Athol writer pens 4th book on Coolidge


  • The back cover of Athol writer J.R. Greene’s newest book, “Calvin Coolidge in 100 Objects.” SCANNED IMAGE

  • The cover of Athol writer J.R. Greene’s latest book, “Calvin Coolidge in 100 Objects.” SCANNED IMAGE

  • “Sermon in Boots,” taken on Aug. 10, 1927. This image is included in Athol writer J.R. Greene’s newest book, “Calvin Coolidge in 100 Objects.” SCANNED IMAGE

  • The front flap of a 12-page pamphlet when Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Calvin Coolidge was running for governor, a race he won. This image is included in Athol writer J.R. Greene’s newest book, “Calvin Coolidge in 100 Objects.” SCANNED IMAGE

  • A re-election campaign booklet for Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge and Lt. Gov. Channing H. Cox. This image is included in Athol writer J.R. Greene’s newest book, “Calvin Coolidge in 100 Objects.” SCANNED IMAGE


Staff Writer
Published: 12/17/2021 4:18:41 PM

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, was known as “Silent Cal” due to his quiet demeanor and being a man of few words.

Also, he died in 1933. So Athol writer J.R. Greene uses the help of 100 items to tell the story of the man who graduated from Amherst College and went on to lead the nation.

Greene has penned “Calvin Coolidge in 100 Objects,” about the former Northampton mayor and Massachusetts governor. It is his 23rd book and his fourth pertaining to Coolidge.

“He’s an interesting character because somebody like him could probably not get very far in politics in this day and age,” Greene said. “He’s (reported) to have said, ‘Things I don’t say can’t be used against me’ — unlike a very recent president.”

The 102-page book is filled with descriptions of images of letters, fliers, pamphlets, photographs and other items associated with Coolidge’s life and political career. Some of the artifacts include a booklet containing excerpts of Coolidge’s second presidential inaugural address in March 1925, a record of a talk he recorded in the Cabinet Room of the White House in August of that year, and an 11-by-8-inch cardboard fan promoting the idea to “Keep Coolidge President.”

Greene said he owns about 95% of the items in the book, while the others are stored at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum at Forbes Library in Northampton, where Coolidge’s widow donated many items.

Greene, a collectibles dealer specializing in ephemera (written or printed materials not meant to be preserved), has had a fascination with Coolidge since the mid-1980s. He found himself frequently dealing in postcards from when Coolidge was president and from Coolidge’s hometown of Plymouth, Vermont.

Greene, who has written 16 books pertaining to the North Quabbin region and a few about railroads, learned state Rep. Coolidge traveled for many years from Northampton to Boston on the Central Mass Division of the Boston and Maine Railroad, the predecessor to the Central Massachusetts Railroad.

“That was one of the initial launches of manifesting my interest of him,” Greene said. “It made it kind of interesting for me to look into him.”

A book signing was held at the Athol Public Library on Dec. 7.

Coolidge was born in Vermont on July 4, 1872. After graduating from Amherst College, he started a career in law and politics in Northampton. Greene said Coolidge did not attend law school but, as was common in those days, apprenticed with a local law firm to pass the oral bar exam and be admitted to the Massachusetts bar. Coolidge eventually became mayor of Northampton, a state representative, a state senator, lieutenant governor and governor before becoming vice president of the United States when he was Warren G. Harding’s running mate.

Coolidge was visiting his family home on Aug. 2, 1923, when Harding died in San Francisco while on a speaking tour. Coolidge was notified of Harding’s death and his father, a notary public and justice of the peace, administered the oath of office in the family’s parlor in the middle of the night. Greene said Coolidge’s father was not a federal official and a quiet inauguration was held shortly thereafter to preempt questions of the new presidency’s legitimacy.

He was elected in his own right in 1924 and declined to run for reelection in 1928. He returned to Northampton and lived there for the rest of his life.

“Calvin Coolidge in 100 Objects” is available for $19.95 at outlets in Greenfield, Athol, Orange, New Salem, Amherst, Northampton, Shelburne Falls, Erving and South Hadley. Anyone interested in purchasing a copy can also send Greene an email at Greene’s 2022 Quabbin calendar (the 37th annual) sells for $16.95.


Reach Domenic Poli at or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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