Booth museum fosters 4-year-old's interest in U.S. presidents
by Marie Nesmith
Feb 07, 2011 | 5876 views | 0 0 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Four-year-old Eli Ford, who can recite more information about U.S. Presidents than most adults, pauses at the Rossin painting, “A Meeting in Time,” that is just outside the Presidential Gallery at the Booth Western Art Museum.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Four-year-old Eli Ford, who can recite more information about U.S. Presidents than most adults, pauses at the Rossin painting, “A Meeting in Time,” that is just outside the Presidential Gallery at the Booth Western Art Museum. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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At 4, Eli Ford is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to U.S. presidents.

"George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Clark Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush's daddy [George H. W. Bush], Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama," Eli recited from memory in less than two minutes, after revealing his favorite president is Hoover, because of the politician's red hair.

Even though he is not yet old enough to read, Eli's memorization skills are impressive, being able to recall interesting facts and identify the presidents from photographs. From memory, he can name the 18 U.S. presidents featured in Rossin's "A Meeting in Time" oil painting, displayed at the Booth Western Art Museum, 501 Museum Drive in Cartersville.

Fascinated by her grandson's interest in the U.S. presidents, Kingston resident Charlotte Ford is delighted to have a venue like the Booth in her home county. Along with acquiring the largest permanent exhibition of Western art in the country, the Booth also features the Carolyn and James Millar Presidential Gallery, where patrons can view a display on each U.S. president.

"We went [first] to the Booth museum [in August], because I thought he would like the bottom floor," Ford said. "But he [spends] probably 80 percent of his time when he goes in the presidents' room. He just loves it and he's not even 4 and a half. ... [In the presidential gallery,] he stands in front of each picture and talks about the picture and then wants me to tell him an interesting fact. ... He's learned a lot more [at the Booth]. It [has given] him a bigger picture."

According to its website, www.boothmuseum.org, the Cartersville museum felt led to dedicate one gallery to the presidents, because "since the birth of our nation, forty-[four] men have been selected to serve as president of the United States. While their names have been memorized and their accomplishments recited for years, we often forget that these men had the same hopes, fears, loves, dreams and passions that we all share.

"Much of our knowledge of these remarkable leaders can be found in letters they sent to their opponents, acquaintances and family members. In these letters, we obtain a glimpse of American history from a truly unique perspective. We are able to see these men as they were. From the compassion of Abraham Lincoln to the playful correspondence of John F. Kennedy, these letters help to humanize the men we have chosen to lead our country. The Booth Western Art Museum has in its collection a one-page, signed letter from each president. The original letters are on exhibit, along with portrait photographs of each president and a variety of presidential memorabilia."

Due to the offering's subject matter, Eli -- the son of Brandon and Stephanie Ford of Dallas -- decided to attend the museum's Wednesday Art for Lunch program, titled "Vice Presidents & First Ladies," which was in honor of Presidents' Day. Arriving in a suit, Ford said, her grandson soon became a topic of interest and was recognized for his presidential knowledge.

Eli's fascination with the presidents was sparked about two years ago, after he received a placemat from his other grandmother containing the politicians' headshots.

"On his own, he has just desired information on the presidents," Ford said. "If you read him a book, he can tell you all about it. I'm just coming back from getting my hair cut and he [was] telling the guy who cut my hair about the vice presidents, [like] who didn't have a vice president, who did. You name the number, he can name the president. He can name the vice president.

"You ask, 'Who was the president from a state?' He can tell you, who was from a state. He can tell you interesting facts about numerous ones. ... He [also] watches the History Channel. He's had his mother tape all the presidential [biography shows.] So, for a treat, he gets to watch one of the presidents on the History Channel. [And] this morning at home we were playing Duck, Duck, Goose, but he calls it 'President, President, Goose.' Everything is about the presidents. We don't know how he got this interested, but it's just like a kid [who] gets fixated on dinosaurs. My other grandchild, who is his age, is all about ocean animals. He can tell you things that I wouldn't even want to learn, but [for] Eli [it is] the presidents. He just loves them."