PLAINS TWP. — Larry Cook was 3 years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, an event etched in his memory.
The impact of that tragic day in American history on Nov. 22, 1963, left an indelible mark on Cook, who would dedicate much of his life to collecting presidential memorabilia and discovering interesting facts about our 44 presidents — well, 43 if you count Grover Cleveland as one president — he had two non-consecutive terms.
The book — “Presidential Coincidences, Amazing Facts and Collectibles” — written by Cook and published by Nick of Time Printing in Dallas, includes 100 pages of little-known facts about our 44 presidents and photos of some of Cook’s collection of presidential memorabilia.
Cook, 53, and his wife, Diane, own Cook & Cook Estate Liquidators on Carey Street in Plains Township. They have become friends with former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn.
The Carters will be in the Wyoming Valley on May 28 when the former president will speak at the Wyoming Monument. They will be feted that evening at a dinner at the Stegmaier Mansion on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre.
Cook will hold a book signing from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday at his business, 29 E. Carey St. Another book signing is being planned for April 28 at Barnes & Noble in the Arena Hub Plaza near the Wyoming Valley Mall.
The photos of Cook’s presidential memorabilia represent about 20 percent of his entire collection.
“I’ve been interested in facts about our presidents since I was a kid,” Cook said. “I found a great way to study the presidency was to collect related memorabilia.”
He said doing the research of presidential memorabilia lead to more and more facts — some never before known by the public. The more he learned, the more he wanted to search for more facts and more memorabilia, he said.
“The intention of this book is to inspire,” he said. “Collecting presidential memorabilia is a true testament to the people and events that have made history and shaped a nation.”
Cook started writing the book in 2005 and he credits his wife, Diane, for giving him that extra push to finish it.
Cook spoke at the Jimmy Carter Museum in Plains, Ga. on President’s Day and he left a copy of the book for the former president. The book will be distributed at National Park Service Jimmy Carter Museum in Georgian and in other National Parks gift stores.
Some quirky presidential facts from Cook’s book:
• At the time of his death on Jan. 5, 1933, former President Calvin Coolidge was working on a jigsaw puzzle of George Washington.
• James Madison, at 5 feet, 4 inches tall, was the shortest U.S. president. At 100 pounds, he was the lightest president as well.
• At 6 feet, 4 inches, Abraham Lincoln was the tallest president.
• One of Lincoln’s last official acts was to sign legislation for the formation of the U.S. Secret Service.
• James Garfield could write in Latin with one hand and Greek with the other hand — at the same time.
• At 332 pounds, William H. Taft was the heaviest president.
• Herbert Hoover never took a salary as president.
• Harry Truman’s middle initial S was his entire middle name.
• Ronald Reagan was the oldest president to leave office — 77.