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    Anecdotal Observations On History & Politics

    Entries in White House (5)


    Q&A: SNL's Cecily Strong, Host of WHCD

    A conversation with SNL's Cecily Strong, host of the 2016 White House Correspondent's Dinner. 

    Part 1: Cecily Strong talks about being selected to host the WHCD, reacts to Hillary Clinton's campaign and describes herself as Queen of 'Nerd Prom'.

    Part 2: Cecily Strong dishes on the field of 2016 hopefuls and describes voting in her first presidential election.

    Part 3: Cecily Strong on her favorite SNL president, her namesake and her favorite TV show. 


    Calvin Coolidge's Pet Raccoon, Rebecca

    Yes, the Coolidges had a pet raccoon living with them in the White House.  Rebecca, as she was named, was delivered as a gift to the first family in 1927 and was intended to be served as Thanksgiving dinner. But the Coolidge's "pardoned" the animal and Rebecca became a hit with the White House press corps, who reported on her regularly. Rebecca even hosted the White House Egg roll with first lady Grace Coolidge...


    White House "Downton Abbey" Mash-Up 

    In time for the US season finale: a title sequence mash-up showcasing the White House as the opening of Downton Abbey. As featured on The Chris Matthews Show, February 17th, 2013.



    FDR and the Legacy of the White House Pool 

    Few Americans in the 30's and 40's knew that President Franklin Roosevelt, who suffered from polio, was a paraplegic who was unable to walk without assistance during his administration. They knew he was handicapped, but he was never shown in his wheelchair and he always projected a robust image of himself. 

    The reality of his condition was much more grievous, both physically and mentally -- his battle with polio was brilliantly depicted by Kenneth Branagh in the HBO film "Warm Springs", viewable below:

    A pool was installed in the White House in 1933 to allow the President to exercise regularly. Housed between the White House and the West Wing, the room had french doors which opened to the rose garden. Below are photos and a rare article detailing FDR's workout routine projecting him as being in prime physical shape and as an avid swimmer. 

    Subsequent presidents also used the pool, Harry Truman swam laps while wearing his eyeglasses, but JFK got more use of it than any other -- he even remodeled the room, putting up a mural of a tropical paradise along the walls, painted by Bernard LaMotte:

    Aside from swimming nearly every day at noon, author Seymour Hersh asserted that the pool was allegedly a convenient place for skinny dipping and sexual escapades with numerous women, including Marilyn Monroe. One such event that Hersh detailed was an incident when First Lady Jackie Kennedy was en route back to the White House. Her pending arrival went unannounced causing the secret service to scramble into the pool room to evacuate the President, and his guests. Upon exiting with little time to spare, JFK is said to have handed off his bloody mary to the agent, merely saying "here, take this."

    Similar claims were corrobarated by former White House intern, Mimi Alford Beardsley, in her book "Once Upon A Secret".

    Lyndon Johnson used the pool following Kennedy:

    Motivated by his distain for Kennedy, Richard Nixon paved over the pool in 1970 to create a press room in the space, which remains to this day.

    Upon taking office, Gerald Ford had an outdoor swimming pool installed, which he showed to members of the press in 1975:

    Here, Ford's daughter Susan helps her father take a dive:

    More on the outdoor pool here.