WHO CUT DOWN THE CHERRY TREE?
How To Remember All The US Presidents In Order
THIS IS AN EXTENDED VERSION OF CHAPTER 4, PG. 77-82 FROM REMEMBER IT!
Whether it was all the English kings and queens, the Chinese dynasties, or the U.S. presidents, you undoubtedly at one point in your school years had to commit a challenging historical lists to memory. After countless hours of studying, then having your parents drill you, you took a test on it at school, only to forget it all as quickly as you wrote everything down on said test. The whole process most likely left you exhausted and fed up with your memory. It’s not fair, because had you been given just a bit of proper memory guidance, you might have actually enjoyed the process of memorizing that list. Not only would it have taken way less time to memorize, but it would have been fun too!
Let’s put those bad memory memories aside and learn how to use the Linking Method. I promise you it will change how you approach memorizing large amounts of information forever! Using the Linking Method, we can commit a sizeable list, like the U.S. presidents, to memory in one sitting of less than fifteen minutes (yes, seriously). Normally, memorizing the U.S. Presidents would seem like an arduous task – forty-five names in all – but by using this simple technique, they can be learned quickly, and without much effort.
The best way to start is for me to help you visualize the chain of images that will represent our images (i.e. the presidents). Instead of worrying about who or what is linked to what, I just want you to sit back, relax, and read the little narrative I’m about to share. The only thing I ask of you is to pay attention as you take it all in and visualize each little scene as best as you can. Got it?
A last few tidbits: We’ll be memorizing forty-five U.S. presidents, each of whom have a first, middle, and last name. But we’re are going to focus on the last names first. Any extra information you might want to add afterwards can be done once the main linked list is set in your mind (I’ll show you an example or two when we’re finished). Once that main linked list is set, you can add the full name and any other fact you want to recall. Also, as you read through this story, if you’re unsure of why an image represents a president, just refer to the list below where I’ve listed all the images and the reasoning behind them.
So where do we begin? With “Washington” of course. So, let’s start by picturing a washing machine (Washington) washing a ton of bright-green Granny Smith apples (Adams). Along comes a chubby chef (Jefferson) who takes the apples out of the washing machine and puts on a maid’s uniform (Madison). He then gets inside of a rowing boat and starts rowing; he is a man rowing (Monroe).
As the chef in a maid’s costume rows downstream, he sees something off in the distance. Squinting to see what it is, he sees a dam (Quincy Adams). On top of the dam is Michael Jackson (Jackson) doing the Moonwalk and grabbing his crotch, SHAM-OWNNN!. A burning van (Van Buren) comes out of nowhere and slams into him; water spurts everywhere, splattering on an innocent bystander who happens to be Harrison Ford (Harrison), who is in the middle of tying his necktie (Tyler). The necktie comes alive and starts poking (Polk) Harrison Ford in the face. In fact, the necktie pokes him so hard that a tail (Taylor) pops out of his rear-end.
Since this is all pretty weird, a filmer (Fillmore) begins to document the whole charade on film. But, by accident, the camera that the filmer is using happens to explode, and shrapnel from the camera pierces (Pierce) the back of a cannon lying off to the side of the dam. This lights the fuse of the cannon, causing it to fire and launch a bunch of book-shaped cannonballs (Buchanan) BOOM! landing on President Lincoln’s (Lincoln) feet.
Lincoln happens to be sitting across the way, on a toilet, or rather, a “john” (Johnson). His son, he tells you randomly, just received a grant (Grant) to go to college and is joining a fraternity and is in the process of being hazed (Hayes). Part of the hazing process involves shaving Garfield (Garfield) the Cat. As the cat is being shaved though, the cat pulls out a sword from a nearby stone, like King Arthur (Arthur), in his defense. The shaving stops immediately and the cat runs away, escaping as far away as he can to Cleveland (Cleveland), Ohio.
Remember Harrison Ford? Well, of all the absurd coincidences in the world, he happens to be Garfield’s best friend. He gives Harrison Ford (Harrison) a call and convinces him to join him in Cleveland (Cleveland, again). So he does. Once he arrives, they decide to go on an expedition to Alaska to climb Mt. McKinley (McKinley), the tallest mountain in the U.S. While there, they run into big, wild bears — Teddy Bears (Teddy Roosevelt), to be precise. In a desperate attempt to avoid them, they jump into a raft (Taft) that takes them down a river further off into the wilderness. Sadly, they get stranded on the raft for many days and go a bit insane, naming a volleyball they found, Wilson (Wilson), to keep them company.
In the midst of their insanity, they find a CD player floating down the river that shockingly still works. Listening to it, they find that it is playing some hard (Harding) rock. They both start feeling all cool (Coolidge) while listening to it and decide to vacuum, or hoover (Hoover) the raft to make it clean.
Suddenly the raft pops as they find themselves having gone through an over-grown set of rose (Roosevelt, different one) branches with thorns that were sticking out of the water. They both swim to shore where they find themselves even more stranded than before. It is in these hard times, that they decide to become truthful men (Truman). Using their minds together and their eyes’ power (Eisenhower), they see an airplane passing overhead.
Making a rope out of branches and vines, they manage to latch onto the plane and hitch a ride to safety. The plane takes them all the way to JFK (JFK) Airport in NYC. The arrive completely wrecked and starving, having not eaten in days. They beg for some food and score some awesome PB&J sandwiches. Unfortunately, the sandwiches don’t have peanut butter on them and instead have light butter, so it’s really an LB&J (LBJ).
