I loved knowing Teddy Roosevelt, my favorite president, coined the name, The White House formerly called, The President’s House after inscribing it on his personal stationary while his successor, William Howard Taft, created the Oval Office.
Teddy then added the West Wing, since his family of 8 was bursting at the seams, and built the first White House tennis courts after bullying a stingy Congress to pay for them…an evangelist of exercise, Angelo called him, and he was, running and boxing with his four boys across the South Lawn.
Harry Truman fast walked daily (in loafers), while Eisenhower, an avid golfer, left cleat marks on the parquet floor of the Oval Office that are still there, and had squirrels relocated to Rock Creek Park who buried nuts on his pristine putting green.
The Coolidge family’s raccoon, Rebecca, who had the run of the house. Caroline Kennedy’s pony, Macaroni, making daily visits to the Oval, and Laura Bush’s Barney, a Scottish terrier she called, the son she never had.
But my favorite pet tale is when Quentin Roosevelt, Teddy’s youngest, decided when his brother Archie was in bed with measles, to bring Algonquin, his pony, to visit, squeezing him into the White House elevator thinking he would surely cheer Archie up, a wild success.
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt entertained 323 houseguests in one year, having to absorb the cost since, you’re charged for every unofficial meal (something that threw Nancy Reagan) as well as being responsible for your dry cleaning bill along with buying one’s own toothpaste.
In other words, presidential occupancy isn’t totally funded by our tax dollars.
I’d have loved to have seen the Kennedy’s dry cleaning bill since JFK changed suits three to four times a day, and Jackie as we know, was a fashion femme fatale.
Taft, weighing in at 332 pounds, had a special bathtub made since he allegedly got stuck in the old one. It was huge, large enough to hold four working men sitting down. Poor Will, who behind his wife, Nellie’s, back snuck desserts like a naughty boy, who would then toss out the very first baseball.
Julia, U.S. Grant’s Missus, tried her best to stay in their home very close by only using the executive mansion for state affairs, but Congress said NO…all First Families live at the President’s House, that she eventually grew to love saying, the eight years they lived there were her happiest.
Ida McKinley hung horseshoes in her bedroom for luck.
Mary Todd Lincoln held seances in the Red Room hoping to contact her two dead sons.
Nancy Reagan also had them, but wasn’t considered as nuts as Mary. A matter of opinion.
I could go on and on.
LBJ’s special pulsating shower Nixon angrily pulled out, along with the famous White House swimming pool JFK had his midday erotic romps in. When I read it was actually built for FDR with money raised by school children, it made me mad, growling at Richard Nixon, or Dick, which seems more apt, for razing history before raising eyebrows over Watergate.
Bonnie Angelo wrote, The White House, enduring such change, has good bones.
History’s really something, isn’t it?