tv Daughters Remember Life in the White House CSPAN May 10, 2015 2:30pm-4:18pm EDT
a site of her grandparents all too in glimpsed by the general public in the dark years of the depression. hoover now not long before he died, former president hoover was asked by a friend how he managed to survive a period of ostracism that coincided with fdr's new deal. to which he replied, i outlived the bastards. [laughter] it was not quite that simple. he had at his side a strong family, including a granddaughter who attended stanford university, and the new england conservatory of music. the mother of four children, mrs. richard t brigham lives in pennsylvania. [laughter] no historian is accurate all the time.
where for many years she raised thouroghbred horses and where she and her husband remain active in civic causes. you heard something of luci baines johnson, of her sensitivity and her sense of history. unlike peggy, luci was a young woman when she entered the white house in november, 1963. she wanted nothing more than to be a normal teenager. life in the white house is many things but normal it is not. luci's mother said as much when she gave her daughter the following advice, "don't ever do anything you do not want printed on the front page of the paper." this would strike terror in the hearts of most teenage girls
but luci rose to the occasion, no more impressively than at the time of her wedding. according to one newswoman nobody was invited except the immediate country. and notwithstanding, a press controversy over a non-union bridal gown, the day went off gloriously. soon after, luci left the white house for texas in what she has described as a normalcy that never quite materialized for me as it does not for any member of a famous family. she has devoted herself to many of the causes identified with her public spirited parents. she has been a supporter of educational and health programs as well as public television youth services, and her mother's national wildflower center. she is also a businesswoman who chairs the lbj holding company. along the way, she has found time to mother five children including the infant rebecca whom richard nixon welcomed into the world 20 years ago this summer.
like luci johnson, suzie ford never expected to live in the white house. she was asked to serve as hostess at a white tie affair following her mother's surgery. there she was at 17, the youngest hostess since ellis roosevelt at the turn-of-the-century wearing uncomfortable white gloves and standing in an endless receiving line before taking to the dance floor with a group of distinguished if not nimble footed diplomats. when her father first became vice president, susan's mother told her she and her brothers could no longer wear blue jeans. that is not fair, the reply. we are just kids. on the day they moved into the white house, susan and her brother surprise reporters by appearing in blue jeans. what else would you wear on moving day? anything else would be silly and artificial. there is nothing silly and artificial about susan ford bales.
while in the white house, she worked as a photographer. later becoming a frequent guest on television. in recent years, she has taken up her mother's crusade to educate women about the dangers of breast cancer and the importance of early detection. in yes, she still occasionally wears blue jeans. maureen reagan was an adult when her father became president. yet her lifelong interest in politics would make her at least a part-time resident of 1600 pennsylvania avenue for much of the reagan presidency. in at least one crucial respect, she anticipated her famous father. to this day, she likes to tease him by reminding him that she was a republican before he was. as such, she has been a tireless campaigner. so much so that president reagan himself had referred to her as the real politician in the family. during the reagan administration, she served as this country's representative to the u.n. commission on the status of women. she was also cochair of the
republican national committee. like her father, she has never shied away from controversy or cut her fuse to fit the political fashion. this includes publicly disagreeing with her father and her party over the equal rights amendment and being both persistent and persuasive in advocating more women in public positions. maureen is the author of a well-regarded memoir "first father, first daughter." she remains highly visible at the radio and television commentator. please welcome our distinguished panel. [applause] war for weapons warming quite simple. we're going to interfere in to speak to you about their own experiences.
then, when we are done we will open it up for questions and interaction among the panelists. the stage is yours. ms. johnson: i am supposed to turn this on. it is on, isn't it? indifference to my aging back, i said i could not stand up at the podium for 15 minutes, so we are all going to sit. [laughter] i was not quite sure, and richard has never told me when he said i have four children, i wondered which one you left out. [laughter] he was the executive director of the hoover library, and as such i have been to australia within, in the outback. this is such a slight regression, but i want to get back at him.
