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Tag: White House

The 1941 Christmas Tree: A Bright Light in Dark Times

 

The Roosevelts had planned for a “more homey” lighting of the National Christmas tree on December 24 in 1941. FDR had directed that the tree be moved from the Ellipse to the White House grounds, just next to the South Lawn Fountain.  But after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, there was some doubt that the ceremony would take place at all. With firm backing from the President, the tree-lighting went forward, and thousands came to the White House to share a bright moment of hope during dark and uncertain times.

Plans for this “more homey” event had been set in motion the previous December. A few days before the ceremony, the Roosevelts had an idea. At the 1940 tree-lighting ceremony, FDR raised the issue to the crowds gathered on the Ellipse, “Next year the celebration must take place on the South End of the White House, where all can see the tree,” and “all you good people” would be invited to the gardens of the Executive Mansion to hear the President deliver his message.

A few months later, FDR wrote a memo to Col. Edward Starling,  the head of the Secret Service detail: “I was not fooling and I think the proper place for the tree is right next to the fence at the south end of the White House … [ Read all ]

A White House Thanksgiving

This is what President Harry Truman had for Thanksgiving in 1947. (Click to enlarge.) What dishes are going on your table this year?

My favorite holiday is Thankgiving. No dispute.

After all, it’s a holiday that basically crafted entirely around the consumption of turkey. I’m not entirely sure that this is what Lincoln had in mind when he established Thanksgiving in 1863, but hey, it’s not called “Turkey Day” without reason.

But given that some people may want to give thanks without the hassle of cooking a turkey, we’ve selected a few recipes from our Presidential Libraries that would taste delicious with or without the traditional roasted bird. Many of these recipes could be served year-round: at picnics, for Sunday suppers, for potlucks, for anniversaries. After all, giving thanks and sharing meals with loved ones doesn’t come just once a year.

For starters:

George and Laura Bush’s Deviled Eggs

12 large eggs, boiled hard and peeled
1 tablespoon (plus) soft butter
1 tablespoon (plus) mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Yucatan Sunshine Habanero sauce
Salt to taste

Cut eggs in half and set aside. Put egg yolks in food processor and add all ingredients. Process for 20 seconds or until mixture has blended. Check for taste and increase mustard, salt or Habanero sauce if desired.  Place mixture in piping bag with star tip and pipe into egg halves. Sprinkle with … [ Read all ]

Football Friday: Presidents and the Pigskin

With Super Bowl Sunday just two days away, we’ve decided to call an audible and make today’s “Facial Hair Friday” into a “Football Friday.”

When the New England Patriots and New York Giants collide in this year’s Super Bowl, the two teams will be competing for more than just a National Football League championship. The winner will also receive a trip to the White House, a place that many gridiron greats have called home.

Football has a rich history at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Eisenhower was a standout halfback at West Point. Similarly, President Ford was a star at the University of Michigan, ultimately earning contract offers from the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. As for President Reagan, he earned the nickname “the Gipper” after staring as Notre Dame’s George Gipp in the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American.

Several Presidents have also remained loyal fans even after their playing days.

President Kennedy, who went out for the team at Harvard, once called legendary coach Vince Lombardi to ask if he would “come back to Army and coach again.” President Nixon, who played for Whittier College, was known for sending diagrammed plays to the Washington Redskins coaching staff during his Presidency.

Reagan had popcorn (instead of Gatorade) dumped on him by the triumphant Giants during their visit to the White House in 1987. And most recently, President … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Two names and almost two beards

Today’s featured facial hair is a fan find! Thank you to Paul H. for alerting us to this wonderful forked beard.

In fact, this beard really looks like there’s enough hair to be two beards. Perhaps Colonel Strother had a beard for each of his names?

Before his stint in the Army during the Civil War, David Hunter Strother had toured Europe to study art and was a successful magazine illustrator and writer. He published his artwork under the delightful nom-de-plume of “Porte Crayon.”

When the Civil War began, his artistic talents meant he was assigned as a topographer in the Army, but by 1864, Colonel Strother was chief of staff to his cousin Gen. David Hunter. He was involved in the shelling of the Virginia Military Institute and later promoted to colonel of the Third West Virginia Cavalry.

He wrote about his wartime experiences for Harper’s Monthly as “Personal Recollections of the War.”

After the war, he continued to work as an artist until 1879, when he was appointed by President Hayes as General Consul to Mexico City, a post he held for the next six years.

In 1940, the “Porte Crayon Memorial Society” lobbied to have a mountain in  Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia named after Strother.  Mount Porte Crayon is not for casual day hikers, however. It’s far from any trailhead or road, and extreme … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Elvis has NOT left the building

Are these the most famous sideburns in music history? They might be the most famous sideburns in the National Archives.

If you are a fan of Elvis, you’ve seen the photograph: Nixon and Elvis shaking hands in the White House. This is the most-requested image in our holdings. The quirky story behind the meeting of the King of Rock and Roll and the President of the United States is featured in this online exhibit.

But it’s not the only record we have of Elvis.

In December of 1957, Elvis was drafted for the U.S. Army. This career change was an upsetting event for fans. The Eisenhower Library has a letter from three girls in Montana who despaired over a possible shaving of  the singer’s sideburns: “You don’t no how we feel about him, I really don’t see why you have to send him in the Army at all, but we beg you please please don’t give him a G.I. hair cut, oh please please don’t!  If you do we will just about die!”

But their letter writing was in vain. On March 24, 1958, Presley signed his acknowledgement of service obligation and entered the Army. (Alas, his sideburns did not.)

Since Elvis served in the military, his file is part of the permanant holdings of the National Personnel Records Center. Elvis was no ordinary soldier—his fame meant that … [ Read all ]