Sunday, October 28, 2018

I Was Right - A Dish of Pure Delish!

The Residence:  Inside the Private World of The White House by Kate Anderson Brower  $27.99  309 pages  It's so interesting that I read all afternoon - chores having been done - and through the Dodger game - to finish it.

First of all, the White House is a great deal larger than imagined from photos.  Outsiders only see the top three floors but there are six floors with two mezzanine levels and two belowground floors.
The Ground Floor is home to the main kitchen, the flower shop and the carpenters' shop which got a real workout from some of the first ladies - among their carpentry chores is moving furniture, hanging art works and creating custom picture frames for Presidential gifts.

Resident staff are not forgotten and they have a cafeteria, dining room, lounge and storage areas.  They have their own kitchen, separate from the main kitchen above.  There is a "family kitchen" in the private quarters of the President and First Lady.

And speaking of staff - there are +/- 96 full-time and 250 part time staff.  They are:  ushers, chefs, florists, maids, butlers, doormen, painters, carpenters, electricians, plumbers (one of whom had to spend several days in a mental hospital after five years of trying to get Lyndon Johnson's shower head they way he wanted it - boiling hot with the water pressure of a fire hose) engineers and calligraphers.  Some 24 National Park Service staff take care of the grounds - Jackie Kennedy's rose garden, Michelle Obama's vegetable plot and so on.

As they are humans as the families they serve, staff has an opinion about them.  One woman took a five year leave of absence thanks to Nancy Regan's impossible demands.  Nancy once wanted an elaborate spun sugar dessert of her design for a State dinner.  When the chef said (probably plaintively)" but I have only two days to create X number of them!" and she retorted, coldly, "Yes.  You have six days and six nights," and walked out of the room.

The Bushes - H.W. and Barbara were genuinely loved by staff and vice versa.  One butler was such a favorite that when his presidency was over, they invited him  to visit them at home.

Richard Nixon used to bowl on the two lanes under the White House with kitchen worker Frankie Blair.  Once they finally quit at 2 a.m. and it was believed by staff that a bottle of Scotch might have been involved.

Loyalty is paramount, but all agreed that this can go too far after Doorman Freddie Mayfield put off bypass surgery "until after his trip" (Johnson)  and died of a heart attack, age 58.

I recommend it and I'd say more but now I'm deep in First Women.  Promising - Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush shared a profound dislike - of each other.

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