[laughter] we flew to lisbon, australia and it was a 14 hour trip. we arrived all worn out. it is a long trip. richard went out and jobs 25 miles. -- jogged 25 miles. back to the white house. i think i crossed the united states 12 times by tr ain in those years. during her early training in girl scouts, and the out-of-doors, she had distanced reaching call.
it is started way down the platform. my brother hated it, it embarrassed him. [laughter] my grandmother was born in iowa, just like my grandfather, in the same year, 1874. the older of two girls, charles and florence mchenry. she was about 11, florence is help was such that she had asthma but they moved to california. after a little bit they went to monterrey and made their home in monterrey. it was lucky for my great-grandfather that he had a tomboy for an older daughter,
because they would take off into the crs or the coast range or wherever exploring, she was a tomboy. there is a lovely picture of her sitting astride a mule which was 17. -- when she was 17. she had a rifle like this. she had a very puckish sense of humor, and she was quite the outlet ♪ athlete. california meant a great deal to her. she went to san jose in norman school and got her teaching certificate, and she went to a speech by dr. brenner of stanford. he was talking about mining engineering. she thought that is what i want, and it has everything in the
outdoors that i love. she went to dr. brenner and said do you think a woman can take this course? he said why not? so she was the first woman to receive a mining engineering degree ever. she was a lab assistant with my grandfather, that is how they met. after graduation he went to australia to work for a british mining company. a couple of days later, she had graduated from stanford, and when she received a cable asking her to marry him but he has been engaged by the chinese government go to china. when she marry him?
>>she wired back yes. he arrived in monterrey one day, they were married the next day, and they took off together on a slow boat to china. that is how they started their lives. [laughter] she has a remarkable ability to hear and understand languages. she picked up mandarin chinese and not the speaking of it, but also the calligraphy of it. she handled her whole household in chinese at that time. that is when the boxer rebellion took over and they had to leave but it was a very exciting time for a young bride. i know there are lots of tales of her being oblivious to gunfire and etc.. but when i want to get onto is
they went all around the world. he would have mining opportunities in places like burma, australian outback the home office was in london, so book my father and my uncle were born in london. she had a very remarkable capability, you could not take a whole lot of your belongings with you to set up a household, so she chose a few things that would make it seem like home. that would be unity cap -- in any camp. that would be home.
i think of always in the back of her mind, where she really wanted to make home was california. when they finally had the opportunity, and she designed the house as they built on the hill. i can remember going there as a child, and i remember that much more than the white house. i could tell you also do things for the white house, but i think these girls have more present things to tell you about life in the white house. but it was to get across to you the fact that no matter where she went, whether he was in england, or whenever she undertook, she was making her way until she can come back to
california. excuse me. one of the main things growing up that she did was that the girl scouts quickly latched onto onto her and she became a prime force in the girl scouts. she was a national president several times. she thought the training opportunity that one could have in the girl scouts would prepare a young woman for the best use of her life. talking too much. she was not a person who polarized situations. she was a person who said, how can i fit in to make this work the best? that is how she managed to fit in places like that. how can i make the best of where i am?
her life with the girl scouts -- there was a lot of values. i was not privileged to be a member of the girl scouts because there is no troop where i live. her early training was very formidable. she had a great deal of presence , her nickname was the lady. not ladybird, but the lady. you had the chief and the lady. i will turn it over to you in a minute. [coughing] thank you. give me a drink of water. thank you. not at this time of day.
[laughter] i'm not lemonade lucy. my grandfather was in the white house at the time of prohibition so we have to watch this. [laughter] [applause] while i wait for the water, i will drop back just a bit. about six weeks ago, i was in with sprint, the west branch iowa celebrating the 120th anniversary of my grandmother's birth. if you do not think that made me feel old, and i had a daughter a son, and a grandson there also. i thought, oh my goodness, i'm a bridge. i'm a bridge between the 20th century which was almost 100 years ago and my children and my grandchildren. i have three grandchildren and that's about all i want to get
after all these five children. [laughter] so what i did then was that i thought was supposed to talk mostly about my grandmother not my life in the white house. she was remarkable. she had a remarkable sense of humor. she was very athletic. when i was 11 years old, she was 68 and took me on a packing trip behind yosemite. we had a marvelous time and there's a marvelous picture of her sitting on a horse. she had a big grin. she was just happy as a clam and i want to get back to why she loved california so.
it was the epitome of heaven as far she was concerned. she built the house on the hill at stanford and could look out across the santa clara valley. the architecture was very unusual. it was very hopi indian. it has levels that go like this. it was adobe style. a little stairway that could take you up and you can get up to the very top and just see everywhere. from 1933 to 1943, and at that point, my grandfather's activities were required as being in new york city. he thought that was a place where he could meet with people he loved. he had to have people around him all the time. she finally agreed to move back permanently with him.
