40 Forever: The White House


Saturday, October 16, 2010

The White House

N.C. Wyeth: George Washington and James Hoban. Smithsonian.
(After all his hard work, George Washington is the only president who didn’t get to live in the White House.)

In honor of the traveling exhibit James Hoban: Architect of the White House that will be at our library through the end of November, we are having lots of events to make the display more meaningful for children. Every week we host at least 2 school field trips to theexhibit, and this Sunday afternoon we are having an old-fashioned White House tea party for elementary school age children. Thanks to a generous donation from the Charles P. Ferro Foundation, next month the wonderful architect Margi Nothard Glavovic will present a building workshop for kids of all ages.

Tea at the Kennedy’s private home in Georgetown, 1960. (Tea parties aren’t just for girls.) AP photo/file.

There are lots of fun facts about White House history. President Taft was so big that he had to have a special bathtub installed. It could fit at least 4 normal-sized men. (Oh my!)

Installing the super-size bathtub in 1911. (It looks like there’s enough room for the 5th guy.) White House Museum

President Truman ordered an immediate renovation when the leg of his daughter’s
piano fell through the ceiling. (Nixon and Truman were both excellent pianists.)

Nixon accompanying Pearl Bailey in the East Room. National Archives.

The Secret Service uses code names for the First Family. Amy Carter’s name was Dynamo, Jackie Kennedy was Lace, and Ronald Reagan was Rawhide. President Obama is Renegade, Michelle Obama is Renaissance, Malia is Radiance, and Sasha is Rosebud. G.W. Bush had two different code names–Tumbler and Trailblazer.

Radiance takes Bo for a run. AP photo/file.

Horses have played a big role in the history of the White House. In addition to lugging building supplies and providing transportation, they have served as wonderful pets. Theodore Roosevelt’s children once sneaked
their pony Algonquin upstairs in the elevator.
President Kennedy, John Jr., Caroline, and Macaroni. JFK Presidential Library.

I have enjoyed researching family life in the White House. Here is where I found most of my information:

Non-fiction books:

Roberts, Cokie. Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. New York: William Morrow, 2004.
Without women, there would be no great presidents.

St, George J, and David Small. So You Want to Be President. New York: Philomel Books, 2000.

This hilarious history book is one of the few non-fiction titles to ever win the Caldecott Medal.

Roosevelt, Curtis. Too Close to the Sun: Growing Up in the Shadow of My Grandparents, Franklin and Eleanor. New York: PublicAffairs, 2008.
See last week’s post.

Fischer, Chuck. White House Pop-Up Book. New York: Rizzoli, 2004.
Kids go ape over this amazing 3-D book by one of my favorite artists, Chuck Fischer.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum: jfklibrary.org
Library of Congress: loc.gov
The White House Historical Association: whitehousehistory.org
The White House: whitehouse.gov

Here are three fun novels about White House kids:
Cabot, Meg. All-American Girl. Paw Prints Press, 2008.
Teen chick lit at its best.
Freeman, Martha. The Case of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dog. New York: Holiday House, 2010
In this story the kids’ mom is the president.
DeVillers, Julia, and Paige Pooler. Liberty Porter, First Daughter. New York: Aladdin, 2009.

Nine year old Liberty Porter wants to the be the best First Daughter ever.

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