Inspiring—Not a Dump

I heard the recent comments attributed to our president in which it was claimed that he referred to the White House as “a dump.” As someone privileged to have visited this historic home twice, I beg to differ.

The first time was during the summer of 1975, which was approximately one year into the presidency of Gerald Ford. I went with my friend Cindy.

When Grandpa learned of the trip, he told me that he had a friend who had some White House affiliation at that time. I cannot remember if the person worked there or just had some inside connection. All I know is that Grandpa said he could get us the special White House tour passes, which were quite different from the easy-to-get public tours available to anyone who got up early enough to obtain a ticket at the booth located on the Ellipse.

Since Grandpa’s request for the tour passes was at the eleventh hour, they could not be mailed to us. I was instructed to go to White House to obtain them.

The night before the tour, Cindy and I went to the side gate, where I explained to the guard that we were there to pick up our tickets. We were told that one of us could go inside to retrieve them. My dad got the tickets, so there was no discussion who would go. Surprisingly, I was permitted to walk up the driveway unescorted.

I arrived at the closed door, my heart pounding with excitement at being at the doorway to this historic building. I recall hesitantly knocking, and then being ushered inside.

“What do you want?” I was asked by a uniformed man at the desk.

“Oh no, I thought. I shouldn’t be here. Am I in trouble?”

Then the guard laughed and told me that I was at the right place. I looked around, hoping that one of President Ford’s attractive sons would appear. I was in awe just being inside “the dump.” I left with his card.

The tour the next day was incredible. Having gone on the tour twenty years later with the three of you, I can confirm that my first tour was much better than the general public tour.

We saw many more rooms, the group was much smaller, and I did not feel at all rushed. I remember lingering in the China Room, and felt honored to be viewing china used at state dinners dating back to George Washington.


As we were guided into each room—identified by color such as the Green Room, Blue Room, and Red Room—I remember feeling honored to be inside, and impressed with the elegance and beauty of each room of the iconic mansion.

Incidentally, the architect of the White House was an Irish man named James Hoban. The very old family Bible which sits on my dresser was owned by a woman named Jemima Hoban. Are we related to the man who designed America’s house? I am still working on that.







Now You Get Nothing!

As we prepare for our influx of out-of-town guests for the big eclipse next month, Dad and I have been thinking about what to feed everyone and what to do with them before and after the big event. My little southern city is allegedly expecting 600,000 visitors to pour into town. I told one of the visitors to my house that she can no longer come because it is rumored that I can rent my house for big bucks. The heck with the friends.

I decided that I want to take it one meal at a time, beginning with the most important meal of the day. This is easy: eggs, fruit, muffins, yogurt, cereal, coffee, tea, and juice. Maybe I will pull out the old waffle maker too.

Cereal is an interesting breakfast-food, which has undergone many changes since I was a kid—before the days of Count Chocula, Honey Nut Cheerios, Franken Berry, and Chocolate Lucky Charms.

When I was a wee one, I remember sitting down to a bowl of Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes, then grabbing the sugar bowl, and sprinkling my morning nourishment with a very generous spoonful of the sweet stuff. Grandma never objected. The best part was drinking the heavily-sweetened milk at the end of the meal.

I also recall sitting down to a bowl of sweetened bananas and milk. The recipe was quite simple:

Slice 1 banana into a bowl

Sprinkle with a generous spoonful or two of sugar

Add milk



I also admit  to enjoying a healthy bowl of Frosted Flakes or Post Alpha-Bit Cereals, but my main morning staple was the self-sugared cereal. This was so much better than Frosted Flakes, since I could add as much sugar as I desired instead of what Post thought was sufficient for a growing child.

Personally, I think that most kids enthusiastically ate their breakfast cereal because of the prizes in each box. I specifically recall the tattoos in my Frosted Flakes and Kool-Aid packages in my Alpha-Bits.

Now you get nothing but the cereal!