and they gave the house on the hill to stanford to be used as the presidents house. she moved back in 1943. she passed away in february of 1944. i do not think the canyons of new york city were quite the same as ours down here. later on, i will let you ask me questions so i can give you a little bit of an idea of what she was like. [applause] and i did that without notes. [laughter] they've got their notes. [no audio] maureen: is the mike not on?
ms. johnson: i'm an old radio him, and i understand these things are ms. reagan: i'm getting properly educated. that is what life in the white house is -- continuing education. as i watched with recollections, it seems like yesterday that tricia nixon-cox was graciously hugging me and ringing in my ears, do not worry. we will invite you back. [laughter] luci: the scene was january 20 1969. that was the day president nixon was inaugurated. my family left the residence of the white house for the last time. my mother had always referred to
the white house as the ultimate in public housing. we never thought of ourselves as any other way except tenants. nevertheless, this chapter of our lives was over. it left me with a flood of emotions and felt tears welling up in my eyes. tears that gracious tricia noticed. there's a bond that unites the residence of the white house. regardless of age, gender, and politics, it is a bond of shared experience. of having been there. it is that bond that has brought me here today to share with you what life was like for me during those five years of my father's presidency. where did it all begin? everyone who remembers november 22, 1963 remembers know exactly where they were and what they were doing when president kennedy was shot. what was exceptional about my situation was how it impacted my life on all fronts and forever.
i was a junior in high school, a 16-year-old student at national cathedral school for girls. a fellow student came out and announced that president kennedy had been shot. his words were like a blow to my chest. the bells of the national cathedral began to grow, a sound that was forever known in my memory. several hundred girls rose without a word and march double file toward the gym that served as our chapel. we marched and then we knelt. this command by an unspoken power that consumed us all. somehow, everyone knew instinctively that tragedy had struck. and we all had to dismiss our adolescence and self consumed focus.
our headmistress announced the unspeakable that president kennedy and governor conley had both been shot. that thereir condition was unknown. what was known was that they needed our prayers. we prayed. then we were dismissed. to this day, i did not know what others did except that i wandered out into a daze into the courtyard. i have no recollection of whether any friends stayed with me. all i recall was being very much alone and very scared. i never had known violence personally before. the on devastated and paralyzed me. what was president kennedy's fate and governor conley's fate? no one had mentioned my father. i knew he was with them. what happened to daddy? president kennedy was also the president, but my father's boss and friend. governor conley was much more to me. he had been my family's close friend my entire life.
we have lived and worked in the same house. we had lived together and work together and pray together. where were my parents? i heard footsteps and a voice yelling, a man on campus who was in a handyman is a mess. i left up and realized it was my father's secret service agent. i knew then what fate have rendered. i tried to run the other way. the childish act could some how reverse the event. he yelled at me to come back and i did. i will always be grateful to the secret service for the sensitivity they showed in sending someone that i knew. i buried my head in gene's arms. he confirmed the unspeakable. president kennedy was dead. uncle johnny went through
surgery and was expected to live. daddy would soon be back on his way to washington. we went to the headmistress's office and we were told that he needed to take me home. i was desperate to do something i thought i would do something that was useful. when someone died, we would take a casserole. i knew that would not be this sort of situation. [laughter] i could not abide the limbo that i was in. if i kept a vigil at the television, i was somehow serving some sort of dutiful role. on another part of me felt like i needed to do something. it didn't matter what, just something. so i washed my hair. [laughter] after my parents returned, i knew that there would be little time for such mundane but necessary projects. i was right.
after the funeral, i went back to school. one morning i heard the closest thing that i witnessed an argument between my parents. daddy told mother they were going to move into the white house on december 7. mother responded, any day but that day. my father said that that day was best for mrs. kennedy to move out and for the secret service for us to move in. i cannot for the life of me understand why mother was making such a fuss about. i had no appreciation for why the move was such a big deal to my normally over accommodating mother. over the next five years in the white house, i came to have a much greater appreciation for historical events like the december 7 bombing of pearl harbor and the impact on my parents generation. we moved on december 7 and mother never said another word
about it. our first night in the white house i nearly burned it down. mother and daddy needed a few hours off. after the move, they went to dinner and the daughter spent the night with me. my first night in the white house was my first chance to appreciate some of the privileges of being a member of the first family. that was the unbelievable luxury of a fireplace in my bedroom. i decided to light a fire. within a matter of moments, my room was full of smoke. [laughter] i doused the fire with glasses of water. then i went to the window. directly below me was a guard. i was horrified that the officer my look. -- might look up.
