Bear chair

I stumbled across a page with some information about the fantastic grizzly bear chair that Andrew Johnson had in the his library (the Yellow Oval Room).

Made from two grizzly bears captured by Seth [Kinman]. The four legs and claws were those of a huge grizzly and the back and sides ornamented with immense claws. The seat was soft and exceedingly comfortable, but the great feature of the chair was that, by touching a cord, the head of the monster grizzly bear with jaws extended, would dart out in front from under the seat, snapping and gnashing its teeth as natural as life. This chair Seth presented to [President] Johnson, September 8, 1865.

Yes, the head would dart out from underneath… natural as life….

White House audio

I’ve been visiting LibriVox lately, first as someone interested in free audio books and then as someone interested in recording audio books for free. As one of my first contributions, I recorded a very short 1962 sci-fi story that takes the form of teletype messages between the WH and “Pacific Space Command.” The collection isn’t done yet, but my part is available. (Don’t worry, I didn’t try to emulate JFK’s accent for the WH end of the communications.)

Of course, everything recorded must be public domain, but so far all I’ve found that interests me in terms of WH material is TR’s letters to his children. I suppose most presidential speeches are public domain, but can anyone think of something more closely related to the White House? Ike Hoover’s memoirs would be fun, but I don’t think they’ve fallen out of copyright (everything before 1923 is PD and anything until that wasn’t renewed after 28 years is PD; more recent stuff has different protection).

UPDATE: After another quick search, I think I might do Herbert Hoover’s wildly-optimistic 1929 State of the Union address, altho it’s rather long (they got much shorter later on).

The White House is missing! Ogling Dana Perino seems to be giving me a 404 – File Not Found error today…. Wait, spoke too soon. I guess I caught them in the middle of a change.

Anyway, the Prime Minister of Japan visited the other day. It’s amazing how they sneak these guys in and out. It’s like you’ve got to watch the news to catch it or something. Maybe I get more of my news from The Daily Show than I’d like to admit.

On a side note, there still is no new WH video for the renovated Press Briefing Room, and we’re two press secretaries behind now. Nor do we have any new pictures of the press secretary’s office, even just during a press gaggle.

Cheese it! The fuzz!

The president has been posing with groups again. One is of a delegation of state police in full uniform. I find it interesting in this great union of states how the uniforms of state troopers vary so widely, with inspiration that seems to come from Canadian mounties, the US Army, forest rangers, Old West sheriffs, and beat cops from the 1940s. None of them seem interested in those pointy helmets the British bobbies wear, tho….

And who’s for changing the draperies in the State Dining Room? The current ones are so busy they seem to have three small children and a second job.

Woody’s Lair

I’d seen this 1920 photo of the Wilsons previously, but hadn’t been able to place it. The mantel looks most like the president’s study in today’s Treaty Room, but the desk would need to be facing the window, which is backwards from what is shown in a slightly earlier picture. It’s not flopped, or their wedding rings would be on wrong and the window light would be at his back. Perhaps the photographer coaxed them into moving the desk to the other side of the room to take best advantage of the light.

Any other guesses?

Oval Office

Stumbled across this piece on the Clinton redecoration of the Oval Office. Among other things, it mentions the cost of rug: $28,500.

UPDATE: Got the link working. Blogger has been keeping me from posting at all and still isn’t working right. I can’t get it to insert the picture directly….

White House budget

Several days ago, visitor John M wrote:

In the Kennedy’s time the appropriation for an incoming First Family’s redecoration was $50,000. What is it now and what are they entitled to change without a governing groups approval? Does this amount include changes in the Oval Office?

I tried doing some research and didn’t get very far. I know the WH budget is about $8 million these days, but I think that’s the operating budget and may not include redecoration and repairs.