The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on November 3, 1968 · Page 180
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 180

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 3, 1968
Page 180
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Page 180 article text (OCR)

earth when he flies too high. The first time he announced his candidacy for President in 1960, he neglected to inform her in advance. A collect telegram quickly arrived from her: "Congratulations on your decision. Let me know if I can help." The busy vice president couldn't find time for several months to take his wife to a movie. When they finally went, she pointed to the screen and said: "Look, Hubert, they have color now." I saw Mrs. Humphrey shortly after they had moved out of their modest suburban home into a fashionable apartment. When I asked her reaction, she sighed: "I've lost a home and gained an elevator." Both Mrs. Nixon and Mrs. Humphrey as First Lady, would take a special interest in education. "I'm particularly concerned about education for people of all ages," Muriel explained to parade. "I would work for educational day care centers for children whose mothers must work, expanded adult education programs, better educational opportunity for the mentally and physically retarded, increased vocational training opportunities and more health ' , education facilities." Pat Nixon, remembering her teaching days, is thinking along the same lines. There is the possibility, of course, that neither will wind up in the White House. If George Wallace should win the election, he would be expected to designate his married daughter, Mrs. James Parsons, as his White House hostess. Whoever gets the job will find herself suddenly in the center of the social and political swirl. She will put in four years of delicate and difficult diplomacy. For her service to the nation, she ought to be compensated. She should be voted a separate salary or, at least, a portion of the President's salary should be earmarked for her. In a sense, the taxpayers have no claim on the First Lady as long as they don't pay her. She should be part of the government and subject to its policies. But above all other arguments, she deserves official recognition. family quarters. As often as not, he receives guests in the bedroom while he's still in bed. One who was invited for breakfast, Richard Nixon, was ushered into the bedroom where the President and First Lady were served in bed. Singer Frank Sinatra, invited for a midnight visit, found his hosts in bed. The President, in pajamas and bare feet, took him on a tour of the White House. The public has the idea that the first family lives in stately elegance inside the executive mansion. In fact, every First Lady in modern times has adhered to a rigid household budget. The linens are patched when they wear thin. The servants' white coats are repaired and handed down to the busboys. What sort of First Lady would Pat Nixon or Muriel Humphrey be? Mrs. Nixon would run the White House with computer-like efficiency. A card file index would tell her exactly what dishes should be served to which guests. A rotation calendar would also inform her which gown to wear. "I'm a perfectionist," she explains. She would invariably say the right things. She usually tells interviewers, she admits, "what their readers want to hear." She isn't likely to make a slip that would embarrass her husband. She has no inclination to redecorate the White House. "I sort of like it the way it is," she says. Normal home life Pat will create as normal a home life as possible within the White House. "My first concern," she told parade, "would be to make the White House a home, not a house. I would want it to be a gracious place where we can enjoy our family life as well as carry out our public responsibilities." She would discourage continual political discussions in the family quarters, but she would expect to be consulted by her husband, who listens to her ideas and respects her judgment. Mrs. Humphrey would be more like the unobtrusive but wise Bess Truman. With a quiet, deft remark, Muriel can bring her exuberant husband down to them several times." "But think of history!" "I have," said Mrs. Truman. Lady Bird Johnson is another First Lady who has had a quiet but firm influence on great decisions. She has become the President's balance wheel. "Over-adulation, or the acid bath, of criticism," she has said, "isn't healthy for anyone." When his moods soar or plunge, she gently steadies him. Everyone around the President panicked when a White House aide was arrested on a morals charge in the middle of the 1964 election campaign. LBJ's own first impulse was to disclaim and disown his aide, thus sacrificing him on the altar of political expediency. But Lady Bird put charity ahead of politics. Disregarding the political advisers, she quietly called in the press. "My heart is aching today," she said, "for someone who has reached the point of exhaustion in dedicated service to his country. I know our family and all of his friends pray for his recovery." Each First Lady, of course, has run the White House according to her own tastes. Eleanor Roosevelt was too occupied with world affairs to worry about whether the .curtains matched, which they sometimes did not. Mrs. Truman kept a prim and proper White House. Mamie Eisenhower made it fluffy and feminine. Jacqueline Kennedy sought to restore the mementos of the past. "I would write 50 letters to 50 museum curators," she once said, "if I could bring Andrew Jackson's inkwell home." Yet she wasn't the first with a sense of history. Mrs. Truman rounded up Abraham Lincoln's furniture and restored his old hedroom. Mrs. Eisenhower collected pieces of china that had been used by all the Presidents. The character of the White House, of course, has changed with the occupants. The Roosevelts were boisterous. The Trumans liked to play pranks on one another. The Eisenhowers loved their privacy. The Kennedys, though less exclusive, opened their living quarters only to intimate friends. But President Johnson is apt to invite anyone into the ing scandalous or subversive. After the Trumans moved into the White House, the word was spread on the ladies' gossip circuit that the quiet Bess was a secret tyrant who nagged the President to distraction. Bess, indeed, was an artist at the tug-on-the-coat-sleeve and the under-the-table-kick when Harry was feeling explosive. She had little success, however, in curtailing his salty language. When he used the word "manure" in a speech, a dismayed matron urged Bess to influence the President to use more dignified language. "It has taken me 20 years to get him to say 'manure,' " she retorted. As a measure of how she dominated the President, she wasn't boss enough to prevent the President from calling her "boss," a nickname she disliked. Gossips at work It was widely whispered, too, that Mamie Eisenhower drank to excess. The gossip probably got started because an inner ear condition had upset her equilibrium. This sometimes caused dizziness and uncertain footing. She was, in fact, a moderate drinker. Perhaps it takes a President to appreciate fully the service and sacrifice of a First Lady. Harry Truman, in his forthright manner, best. "Presidents need many, many things," he said. "But brains, ability and a loyal following mean nothing unless by -his side there is an intelligent and understanding wife." Truman described his own wife as "a full partner," whom he consulted before he made such epic decisions as dropping the first atomic bomb and ordering U.S. forces to resist the aggression in Korea. Her quiet, ego-puncturing humor also helped to keep Harry down to earth. There was the time, for example, that he discovered her stuffing old letters into the fireplace. He asked what she was doing. "I'm burning your love letters," she said. "You shouldn't do that," he protested. "Why not?" she asked. "I've read varied life of the First Lady .i -a ir . Ay A mm The President's "lull partner," Mrs. Truman calls at a settlement house. Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Khrushchev: Mrs. Eisenhower displays a precious First Lady must be graciow hostess. plate in her White House collection. Mrs. Roosevelt entertaining soldiers on the grounds ot the White House.

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