i was mortified, but the smoke was stifling. i do not have the luxury of calling to the guard. i somehow managed to open the eight foot window. what the guard saw or didn't see he never mentioned. i never asked. help came. my first week in the white house i spent helping to get the smoke stains on my wall. my teenage life in the white house was accompanied by the answer to every teenage mothers prayers and the embodiment of every teenager's worst nightmare. a 24 hour mandatory law enforcement chaperone. [laughter] i just turned 16 the summer before the assassination. i had just received the teenagers passport to independence -- the driver's license. then, it was all over.
over the years, there has been much discussion on whether i ever escaped the secret service. the answer is an unqualified no. early on, my details let me know that if i tried to escape, about thought that had occurred to me it would cost whichever agent i snuck out on his job. looking back i doubt that would have been the consequence of my escape, but i could not risk that for someone else just to please my adolescent whims. the blackmail worked. the novelty of life in the white house quickly wore off. i found all the disadvantages of living in what i called the great white zoo. this time, we were on the brink of the 1964 campaign.
my father being a wise man who really understood how to appeal to the best side of me realized why i'm not a particular asset to the campaign that i surely can be a liability. the best way to handle me was to appeal to my desire to be useful . he said we are in a sinking ship and i need you to bail for me. i cannot manufacture another daughter by november. i thought he could do anything but i knew he couldn't do that. i thought it was indispensable. my father needed me. i had to work for him, for us, otherwise, the ship could sink. i was a victim of the johnson treatment. i covered 26 states alone, speaking in front of groups of five to 5000. after every appearance, my father had a report back to him. i was required to name three new people i had met in three things that were important to them. to this day, i never go anywhere without recalling three people's
names and remember three things important to them before i check into bed. the campaign trail began for me just before the democratic convention in atlantic city. there was controversy about which delegation would come from mississippi. it resided -- was decided by the powers that be that it was a good idea for me to go to the convention early. the hope was that i could take some of the controversy of the mississippi delegation so that the solution might be found without public feuding. i went and the press followed. i spent every weekend from 12 noon friday to 12:00 midnight sunday on the campaign trail. in the summer of 1964, i hope my desk held my first job -- held my first job during the week and campaigned on the weekend. i love my work and dr. robert
kristen developed my academic prowess and my self-esteem. project headstart for the next 20 years. there are always upsides and downsides to life in the white house. that summer, i gave up my big year at summer camp because i thought that the secret service would ruin it for others. instead, i found a lifelong volunteer commitment. one of my favorite campaign stories is about spearfish south dakota. one night, i overheard a conversation between my mother and the special assistant to my father and now president of the motion picture association. jack was saying that south dakota was going to vote democratic for the first time since franklin roosevelt. we just had to send a family
member out to thank them. mother decided that there wasn't anyone available. mother was booked and daddy was booked. he was promising her the only weekend off since the campaign began. the campaign was desperate. he admitted that we just had no alternatives. i had overheard enough. the handwriting was on the wall. i had a date for every moment of that weekend. i knew there was no way that i was went to be able to persuade jack and mother that my dates to take precidence over spearfish. my only hope was to avoid confrontation. i rushed to my room and stepped in my closet. when they didn't see me, they
would take a looking, and go on. i was wrong. they came. when they didn't see me, they call the secret service to confirm that i was in the white house. so they decide to wait in my room until i came back. [laughter] after 20 minutes, i realized that i cannot stand to stay in a two by four closet for much longer. the die was cast. spearfish would be my destiny. the campaign might have been able to make me go, but they would be sorry. i planned on having the chippist and least gracious attitude ever. what i discovered was the nicest people in the entire world lived in spearfish, south dakota. [laughter] do you rise how hard it is to be surly and resentful when people are being loving and appreciative? as if it wasn't hard enough to lose my wonderful weekend, i cannot be mad about it because the people in spearfish were just too nice.
