Jimmy Carter alleged the agents at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue “the cement that holds the abode together.” Jackie Kennedy already remarked that a accurate arch conductor was “the best able man in Washington, abutting to the president.” The appulse of the hundreds of men and women who accept served as maids, valets, florists, and chefs to aboriginal families is legendary—and inestimable.
For the workers, the spotlight isn’t the point. Rising at dawn—and sometimes blockage alive until the wee hours to absolute pastries and accord massages—the abode agents cede their claimed lives to serve. Here, their commendations from central the White Abode call baby acts of affection and episodes of humor, anger, and despair—and acknowledge claimed quirks and preferences of presidents and their families from the Kennedy administering to the present day. These aberrant White Abode jobs are well-paid, too.
A Present for Malia Bob Scanlan, the White Abode abettor arch florist from 1998 to 2010, capital the Obamas to accept a appropriate aboriginal Christmas in the White House. He put boxwood Christmas copse on Malia’s chiffonier and on Sasha’s mantel. Back Scanlan went into Malia’s allowance to analysis on the tree, he begin a note: “Florist: I absolutely like my tree. If it’s not too abundant to ask, could I amuse accept lights on it? If not, I understand.” Her accomplishment was a heart. “Now, you acquaint me,” he said to the Flower Shop staff. “How could I not put lights on that tree?”
Pastries for NancyAn adventure with Nancy Reagan still haunts above controlling pastry chef Roland Mesnier. Two canicule afore an April 1982 accompaniment dinner, Mesnier was previewing desserts with the aboriginal lady. Mrs. Reagan alone three options, and Mesnier alternate to the kitchen activity dejected.
“Then the buzz rang, and she asked me to appear aback admiral to see her,” says Mesnier.
She told Mesnier that she had absitively she capital busy amoroso baskets with three amoroso tulips in anniversary one. He would accept to accomplish 15 baskets for the dinner, anniversary of which would booty several hours.
“Mrs. Reagan, this is actual nice and actual beautiful, but I accept alone two canicule larboard until the dinner,” Mesnier told her.
She smiled and agee her arch to the right: “Roland, you accept two canicule and two nights afore the dinner.”
Mesnier dug in and formed day and night. Afterwards the accompaniment dinner, back he knew the aboriginal adult was blessed with the result, he collection home elated. He had met the challenge.
Ronnie in the BuffIvaniz Silva, a maid from 1985 to 2008, spent best of her time in the family’s close atelier on the additional and third floors. Usually things ran like clockwork, with the maids befitting clue of the abode of the admiral and the aboriginal adult so that the agents could go in and assignment afterwards advancing them. But one evening, Silva was in Admiral Reagan’s bedchamber afterwards 5:30 p.m., axis bottomward the bed and closing the curtains. Back she went into the bedroom’s sitting room, “there he was, naked, with affidavit all about him!” she says. She rushed out of the allowance abashed afore the admiral had time to say a word. He charge accept been as afraid as she was.
Later, she anesthetized him in the hallway. Reagan looked at her with a twinkle. “Hey, who was that guy?” he asked. The belief abaft these White Abode Christmas ornaments are a allotment of history.
Flowers for JimmyThe aboriginal ancestors may alive in the White Abode for free, but they’re billed account for added costs such as aliment and dry cleaning. Jimmy Carter capital his flowers on the cheap, alike admitting the aboriginal ancestors doesn’t usually pay for flowers, says Ronn Payne, a White Abode florist from 1973 to 1996. “We had to go out and aces flowers for dinners,” he remembers. Payne and added staffers took acreage trips to Rock Creek Park to aces daffodils and the National Zoo to aggregate wildflowers. “Police would stop us. One guy was arrested,” Payne says. The White Abode intervened to get him released.
Bowling With RichardBefore Watergate, Admiral Nixon was able-bodied admired amid the staff, although best of them accede that he and his ancestors were abundant added academic and annealed than their predecessors. Chef Frank Ruta tells a adventure about the adapted pot washer Frankie Blair, who was a accoutrement in the kitchen. One night, Blair was charwoman up afterwards the aboriginal ancestors had accomplished dinner. Nixon wandered into the kitchen, and somehow they started talking about bowling—Nixon was such an ardent bowler that he had a single-lane bowling alleyway installed in the basement beneath the North Portico. Nixon asked Blair if he would comedy with him, and the two of them bowled until two in the morning. “There may accept been a canteen of Scotch complex as well,” Ruta adds.
After they captivated up, Blair angry to the admiral and said, “There is no way my wife is activity to accept I was out this backward bowling with you.”
“Come with me,” Nixon told him.
The two absolved to the Oval Office, breadth the admiral wrote a agenda answer to Blair’s wife for befitting him out so late.
Flying with the NixonsFormer conductor Nelson Pierce additionally remembers blessed times with the Nixons afore Watergate. Back Pierce begin out that the admiral and his wife were traveling to the Seattle area, breadth he’d been born, he told the aboriginal adult how abundant he absent the aerial mountains of the Northwest. Not continued afterwards that, Mrs. Nixon asked him to accompany them.
“The president’s secretary gave me the flight map,” Pierce recalls, and he advised it carefully, “trying to amount out what I would see, what I would recognize. But the afterpiece we got to Washington, the beneath I was seeing.” Then, aloof as Pierce was accepting his bearings, “all of a sudden, we fabricated a aciculate coffer to the right, and of advance I saw Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, and Mount Rainier … I knew that somebody had asked the pilots to go that way so I could see the mountains.”
Lyndon’s MassagesEvery night, Admiral Lyndon Johnson would get a beating in his active quarters. Back above conductor Nelson Pierce was on night duty, he would delay bench until the Navy arch came to acquaint him the admiral had gone to bed, at which point he was chargeless to leave. Every already in a while, Pierce recalls, the admiral would abatement comatose on the table, and the arch would accept to sit bottomward and delay until Johnson woke up so he could accomplishment the massage.
“It was three, four, sometimes alike bristles in the morning afore we’d leave work,” Pierce says, afterwards a adumbration of acerbity in his voice.
John and the Can OpenerJohn and Jackie Kennedy were hopeless in the kitchen, says Anne Lincoln, the White Abode charwoman at the time. “The admiral admired soup afore he went to bed,” she says. “We had a can opener on the additional floor, [but] I anticipate it took him about eight months to apprentice how to use it.”
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