When Grace Goodhue first set eyes on her future husband, Calvin Coolidge, it wasn’t love she felt welling up inside her. It was laughter.
She was watering flowers one morning outside her dormitory at the Clarke Institute for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she taught. Grace glanced up from her work and into the window of the building across the street. There, standing in the window, was a man dressed only in his underwear – a union suit – and a derby. And he was shaving.
Grace couldn’t help but laugh. Calvin heard it and paused, face coated in lather, and gazed down at the street, where he caught sight of a beautiful, dark-haired woman in a long skirt, blouse and magenta tie around her neck. Perhaps a bit embarrassed, Grace returned to her watering and soon wandered back into the dormitory.
Their meet-cute left Calvin intrigued. Grace was also curious about this handsome, if oddly attired, man.
The two met soon afterward. Grace explained years later that the same janitor worked in her building and Calvin’s, so she asked the man to deliver a potted flower, a nasturtium, to Calvin. The janitor returned to Grace with a note from Calvin, asking if might pay her a visit.
Either way, the two soon arranged to meet through a mutual acquaintance, Robert Weir, who worked at the school. When Weir spoke with Grace about his quiet friend Calvin, he quipped that since she had taught the deaf to hear, perhaps she could make the mute speak.
Calvin was eager to speak with Grace, wanting to explain his strange attire the other day. He had a habit of wearing a hat while shaving, he explained, because it was the only way to keep an unmanageable lock of hair out of his eyes.
Another version of the story says it was Calvin who was trying to track down Grace. Perhaps both were true.