After feeding themselves, they take off their knickers (Nixon) and jump into a stranded Ford (Ford) car (Carter) sitting outside the terminal. Inside the car, they find a ray-gun (Reagan) attached to its roof. As they drive along, they fire the gun like crazy and even use it to mow down a big bush (Bush) in their path. Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker named Clinton (Clinton), run through another bush (Bush), and then all explode into a fiery blaze as they run into a bomb (Obama) that happens to be laying in the middle of the street near Trump Tower (Trump).
Washington – washing machine
Adams – apples (as in Adam’s Apples)
Jefferson – chef (chef-erson)
Madison – maid (maid-ison)
Monroe – man rowing (man-row)
Quincy Adams – squinting at a dam (s-quinty a-dam)
Jackson – Michael Jackson
Van Buren – van burning
Harrison – Harrison Ford
Tyler – necktie (tie-ler)
Polk – poking (the action of poking)
Taylor – tail (tail-or)
Fillmore – filmer (someone filming with a camera)
Pierce – piercing (the action of piercing something)
Buchanan – book-canon
Lincoln – President Lincoln
Johnson – toilet or john
Grant – grant (college grant)
Hayes – being hazed
Garfield – Garfield the Cat
Arthur – King Arthur (sword in the stone)
Cleveland – Cleveland, Ohio
Harrison – Harry Potter (again)
Cleveland – Cleveland, Ohio (again)
McKinley – Mt. McKinley (Denali)
Roosevelt (Teddy) – teddy bear
Taft – raft
Wilson – Wilson brand volleyball
Harding – hard
Coolidge – acting cool
Hoover – hoover or vacuum cleaner
Roosevelt – rose
Truman – truthful man
Eisenhower – eye power (eyes-en-power)
JFK (Kennedy) – JFK airport
LBJ (Johnson) – LB&J sandwich
Nixon – knickers (Knicks-on)
Ford – Ford car
Carter – car
Reagan – ray-gun
Bush – bush
Clinton – Clinton himself
Bush Jr. – bush (again)
Obama – bomb (o-bomb-a)
Trump – trump tower
Ta-da! Easy as pie. I know it’s the silliest story every, but re-read it and really try and visualize the story! It’s easy to remember and fun! And I guarantee that if you close your eyes and try to retell the story only after one or two read-throughs, you’ll have the entire story memorized. Amazing! Isn’t it incredible how our brains just absorb that kind of narrative-based, bizarre stuff right up?
If you want to further the mastery of this list, one step you can take is to mark every 5th president in the list with a number so you can quickly find which president was 25th, 19th, or 41st, etc., in a matter of seconds. To do this, go back over the story and add the following details:
1. Washington (1st president, on a dollar bill, easy)
5. Monroe (imagine there are 5 oars attached to the row-boat)
10. Tyler (he ties 10 neckties around his neck)
15. Buchanan (imagine precisely 15 book-shaped cannonballs being fired)
20. Garfield (he’s a fat cat, weighing 20 lbs.)
25. McKinley (the mountain is nearly 25,000 ft. above sea-level)
30. Coolidge (imagine they listen to exactly 30 seconds of hard rock to pump them up so suddenly)
35. JFK (the minimum age to be president is 35; also, JFK was a very young president)
40. Reagan (from their shooting spree with the ray-gun, they cause 40 casualties)
45. Trump (imagine the Trump Tower is 45 floors high)
With this numerically tagged system, people can ask you who the 26th president was, for example, and you’ll remember McKinley as the 25th and then move on to the next image in the story (Teddy Bears = Teddy Roosevelt). If someone asks you 13th president, for example, you would first remember Tyler, the 10th president, and then move up three images in the story (neckties are poking Harrison Ford in the face, he grows a tail, then a filmer starts filming the scene = Fillmore!), etc.
ADDING MORE INFO
To add more detail to each president, simply take each image and give it more detail and links to the sub-data you wish to add. For example, the 43rd President is George W. Bush. We only memorized Bush in our story (we pictured a bush). Now, take that image of a bush and give it more detail. Maybe instead of it being just a plain old bush, picture George of the Jungle swinging from tree-to-tree inside it, and instead of swinging from a standard rope, picture him swinging from a W shaped rope. Voila. It’s not just a Bush anymore, it’s a George W. Bush!
Or what if we wanted to remember that a certain president died in office, like Zachary Taylor, who supposedly died from cholera during his term. How fitting, since the tail (Taylor) that shot out of Harrison Ford’s rear-end happened to cause massive amounts of intestinal discomfort and diarrhea (i.e. cholera)! That little added thought-process of coming up with some association between cholera and our image for President Taylor (tail) is all we need to remember he died from cholera.
Another creative way to remember some small similarity across numerous parts of your list (like which presidents died in office), just decide on some common image that will represent that fact. In this case, “death,” could be imagined by dousing your image in red paint or incorporating the color red in some way (the color red is an arbitrary choice, it could have been anything. I just felt that red is a pretty pronounced color and usually represents something dangerous or bad, like death). There were seven presidents who died in office:
William Henry Harrison
James A. Garfield
Warren G. Harding
Franklin D. Roosevelt
John F. Kennedy
Let’s take each of their images and incorporate red on each of them (it will kind of be liking flagging them, so they will be easy to notice when we are recalling that specific piece of information):
Harry Potter (when we first meet him) is covered in red paint
That tail that pokes out of his rear-end is all red.
Lincoln, painted red.
Garfield has red fur.
McKinley’s summit is covered in red snow!
The hard rock music they listen to comes out of a red CD player
Roses are red, duh!
Graphic but, Kennedy covered in blood.
There you have it! The amount of detail you can add is limitless and depends on how far you want to take it.