Welcome to The White House! Let Me Get The Door!
It’s one of the most recognized houses int he world – and home to the President and First Lady fo the United States…but it’s much more than that – it’s also where hundred of employees work, in some cases for their entire professional careers, just taking care of the first family!
My Wife had the chance to meet that staff last week when she and Host Kelly Clarkson took their talk show to the shite House for a candid conversation with the First Lady!
More on that in a moment but first, my “Wednesday Bookmobile” has a terrific look at the fascinating world inside the “private” quarters of The White House:
“The Residence” by Author Kate Andersen Brower is a fascinating, intimate look at the service staff who work at the White House – exclusively for the President.
“The Residence” shows the daily life inside the White House as it is really lived: through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family.
The personal White House staff maintains the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners.
It’s a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week life when you must adapt to the world of politics and the Presidency.
The book is beautifully written, funny and somber in equal measure – as it tells the story of those who have worked for everyone from The Kennedys to The Obamas…some there for more than 40+ years.
By the way, did you know that the first family has to pay for their own food?
That’s one of the fascinating bits of trivia I learned. While official state dinners and visits are covered, all of the first family’s food is otherwise charged to them!
This led to the hilarious comment from Jackie Kennedy to the kitchen staff:
“Treat us like we are the ‘chinciest’ President ever”, she’d say before adding coyly, “you know, we don’t have nearly as much money as everyone says we do!”
The book also notes that JFK himself would go into the kitchen to complain about how much milk was being purchased!
“What’s In That Bag?”
There are also fascinating stories about White House Guests who would slyly slip knives, spoons or forks into their bags or jackets, and how the staff must find a nice way to note that it’s missing.
“Oh, maybe it fell to the floor” the Servers would offer coyly.
Usually, the person would sheepishly “find” the pocketed item and give up their valued souvenir!
By the way, if you wonder: my wife went to The White House to meet First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and when she arrived at her Hotel, a White Chocolate White House was there on an official White House napkin for her!
Back to the book, which is filled with fascinating behind-the-scenes moments from the past 60+ years!
For example, did you know that President Lyndon Johnson LOVED a good hot shower?
A President’s Water Pressure Obsession!
That’s right: President Johnson was OBSESSED with taking VERY HOT showers – which led to years – yes, YEARS of effort by the White House plumbing staff to supply him with more water pressure!
As he screamed at them one day in frustration:
“If I can move ten thousand troops in a day, you can certainly fix the bathroom anyway I want it!”
Those words from President Johnson leads to one of the most hilarious anecdotes in the book.
“For years, the White House Plumbers struggled to give the President a shower that was hot enough – and had enough water pressure. Everything from shower heads to new pipes – nothing was good enough for LBJ.
One day, he was ready to test their latest effort, and asked the Plumber to come into the bathroom – WHERE THE PRESIDENT STOOD NAKED.
“OK, give it your best shot,” Johnson said as he jumped in. The shower was turned on and the President yelled out in pain, because the pressure was so intense.
“Whoa! What are you doing to me?” he scream, then a moment later screamed again, this time in ecstasy.
“Wait, this feels good Whoa!” It blasted him against the wall and he came out beet red!”
Every page is filled with fascinating details about life inside the private quarters of the White House – including lots of inside stories of The Regans, Carters, Bushes, Obamas and Clintons. The book was released at the end of the Obama Presidency, so nothing about Trump is in it.
Reviews were stellar when it was released:
“Beautifully written, The Residence offers a unique and compelling view of what really happens inside the very private White House. An absolute must-read!” — Norah O’Donnell, co-host, CBS News Host and former Chief White House Correspondent for CBS
“This intimate portrait of what it’s like to take care of the first family is a compelling read. Whether you’re a political or history junkie or devoted Downton Abbey viewer, this book adds unique context to understanding our presidents as human beings.” — Chuck Todd, moderator, Meet the Press
Did you know that when Elvis visited President Nixon in the Oval Office, he tried to take a gun to his meeting?
So many great stories, and a valuable history lesson as well…my wife has been inside the White House twice: she took her Host Steve Harvey inside for an interview with President Obama, and just last week, she and Host Kelly Clarkson nabbed the exclusive first interview with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden:
It’s a candid, open and fascinating conversation from The East Room of the White House – and Kelly and Dr. Biden also take the “first dogs” for a walk outside as well!
Here’s the promo:
This terrific, candid and insightful conversation premieres Thursday, July 25th on “The Kelly Clarkson Show”!
Click here for more details – and information of where you can see the show in your city!
I have posted many stories about the White House and The Presidency:
It’s the world’s most exclusive “rental property”, and if you click here you can read about some of the more outrageous occupants:
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Make sure to check out this fantastic book – and don’t forget: The First Lady Of The United States is joined inside The White House by Kelly Clarkson – the show airs Thursday!