Recent comments and an e-mail from Dale L about how comfortable first families might be in the big rooms of the second floor got me wondering. Most presidents have lived in mansions before the WH. Who do you think was the last president not to have any full-time household servants before coming to the WH? Truman, maybe? Clinton and Carter weren’t especially rich, but as governors they must have had cooks and housekeepers. There probably have been very few in total…. Lincoln probably being another. Coolidge, maybe?
Also: Thanks to Logan P for the scans of the Reagan era Residence from Architectural Digest, Dec 81. I’ll be adding those very soon.
I would guess Ford?
I’ve just been reading Margaret Truman’s memoires (sp?)”Souvenir” (McGraw-Hill, 1956) and also her excellent new(ish) book “The President’s House – A First Daughter Shares the History and Secrets of the World’s Most Famous House” (Ballentine Books, 2003). The Trumans brought their housekeeper/cook/and all-around miracle worker, Vietta Garr, with them to Washington.
Ms. Truman is an excellent writer – plain spoken, like her father, but an amazing White House scholar and very funny. She gets into the issue of adapting to life in the White House in both books, but especially “Souvenir”. Check it out!
“plain spoken, like her father”
Does her editor at least take out the swear words?
(Laugh Out Loud!)
Nope, Margaret is a lady to her toes, but if you read these books and give her a bad review, WATCH OUT!
I have read all of the capital murder mystery books that have been written by Margaret Truman, as well as both biographies of her parents. I think she is a good writer and has improved over the years.
The Trumans had a housekeeper? Huh.
Wingnut guesses Ford. Anybody know of any servants the Fords had before coming to the WH? His father was the president of a small paint company, I think. Doesn’t mean they lived in a mansion with servants, of course, but it seems likely that GRF was accustomed to fine living.
That brings us probably to Coolidge?
What I find interesting is that it was so common among “regular” people like the Trumans to have good-sized oil paintings of family members. You can see the Truman’s paintings in a number of the photos.
The Carters had a live in sitter for Amy named Mary Fitzpatrick (now Prince). She lives in Plains, GA and still works for the Carter family and travels with them all over the world. I had the privilege of meeting Mary Prince last summer in Plains. President Carter even dedicated one of his recent books to her.
The Fords had a beloved woman named Clara Powell…Betty Ford dedicates an entire chapter of her autobiography to her titled: “The Other Woman.” I don’t know if she was full-time or part-time, though she would stay at their modest split-level in Alexandria when Congressman and Mrs. Ford traveled. She did not work at the White House but was with them their as an adopted family member on special occasions.
The Clinton’s brought no servants with them, but they certainly were well-staffed at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.