The question was, “Which United States president spent the most time living in New York City?”
The answer is Chester A. Arthur.
The query came in a presentation on Tuesday, Sept. 23, by John F. Roche, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history at Fordham. His lecture on the 15 presidents who have called the city home was a highlight of a luncheon given for members of the 1841 Society, which recognizes people who establish a life income gift at Fordham or include the University in their estate plans.
Roche, a member of Fordham’s faculty for more than 50 years and an 1841 Society member himself, shared interesting historical anecdotes, like the fact that Richard M. Nixon’s application for a co-op on Park Avenue was turned down, and that John F. Kennedy lived in Riverdale and attended Riverdale Country Day School when he was 10.
But it was John Adams’ opinion of 18th-century New Yorkers that got the most laughs from the crowd.
“I have not seen one real gentleman, one well bred man, since I came to town. At their entertainments, there is no conversation that is agreeable,” Roche said, quoting Adams. “There is no modesty, no attention to one another. They talk very loud, very fast and all together. If they ask you a question, before you can utter three words of your answer, they will break out on you and talk away.”
John N. Tognino (FCLS ’75), chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees, reflected on his time at Fordham. At his graduation ceremony, he joked that the dean of Fordham College of Liberal Studies invited his wife, Norma, to join him on stage, in recognition of the many times she drove from their home in Ardsley, N.Y. to help Tognino retrieve his keys, which he often misplaced in his rush from Wall Street to class.
“One lesson that all of us have learned during our time at Fordham is the importance of giving back, and Norma and I were fortunate to give back,” he said.
Tognino noted that the 1841 Society, which takes its name from the year of Fordham’s founding, has made it possible for them to do more for the University.
“This is really a model of what it’s all about: how to extend the gracefulness of Fordham, how to work and be creative and be responsive, and to that we say thank you,” he said.