Sample G41 from Lillian Rogers Parks and Frances S. Leighton, My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House. New York: Fleet Publishing Corp., 1961. Pp. 188-194. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,031 words 40 (2.0%) quotesG41

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Lillian Rogers Parks and Frances S. Leighton, My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House. New York: Fleet Publishing Corp., 1961. Pp. 188-194.

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If she were not at home , Mama would see to it that a fresh white rose was there . Sometimes , Mrs. Coolidge would close herself in the Green Suite on the second floor , and play the piano she had brought to the White House . Mama knew she was playing her son's favorite pieces and feeling close to him , and did not disturb her .

All the rest of the days in the White House would be shadowed by the tragic loss , even though the President tried harder than ever to make his little dry jokes and to tease the people around him .

A little boy came to give the President his personal condolences , and the President gave word that any little boy who wanted to see him was to be shown in . Backstairs , the maids cried a little over that , and the standing invitation was not mentioned to Mrs. Coolidge .

The President was even more generous with the First Lady than he had been before the tragedy . He would bring her boxes of candy and other presents to coax a smile to her lips .

He brought her shawls . Dresses were short in the days of Mrs. Coolidge , and Spanish shawls were thrown over them . He got her dozens of them . One shawl was so tremendous that she could not wear it , so she draped it over the banister on the second floor , and it hung over the stairway . The President used to look at it with a ghost of a smile .

Mrs. Coolidge spent more time in her bedroom among her doll collection . She kept the dolls on the Lincoln bed . At night , when Mama would turn back the covers , she would have to take all the dolls off the bed and place them elsewhere for the night . Mama always felt that the collection symbolized Mrs. Coolidge's wish for a little girl .

Among the dolls was one that meant very much to the First Lady , who would pick it up and look at it often . It had a tiny envelope tied to its wrist . An accompanying sympathetic letter explained that inside the envelope was a name for Mrs. Coolidge's first granddaughter . Mama knew this doll was meant to help Mrs. Coolidge overcome her grief by turning her eyes to the future . The name inside the envelope was `` Cynthia '' .

The Coolidges' life , after the death of their son , was quieter than ever . John was away at school most of the time . Mrs. Coolidge would knit , and the President would sit reading , or playing with the many pets around them .

Now and then , the President would call for `` Little Jack , Master of the Hounds '' , which was his nickname for a messenger who had worked in the White House since Teddy Roosevelt's administration , and discuss the welfare of some one of the animals . It was part of Little Jack's work to look after the dogs .

One White House dog was immortalized in a painting . That was Rob Roy , who posed with Mrs. Coolidge for the portrait by Howard Chandler Christy . To get him to pose , Mrs. Coolidge would feed him candy , so he enjoyed the portrait sessions as well as she did .

I would like to straighten out a misconception about the dress Mrs. Coolidge is wearing in this painting . It is not the same dress as the one on her manikin in the Smithsonian . People think the dress in the picture was lengthened by an artist much later on . This is not true . The dress in the painting is a bright red , with rhinestones forming a spray on the right side . There is a long train flowing from the shoulders .

Mrs. Coolidge gave Mama this dress for me , and I wore it many times . I still have the dress , and I hope to give it to the Smithsonian Institution as a memento , or , as I more fondly hope , to present it to a museum containing articles showing the daily lives of the Presidents -- if I can get it organized .

But to get back to the Coolidge household , Mrs. Coolidge so obviously loved dogs , that the public sent her more dogs -- Calamity Jane , Timmy , and Blackberry . The last two were a red and a black chow . Rob Roy remained boss of all the dogs . He showed them what to do , and taught them how to keep the maids around the White House in a state of terror .

The dogs would run through the halls after him like a burst of bullets , and all the maids would run for cover . Mama didn't know what to do -- whether to tell on Rob Roy or not -- since she had the ear of Mrs. Coolidge more than the other maids . But she was afraid the First Lady would not understand , because Rob Roy was a perfect angel with the First Family .

Every day , when the President took his nap , Rob Roy would stretch out on the window seat near him , like a perfect gentleman , and stare thoughtfully out the window , or he would take a little nap himself . He would not make a sound until the President had wakened and left for the office ; ; then he would bark to let everyone know the coast was clear . His signal was for the other dogs to come running , but it was also the signal for Mama and the other maids to watch out .

Rob Roy was self-appointed to accompany the President to his office every morning . Rob Roy was well aware of the importance of this mission , and he would walk in front of the President , looking neither to the right nor to the left .

At dinner , lunch , or breakfast , the President would call out , `` Supper '' ! ! -- he called all meals supper -- after the butler had announced the meal . All the dogs would dash to get on the elevator with the President and go to the dining room . They would all lie around on the rug during the meal , a very pretty sight as Rob Roy , Prudence , and Calamity Jane were all snow-white .

