Gary Walters –> Stephen Rochon

President Bush just welcomed Rear Admiral Stephen Rochon to the position of chief usher of the White House, succeeding Gary Walters after 20 years. Here’s to a long and happy retirement to Mr. Walters and best wishes to the admiral and his new deputy, Dennis Freemyer.

Mr. Walters says that he is looking forward to a nice quiet retirement, managing the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and, on weekends and holidays, planning the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Update: The Wikipedia entry for “Gary Walters” is only for the basketball player. Let’s do something about that, eh?

Boatload of tourist snaps

Webshots has provided a boatload of snapshots taken by tourists on the 2006 holiday tours and a few others I’d overlooked before from previous years. There are too many to list here (see What’s New), but one is the first “real” pic of the East Wing Lobby!

They may be spelling-challenged, photography-challenged, and memory-challenged, but these tourists are precious to me. In the spirit of the Reathel Odum Distinguished Service Award (and tonight’s Oscars), I award Haleychura, Amber, Cdhopk, Spificwoman13, Sspin55, and all the others the Dan Quayle A for Effort Award.

Update: More touristy goodness!

Oval Office

Visitor Dennis pointed out that the picture of Ike in the Oval Office had to be wrong, because the fireplace wasn’t historically correct. I realized that I didn’t have a good picture of the Oval Office fireplace anywhere, but I found a nice one on the Truman Library site.

Update: The paneling is like the paneling in the family residence, not the OO, but the mantel is still a mystery. Perhaps this is actually a location in Ike’s library or home that happens to resemble the WH.

Grab bag and a puzzle

Dropped a few new photos in of various areas, including an intriguing one of the Roosevelt Room. The new one shows the ceiling very well with what appears to be a skylight. My (well, Pete’s) floor plan of the second floor does not show a skylight well, so I wonder if it’s really just a flourescent fixture, but Pete pointed out that there is a roof pylon in the right place that presumably is a skylight.

Press Briefing Room

Wingnut points out that a Politico article on Helen Thomas mentions that the Press Briefing Room won’t be ready until May or June, meaning that the room will have been out of commission for 10 or 11 months. We saw in Barney’s holiday video that the room was no where near done in December, so that seems accurate, but the long timeline is a stumper. Aside from the possibility that the administration has an ulterior political motive for keeping the press out of the WH, what could be the delay? Charles McKim restored the whole mansion in the same time frame.

My guess: they’re building in additional facilities of some sort underground.