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Americans Keep Close to Home for 'Staycations'

Also: A question from Cambodia about what American presidents do when they leave office. And we remember soul singer and actor Isaac Hayes. Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson.

Today we report about "staycations," vacations close to home ...

Answer a question about American presidents after they leave office …

And play music by Isaac Hayes, who died this week.



August is a popular time for Americans to go on their summer vacations. But this year many Americans are not traveling very far. Many people are deciding to take "staycations," vacations where you stay at home. Barbara Klein tells us more.



This summer, many Americans are feeling the effects of increased prices for many things, including gasoline and airline tickets. The exchange rate of the dollar has also made international travel much more costly for Americans. One smart way Americans are avoiding such high costs is by taking vacations at home instead of driving or flying to faraway places. Staycations make hotels, long drives and airline flights unnecessary. And, they provide a chance for people to enjoy activities in their hometown.

Many Americans consider their time at home like a real vacation. They pay their bills and take care of housework ahead of time so they will be able to have more fun. And they use local travel guides to find good information about nearby places to visit.

Several cities in the United States have launched creative marketing campaigns to get their citizens to have fun staying in town.

For example, if you lived in Boston, Massachusetts, you might see three and a half meter tall red pins placed near important cultural and historical places in the city. These large structures can be found in places such as the Boston Common and the New England Aquarium. The pins show Bostonians and visitors all the interesting places to see in the city.

San Diego, California, has a staycation campaign aimed at people who live within a day's drive of the city. The San Diego visitors center has a Web site that makes finding restaurants and events in the city easy. The Web site states that nothing should stand in the way of a good vacation -- not even a slow economy.

New York City has a "Go Local" Web site that gives a list of free or low cost activities around the city. For example, activities last weekend included an International Yo-Yo convention and a food tour of the Harlem neighborhood.

Of course, not all Americans live in big cities. Staycations also offer a chance to read, enjoy nature, go to the local swimming pool, spend time with family and just rest. And that sounds like a nice vacation to us!

Former Presidents


Our listener question this week comes from Cambodia. Sophosh Warng wants to know what American presidents do when they leave office.

After a president serves two terms in office he or she may not run for president again. However, a former president may stay in politics as an elected member of Congress. For example, America's sixth president, John Quincy Adams, served as a member of the House of Representatives after he left office as president.

The seventeenth president, Andrew Johnson, was later elected to the Senate. A president may even become a Supreme Court judge. William Howard Taft became chief justice several years after completing his term as president in nineteen thirteen.

It is more common for former presidents to publish books about their experiences or speak to groups of people about many different issues.

Stephen Wayne is an expert on the American presidency and the author of "The Road to the White House." He said that presidents "make money, they raise money, they write books and do other kinds of things like volunteer their time." Mister Wayne said that former presidents want to "talk about their experience and use their position to tell the next president and the government how to make it a better world."

Former president Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to solve issues related to human rights. He continues to help build homes for poor people with the organization Habitat for Humanity.

Former Ppesident Bill Clinton leads a private foundation that carries out a number of projects in developing countries. These include H.I.V and AIDS treatment, poverty reduction, leadership development and working toward racial, ethnic and religious understanding.

Former presidents also receive large amounts of money each year called pensions. They receive almost two hundred thousand dollars each year for the rest of their lives. They also receive money for travel, supplies for their office and to pay the people who work for them.

Isaac Hayes


Singer, songwriter and actor Isaac Hayes died last Sunday at his home in East Memphis, Tennessee. Hayes' doctor said the sixty-five-year-old musician died of a stroke. Katherine Cole tells about Isaac Hayes and plays some of his music.

(MUSIC: "Theme from Shaft")


That music comes from the nineteen seventy-one movie "Shaft." It earned composer Isaac Hayes an Academy Award for Best Original Song. He also won two Grammy Awards for the movie's music.

Isaac Hayes was born in Covington, Tennessee in nineteen forty-two. His mother died young and his father left when he was a child. Isaac's grandparents raised him. He worked in cotton fields while growing up.

Isaac started singing in church when he was just five years old. He also taught himself to play piano and other instruments.

Hayes started his career in the music industry in the nineteen sixties in Memphis. He wrote the songs "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Coming" which became hits for the group Sam and Dave.


Isaac Hayes released the album "Hot Buttered Soul" in nineteen sixty-nine. It was one of his biggest hits. He included a version of the pop song "Walk on By" on the record.


Isaac Hayes also loved to act. He performed in more than thirty films. His last film was "Soul Men" which is to be released in November. Hayes starred in that movie with actor and comedian Bernie Mac. Sadly and strangely, Bernie Mac died of lung sickness just the day before Isaac Hayes.

Isaac Hayes was admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in two thousand two. We leave you with the famed soul singer performing "Never Can Say Goodbye."



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written by Dana Demange, Elizabeth Stern and Caty Weaver who was also the producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site,

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.