Saturday, June 7, 2014

What They Were Doing

What with Memorial Day followed rather abruptly by the big 70th D-Day celebrations, the public's interest is focused on patriotism which is as it should be -- VA scandal and L'Affaire Bergdah anyone?

I reviewed Carl Sferrazza Anthony's book "First Ladies" previously, but I also said I'd get back to it.  We're back.

Anthony very cleverly keeps us abreast of times in the White House by telling us what the former and someday First Ladies were doing at the incumbent's time.  For example: 

World War II   Mamie is the First Lady and Ike is in Europe.  Edith Wilson, Woodrow's widow, joined her at Red Cross events.  Pat Nixon was newly arrived in Washington after urging Richard to become a part of the Office of Price Administration where she also worked.  A lack of servants at Hammersmith Farm meant the Jackie Bouvier had to pick up the slack by gardening, learning housekeeping and doing the cooking for friends.  No more "Cook we'll be 12 at lunch today."

Harry Truman desegregated the Army but Jackie Bouvier resented that her school, Farmington, did not accept blacks or Jews.  Rosalynn Carter was appalled at the difference in schooling in the South  when a young black girl asked her for homework help.  Betty Bloomer (hadn't married Gerald yet) was nicknamed "The Martha Graham of Grand Rapids" and ran a dance group, ignoring any "color line."

I liked this spotlight on a group portrait.  Perspective is all. 

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