ignorance breeds temperance. i was much less judgmental. by the time the campaign was over, i no longer felt like an outsider. i felt useful, needed, and happy. from my first day in the white house, i realized i needed to educate myself about it so i did not look like a fool. this education was always on my to-do list, it just somehow never made my calendar. by my senior year in high school, i realized i was never going to get around learning the white house on my own. when i had two free papers assigned, i took advantage of my good fortune and received permission to write one on art in the white house and american history on the white house and how it affected the occupants and how the occupants affected the white house. recently at a youth symposium, i moderated in my commuinity, the students said that school was irrelevant to their present
lives and percieved futures. i wish more students could have an experience like those two term papers were for me. the moment the novelty the white house wore off was in week two. i always thought of the minuses and never the privileges. i was ignorant and therefore prejudiced about politics in the 1964 campaign. for most term papers, i learned a tremendous amount of respect for those who took place in the home. i felt treasured in living there. it had previously just been a big picture of george washington. he became a good friend each . each time i saw george washington's face, i envisioned
his wooden and false teeth. i felt immense pride. i felt immense pride in dolly madison. she risked her life to save this painting by one of america's early great artists when the british burned the capital in and the white house in 1812. i felt empathy for the changes that the white house had made to it. i was grateful for the kennedys who converted the mother's bedroom and bath into a pantry and dining room. the first family could dine in private and could not have to go to the first floor to eat next to the public rooms. i was delighted that my personal discovery of a toilet paper holder had inadvertently been left behind the pantry door when the remodeling was completed. somehow, these discoveries made living there a more human experience. it was making my life that those -- by linking my life to the first families that had gone before me, the me feel like i was never alone to. my father gave a graduation
speech. that was at the same national cathedral that had denounced him in the campaign. i entered georgetown university. the school that i had accepted told me that she thought i can have a 2.0 gpa. she might as well have told me that she would pass me because my father was president of the united states. [laughter] my high school grades had been weak because of my developmental vision problem had gone undetected and unsolved for so long. my first semester i had a 3.4 gpa and was asked to join the national catholic women's honor society and it was sweet revenge. i made peace with politics in the campaign. i still yearned to feel normal. the only way that i envisioned that happening as a teenager was marrying my way out of that existence.
on august 6, 1966, 19 years, one month, and two days, i married. mine was the first wedding in - the white house in 50 years. my wedding was called the white house wedding, even though the actual wedding took place at the shrine of the immaculate conception because the reception took place in the white house. i was married at the shrine because i wanted as a catholic convert to be married at a church. my parish church had too many painful memories about the kennedy funeral. we chose august 6, oblivious in our youth to politically incorrect this date was. hiroshima had been bombed on this day. our wedding was picketed. my son was born just before my father met the chairman and the
leaders of ussr. daddy said he had agonized over what his first word should be. he credited me with providing the answers. he said to the prime minister of the soviet union, mr. prime minister, i understand that you have grandchildren. my first grandchild was just born. i know we want what most of our citizens want for their grandchildren, peace. we can do something about it and let's get to work. on april 11, 1968, my ex-husband became one of many volunteers that went to vietnam. he was already in the national guard when i met him, but there was no way to convince the world that somehow i had not arranged that. he served a year in vietnam just to try and ensure that somehow he was not getting preferential treatment. i went back to visit the white house often while he was overseas, but never again to permanently live there. each night at the white house while my husband and brother in law were facing the dangers of war, the last words i usually
heard were, hey, lbj, how many boys did you kill today? the walls of the white house do not isolate you from the protesters. of all my white house memories none was more impressive than my father's anguish watching the casualties. he wanted so desperately out of that war. no one had more to gain from getting out of vietnam than we did, but only the peaceful honorable resin lucian would do it -- resolution would do it. on march 31, 1968, while my brother-in-law was literally on the way to vietnam, my father announced that he would not seek another term as president. that daddy was willing to give up his personal career which was in many ways his life to try to
bring us to the peace table. he succeeded in bringing us to the peace table, but not the final piece that he desperately wanted. in many ways, i lost my youth in life in the white house, but i had been an eyewitness to history. a privilege few received and i will always revere. i was there on the front row of the white house when the public accommodations bill was signed. i have been on the front row of the capital when the 1965 voting rights act was signed. i have been to missouri with daddy when harry truman first addressed the issue to receive the first medicare card and witness the signing of medicare. i watched the elementary and secondary education signed into law. i watched project head start. i watched my father try so hard so many things and achieve so much. we had come so far on january 20, 1969 when tricia nixon noticed those tears in my eyes.
