« This Day in History: Apr. 11 | Main | Cime and Punishment at the Old Bailey »

Working at the White House

whitehouse.jpg As if it weren't already hard enough to be president of the United States—now former, current, and prospective holders of the nation's highest office have something else to worry about: loose-lipped servants. The Working White House, a Smithsonian exhibition scheduled to be featured around the country as a traveling exhibit in 2008, chronicles the lives of White House employees, in their own words, from 1800 to the present. Some of the reminiscences are mundane, such as a story about First Lady Sarah Polk's inattention to napkin folding. Others are quite attuned to their era: shortly after the Plessy v. Ferguson decision condoned a system of "separate but equal" treatment, the White House servants' dinner tables were realigned on racial lines rather than job function. There's even a story about the lengths employees went to to meet Lyndon Johnson's shower preferences: according to White House employee Howard Arrington, "He wanted [the jets] to hit all parts of his body with the same force. . .Rex Scouten in the usher's office got in the shower to test it out, and it pinned Rex right to the wall."

But my favorite is a story about Pres. Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower's growing addiction to a new "electronic novelty":

According to [Assistant Chief Usher J.B.] West, Ike and Mamie Eisenhower regularly watched the evening news while having their meals on tray-tables. He notes that Mrs. Eisenhower's enjoyment of As the World Turns "initiated the Television Era in the White House."

The Working White House
Workers at the White House Time Line [first-hand accounts]

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.worldalmanac.com/wablogadmin/mt-tb.cgi/369

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 11, 2007 11:28 AM.

The previous post in this blog was This Day in History: Apr. 11.

The next post in this blog is Cime and Punishment at the Old Bailey.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.