Today’s column has a rundown of the visits made by four sitting presidents to Pomona: Benjamin Harrison (1891), William McKinley (1901), William Howard Taft (1911) and Herbert Hoover (1932). Here are more details about Taft’s appearance, taken from a Pomona Progress article unearthed by the Pomona Public Library (bless ‘em); they also contributed the photo above.
Taft spoke at the Pomona depot downtown from the rear of his train on Oct. 17, 1911. He was given a key to the city, baskets of fruit and flowers by the Ebell Club, B.P.O. Elks No. 789, the Board of Trade and the Ohio society, and a basket of grapes from the Unitarian Church. It seems that the Senate chaplain, the Rev. U.G.B. Pierce, had been the Pomona First Unitarian pastor for six years.
Here is the full text of the president’s remarks as taken from the Progress:
“Ladies and gentlemen of Pomona:
“I am greatly surprised and greatly delighted at your cordial reception as shown by the number of those who have done me the honor to come here to greet me. I am delighted to see the children. Are you glad to see me, children? (Cries of ‘Yes, yes.’) Well, do you have a holiday because I am here. (‘No.’) The little ones do, and I hope you will remember me by that.
“I congratulate the people of Pomona on having such a delightful place to live. I am told that there are no rich people in Pomona and no poor people, that you are all in that condition that enables you to look at life from a proper standpoint, that you have not accumulated a lot of money and are sitting on it just for the purpose of contemplating it and seeing it grow, but that you are able to enjoy life, to be philosophical, to do the best you can for the community and the country and to rejoice in the success of everybody. Now, that’s a condition that calls for congratulation.
“Over in some of your neighboring towns I found great evidence of wealth that possibly combines with happiness, but I am glad to know that you have just enough and that you don’t want anymore.
“As I go through this country and see all this beautiful fruit — and I am a fruit eater — I feel as if I would like to have a good deal bigger capacity than I have in order that I might carry away even more delightful recollections of Pomona. Good-by.”