When Prudence and Blackberry were too young to be trusted in the dining room , they were tied to the radiator with their leashes , and they would cry . Mama tried to talk to them and keep them quiet while she tidied up the sitting room before the First Family returned .

Finally , Mama did mention to Mrs. Coolidge that she felt sorry for the little dogs , and then Mrs. Coolidge decided to leave the radio on for them while she was gone , even though her husband disapproved of the waste of electricity .

Mama was now the first maid to Mrs. Coolidge , because Catherine , the previous first maid , had become ill and died . Mrs. Coolidge chose Mama in her place . It was a high mark for Mama .

Every First Family seems to have one couple upon whom it relies for true friendship . For the Coolidges , it was Mr. and Mrs. Frank W. Stearns of Boston , Massachusetts , owners of a large department store . They seemed to be at the White House half the time . The butlers were amused because when the Stearns were there , the President would say grace at breakfast . If the Stearns were not there , grace would be omitted .

Speaking of breakfast , the President inaugurated a new custom -- that of conducting business at the breakfast table . The word was that this too was part of an economy move on his part . A new bill had been passed under Harding that designated the Government , rather than the President , as the tab-lifter for official meals . So the President would make a hearty breakfast official by inviting Government officials to attend .

He caused a lot of talk when he also chose the breakfast hour to have the barber come in and trim his hair while he ate . Mama said that if Presidents were supposed to be colorful , Mr. Coolidge certainly made a good president . He knew exactly how to be colorful ! !

The favorite guest of the house , as far as the staff was concerned , was Mr. Wrigley , the chewing gum king . The White House had chewing gum until it could chew no more , and every Christmas , Mr. Wrigley sent the President a check for $100 , to be divided among all the help . You can imagine that he got pretty good service .

Another good friend of the Coolidges' was George B. Harvey , who was the Ambassador to Great Britain from 1921 to 1923 . He had been a friend of the Hardings , and continued to be invited by the Coolidges .

The first royalty whom Mama ever waited on in the White House was Queen Marie of Rumania , who came to a State dinner given in her honor on October 21 , 1926 . She was not an overnight guest in the White House , but Mr. Ike Hoover , the chief usher , had Mama check her fur coat when she came in , and take care of her needs . Mama said she was one of the prettiest ladies she had ever seen .

Mama was very patriotic , and one of the duties she was proudest of was repairing the edges of the flag that flew above the White House . Actually , two flags were used at the mansion -- a small one on rainy days , and a big one on bright days . The wool would become frazzled around the edges from blowing in the wind , and Mama would mend it . She would often go up on the roof to see the attendant take down the flag in the evening . She used to tell me , `` When I stand there and look at the flag blowing this way and that way , I have the wonderful , safe feeling that Americans are protected no matter which way the wind blows '' .

Even when Mrs. Coolidge was in mourning for her son , she reached out to help other people in trouble . One person she helped was my brother . Mama had told her how Emmett's lungs had been affected when he was gassed in the war . He was in and out of Mount Alto Hospital for veterans any number of times .

Taking a personal interest , she had the doctor assigned to the White House , Dr. James Coupal , look Emmett over . As a result , he was sent to a hospital in Arizona until his health improved enough for him to come back to Washington to work in the Government service . But again , there was danger that his lungs would suffer in the muggy Washington weather , and he had to return to the dry climate of the West to live and work .

When Mrs. Coolidge was in mourning , she did not wear black . She wore grey every day , and white every evening . Mama knew that she was out of mourning when she finally wore bright colors . The President helped her a lot by selecting some lovely colored dresses to get her started . She opened the boxes with a tear in her eye and a sad smile on her face .

On the social side , the chore Mama had at the formal receptions at the White House thrilled her the most . It was her job to stand at the foot of the stairs , and , just as the First Lady stepped off the last tread , Mama would straighten out her long train before she marched to the Blue Room to greet her guests with the President . Mama would enjoy the sight of the famous guests as much as anyone , and would note a gown here and there to tell me about that night .

One night , Mama came home practically in a state of shock . She had stood at the bottom of the stairs , as usual , when Mrs. Coolidge came down , in the same dress that is now in the Smithsonian , to greet her guests . Mama stooped down to fix the train , but there was no train there ! ! She reached and reached around the dress , but there was nothing there . She looked up and saw that , without knowing it , Mrs. Coolidge was holding it aloft . Mrs. Coolidge looked down , saw Mama's horrified expression and quickly let the whole thing fall to the floor . Mama swirled the train in place , and not a step was lost .

The Coolidges did not always live at the White House during the Presidency .