[applause] >> i would also like to think -- thank mrs. reagan and maureen for having us here. the only presidential library i had been to is my father's, so that is different. i could sit and listen forever because i basically did the same thing 10 years later. i know a lot of things changed in 10 years and i know things have changed since we were in the white house and talking to other residents. you must realize that the white house belongs to everybody in america. but only a few of us get to live
there, to learn its secrets, nooks, and crannies, and to breathe its history and add to its history. americans are understandably very curious about what goes on at the white house. and what is life like on a day-to-day basis. that is why all of you are here today. you cannot imagine the questions that we all have been asked over the years. anything from the mundane to the magnificent. i only wish i had a diary of what questions i've answered. but from our stay there, we got there in a unusual way, just like the johnsons did. my stay started with a note from alice roosevelt wandsworth. she wrote, have one hell of a good time. i took that to heart. [laughter] some of the things that stick
out in my mind workloads -- wer e clothes. the clothes were always an issue at the white house. yes, i did wear blue jeans and we did get criticized from the press for wearing blue jeans. they do not think that was very presidential. my mother stuck up for us and said, leave the kids alone. they were not put in to this office. their father was. for her sticking up for us, that do not always work out to my advantage. my mother did an interview for "60 minutes." [laughter] a well-known interview. it said that i basically could have an affair. i was 17 years old at the time. if you can imagine being a 17-year-old teenager who is a senior in high school, going out with guys, seeing mother on tv and trying to tell them, don't mess up.
her outspokenness got me into trouble in a lot of ways. despite the outward appearances of liberalism in the white house, it was a cross between living in the convent and a reform school. as lucy said, having secret service agents, you learn to be in on time when your parents says 11:00 or midnight. you cannot do what you used to do before you had them because i know when we lived in alexandria where i was raised, i would come in and stand in front of the clock so they could not see what time it was. i would say, mom, i'm home. she never looked at the clock. you can't do that. they do not have to stay up and wait for you because they were just call down and said, what time did susan get home? it was all logged in. who your were in, what time you left that place, it was all on
record for permanence. all the sudden, the views of a very normal 17-year-old girl from alexandria, virginia became the same of a lot of people. i used to read "17" magazine and now i am writing a column for "17" magazine. i showed my daughter and they now laugh because they read "17" magazine. it was a great getting the v.i.p. treatment to go to rock concerts and get backstage passes. i went to a concert to see rod stewart. i got a backstage pass to meet him. i was in total awe of meeting rod stewart. so i read in the tabloids the next week that i was engaged to rod stewart. [laughter] there are truly great disadvantages -- the tabloids loved me to death.
i look back at some of the stuff and it is hysterical. there is a long trend that says that susan ford breaks hearts. half the people that they mentioned in there, i didn't know who they were talking about. that was pretty cruel to me. i did have the privilege while living in the white house of being there for the bicentennial. i have to say that that was really one of the most wonderful, wonderful moments of living there. we received memorabilia of red white and blue of every kind and form from dolls to fans. we got beautiful quilts. on the fourth of july, we started our day in valley forge and then we went on to see the big ships in new york city. i would have to say that that was one of the most incredible things that i have ever participated in. even being a teenager, which takes a lot to move somebody at that age, i was duly impressed. i go back and watch the video now and still, it brings tears
to my eyes to think of the patriotism that america had and how proud i was to be in -- an american and to be a part of that. as any of you who are parents will understand, it is pretty hard not to get a teenager not to eat with their fingers. so try teaching four children how not to eat with their fingers, much less with three forks, a couple of knives, and
three spoons at dinner. those were challenges for us as kids to learn as fast as we possibly could because that is not the way my mother set the table in virginia. it was a challenge for her to teach us and a challenge for us to learn to make sure that we did all the right and proper things and not embarrass my parents. some of the other wonderful funny stories was really my brother jack stories. in the bicentennial, queen elizabeth and prince philip came to the white house for dinner. this was a white tie dinner. during the bicentennial, mother and dad had the queen and the prince come up to the family quarters to receive them. as they came up the elevator and the doors opened, my brother jack was standing there with his shirt unbuttoned and his socks and no tie and he looked at
mother, like, what have i done? sony said i cannot find my studs. the queen looked at my mother and said, that is ok. i have one of those at home, too. [laughter] we all are very normal, even the british. i got to throw the first brisbane on the great wall of china with gary trudeau, the cartoonist. i was there in the fall 1975. blondes were very unusual to see. everywhere i would go, these little crowds of people would follow me around. when we went through the receiving line meeting chairman mao, both my mother and father were there. i followed my mother. his eyes lit up. thanks goodness the tabloids went there for that because it probably would've made it. i used to walk into cabinet meetings. there were a few meetings that i would not walk into to get my allowance or ask my dad if i could go someplace. that was just real standard normal things. normally it was meetings with dr. kissinger or vice president rockefeller, people i knew and felt comfortable about. in my blue jeans, of course. the staff, i would say, had somewhat of an awakening, like when luci got there. having teenagers or if you have lived through them, it it is the midnight snack and the friends coming over. we went through bags and bags of
potato chips and the cans of pop. you are always raiding the refrigerator for something. you didn't want the pretty little cookies. we wanted stuff. we really did change that a lot. we used to have, when we first moved into the white house, to make a phone call, you had to go to the white house operators. they finally realized that was not going to work with me. they finally installed a private line and i just had to dial the number myself. i thought it was kindness to me and i realized it was more kindness to the white house operators. [laughter] you didn't get one. [laughter] i was afraid of that. our pets got mail and it was always unusual to us.
