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Jimmy Carter, Oldest Living President
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 by Frank Shortt
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Jimmy Carter’s sojourn as president of the United States proved not to be such a success due to extenuating circumstances. He was said to be a little too un-liberal for his liberal minded counterparts.

Jimmy was said to have failed to gain the release of hostages, taken by the Iranian Government, on November 4, 1979. After two failed attempts to rescue the hostages, the majority of them were kept 444 days, even though diplomatic efforts on the part of Carter prevailed little. It is not really known what caused Iran, on January 20, 1981, to release the remainder of the hostages. This happened to be the day that Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president of the United States. Jimmy met the hostages in Germany to insure that they were well represented by the United States.

Jimmy became active on many fronts after his presidency. Notably, his “Habitat for Humanity” has been an active force for good throughout the world. Jimmy has also been an integral figure in gaining peace between Israel and Palestine. World leaders have recognized him as a man of his word and have depended heavily upon his guidance and leadership. Jimmy is a true southern gentleman seeking peace for all mankind!

February 8, 1995 dawned drizzly with a promise of rain the whole day. This was the day that Jimmy Carter was coming to Palo Alto to conduct a book-signing for his book of poetry, “Always a Reckoning, and Other Poems,” illustrated by his own granddaughter, Sarah Elizabeth Chuldenko. I was invited by a work colleague to go stand in line to obtain a signed copy of the book. I, in fact, took along another book by Jimmy and when I reached the table where he sat, I asked him to sign the other book for my wife. He graciously greeted me, signing both books, and smiled a knowing smile, as if to say, “That is what I would have done also.”

 This prompted me to write the following poem for Jimmy Carter after I returned home to San Jose:

February 8, 1995

Palo Alto was a’ hum last night

The media recorded it all

People lined the adjacent streets

To answer the collector’s call.

There was Bob, Leonard, Helen and Frank

And a lady who “loved” to read

An impressionistic artist who was married to Bob

And a hippie of no certain creed.

The incessant rain was no hindrance

To this headstrong, determined group

Their minds made up to endure to the end

They all showed plenty of poop!

Finally, the doors were swung open

To the cultural hall, and their goal

For hours and hours they had waited

Did anyone mind? Not a soul.

All this standing and aching

For four seconds of valuable time

As Jimmy signed volume on volume

He longed for ole Georgia’s clime.

Frank Shortt

February 9, 1995

After writing the poem, I did not feel that it should be presented as only a typed document. A friend of mine, Pam Maroni, was a wonderful Calligraphist, so I asked her if she would mind doing the poem in calligraphy. She graciously did so and I sent it to Jimmy along with some photographs that another friend had taken at the book-signing.

Jimmy was very pleased with the poem and sent me autographed photos, as well as, returned my check that I had sent to pay the return postage.

My next encounter with Jimmy Carter was when he came to San Jose on October 8, 2013 with his “Habitat for Humanity” group, first meeting at Cunningham Park and later going to the Cesar Chavez neighborhood to work on some houses there that needed repair.

Jimmy has undergone treatment for cancer, but hopefully, still teaches his Sunday School class in Plains, Georgia, as well as, trying to keep up with correspondence for all his causes. In October, he will reach the age of 97, God willing, and I am sure that he will keep up the good fight for humanity until he is no longer able.

Jimmy, I count it a pleasure to have, in a small way, shown my appreciation for all that you have accomplished as the humanitarian and gentleman that you are.