies and gentleman's mourning costumes, from the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's


18th century iron and brass cemetery padlock from London, England, part of the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Christie's Images Ltd. 2017
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History
Abraham Lincoln Letter About Slavery Could Fetch $700,000 at Auction
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Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, in which future president Abraham Lincoln spent seven debates discussing the issue of slavery with incumbent U.S. senator Stephen Douglas, paved the way for Lincoln’s eventual ascent to the presidency. Now part of that history can be yours, as the AP reports.

A signed letter from Lincoln to his friend Henry Asbury dated July 31, 1858 explores the “Freeport Question” he would later pose to Douglas during the debates, forcing the senator to publicly choose between two contrasting views related to slavery’s expansion in U.S. territories: whether it should be up to the people or the courts to decide where slavery was legal. (Douglas supported the popular choice argument, but that position was directly counter to the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision.)

The first page of a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Henry Asbury
Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

In the letter, Lincoln was responding to advice Asbury had sent him on preparing for his next debate with Douglas. Asbury essentially framed the Freeport Question for the politician. In his reply, Lincoln wrote that it was a great question, but would be difficult to get Douglas to answer:

"You shall have hard work to get him directly to the point whether a territorial Legislature has or has not the power to exclude slavery. But if you succeed in bringing him to it, though he will be compelled to say it possesses no such power; he will instantly take ground that slavery can not actually exist in the territories, unless the people desire it, and so give it protective territorial legislation."

Asbury's influence didn't end with the debates. A founder of Illinois's Republican Party, he was the first to suggest that Lincoln should run for president in 1860, and secured him the support of the local party.

The letter, valued at $500,000 to $700,000, is up for sale as part of a books and manuscripts auction that Christie’s will hold on December 5.

[h/t Associated Press]

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