IN THE PRIVATE FAMILY QUARTERS OF AMERICA's EXECUTIVE MANSION by Alinda Lewris
It is not every day that one's partner is honored at a White House Afternoon Tea, but during the George W. Bush administration, mine was, and although it seems like a dream now I was present when Letitia Baldrige was honored by the First Lady Laura Bush in the private family quarters of America's Executive Mansion.
Letitia Baldrige (Tish) served as social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy and was an integral part of the changes brought to the mansion in that era. We both enjoyed chatting with the White House curators about the recent changes in the early 19th century architecture, furniture, and decorations. It was fascinating to listen to Tish talk about the evolution in diplomatic entertaining from our nation's beginnings in George Washington's and John Adam's day, through the Kennedy era, and on to the present.
Some of the women in Letitia's family were also sipping tea with us on this historic afternoon, plus a few close friends, and the spouses of diplomats, cabinet members, and Supreme Court justices. I particularly enjoyed meeting some of the former White House social secretaries including Bess Abell (Johnson), Lucy Winchester (Nixon), Maria Downs (Ford), Catherine Fenton (George Bush), Ann Stock (Clinton), and Amy Zantzinger (George W. Bush).
To the walls of the incredibly beautiful White House, it must have seemed like just another link in the long chain of history. For me, it was one of the most extraordinary afternoons of my life. ~Alinda Lewris