Visitors arriving to see the President, Vice President or White House staff come through the West Wing Reception Room. President Nixon had the area renovated during his administration to reflect a more intimate and welcoming setting. The mahogany cabinet is one of the oldest furniture pieces in the White House collection, dating back to 1770.
On Wednesday, President Obama will be joined by former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington. The event tomorrow, the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action, is open to the public beginning at 9:00 a.m. for an 11:00 a.m. program. At 3 p.m. EDT, President Obama and former presidents Clinton and Carter will ring bells at the exact time Dr. King delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech 50 years ago.
President Obama is touring parts of New York and Pennsylvania by bus today and tomorrow to talk about his plan to promote college affordability. His first stop is the University of Buffalo, then on to a high school in Syracuse and tomorrow he will travel to Binghamton, New York with a final stop in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Today (August 18) is the birthday of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. She counts 86 candles on her cake today. Some things you may not know about her: Her first name is Eleanor. Her father died when she was 13. One of her best friends in high school was Jimmy Carter's sister. The first time Jimmy Carter proposed marriage to her she turned him down.
(At left: Official White House portrait of First Lady Rosalynn Carter)
In this video the White House answers questions from the mailbag about what happens in the White House on a daily basis. A sample of some of the questions asked and answered: Does the President still uses a smart phone or a tablet?; What is a typical day like at the White House? What happens to the honey produced by the White House beehive?
Opening in movie theaters this week (August 16) is a film "The Butler", starring Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker, about a man named Eugene Allen. Who was Eugene Allen? He was an African American, employed by the White House as a butler for over 34 years, who worked for eight presidents from Truman through Reagan. The film is based on an article by Washington Post report Will Heygood and also a book by the same author entitled "The Butler: A Witness to History".
This week President Obama and his family are vacationing on Martha's Vineyard. Every president finds a way to get away from Washington for some period of time. Those presidents with second homes often spent time there including Presidents Reagan, Johnson and Bush who spent time on their ranches. President Lincoln stayed a total of 13 months, beginning with his second year in office, in a cottage on the grounds of the Soldier's Home outside Washington. President Cleveland even bought a house in Washington in an area which eventually became known as Cleveland Park and only returned to the White House for brief periods. President Clinton opted to rent vacation properties when he wanted to get away from it all during his time in office and President Obama has done the same. Who foots the bill when a president goes on vacation? The president and first family are required to pay for their vacations. However, they are entitled to use military aircraft and if the president is on board to use Air Force One. Costs for travel on Air Force One and security and Secret Service for the president and first family are paid for by taxpayers but the charges are not disclosed to ensure security plans are not revealed.
This week (August 4-10) is National Farmers Market Week. When President Thomas Jefferson occupied the White House he would ask foreign consuls to bring back rare seeds and he would distribute them to the market gardeners in the nation's capital. He would also include with the seeds instructions for the proper cultivating and management of the seeds. He also charted the earliest appearances in the spring of 29 vegetables on the Washington market.
And now in First Lady Michelle Obama's Kitchen Garden there is a special garden plot devoted to the heirloom vegetable seeds transported from Thomas Jefferson's garden at his home in Monticello.
Photo on the right: First Lady's Kitchen Garden
Photo below: Thomas Jefferson's garden plot in First Lady's Kitchen Garden