and we answered it. they are voters. there are voters out there. you cannot upset these people. [laughter] now, lucy got her drivers license. i already had my driver's license at the time. my dad said that you are a girl on you do not need a card until you're 18. i had to live with the same thing that lucy did with my agents driving me around. on a date, they followed us. i did escape once which was not a very pretty experience. i did get my car. you always had to leave your keys in the car because we parked them all on the south lawn. if an event was coming up or state dinner was going, they would move your car. and it would be moved to the north side or west of that. they were constantly moving those things. i drove myself around and they followed me. i felt like i'd gotten the chain
and ball taken off of my foot at that point. i would be less than honest though if i do not take knowledge the flipside of living in the white house. it is really a burden in every aspect to be so intruded on your public life. every detail of your life dissected by the press. it is more than living in a glass house. it is living in a magnified house. there seems to be a lot of lack of compassion for the first family, most of all by the press. i certainly would not want to be living there in today's world. because i really think it has taken some of the dignity away from the first family and the respect that we have as americans for the first family. [applause] as a former member of the press,
i know there are some people who would disagree with me who are friends of mine. i really think that if we gave some of the privacy back to the first family that they might share a little more voluntarily. thank you. [applause] >> the white house the three of us lived in was different than the one that peggy lived in. that is because of the truman restoration. >> not only that i didn't have , secret service. i had a nanny. [laughter] peggy: i had both. they were about the same. [laughter] the only difference is that the secret service is like having a herd of little brothers
following you around. physically, it was different. that was brought home to me on a couple of occasions. in 1984 was the centennial of an eleanor roosevelt, we held a luncheon in the east room of the white house. all the members of the roosevelt family who could come did. i was sat at a table with the roosevelt cousins. these are people who had been young children in those days. at that time, the main staircase of the white house, if you remember from yankee doodle dandy, came straight down into the state floor and not the grand staircase that was built at the time of the truman restoration. so they used to tell wonderful stories about going up and getting the huge silver platters and using them as tobaggans. when you think of things that have gone on in the white house from abigail adams laundry in
the east room to caroline and her pony in the east room, no one has figured out what to do in the east room. as become a variety of things. at the time lucy was there, her mother found everybody who should cut that had been in the white house and brought them back to the white house. one of those people was eleanor roosevelt's daughter. the dining room of the floor where we love to eat in our jammies. as she wandered around, she sed in her rascally fashion, i remember this room. i had my appendix out in this room. [laughter] i used to think of that every night when we sat down for dinner. [laughter] the white house has absorbed the hospitality of all the families that have lived there.
and you feel that hospitality, not just as a visitor but when you actually go there to live. you leave some of yourself behind as well for those who come after. so it becomes a warmer and more hospitable place as every generation goes on. one thing that i did notice about the white house when i first got there was that it was deathly still on the second floor and it was just no sound. i said with great trepidation to the reagans, how long does it take to feel comfortable? they said about 30 days. after i had been there and accumulated 30 days, they were absolutely right. it did not feel like a museum anymore. it did feel like a place that you called home. about that time, my husband came for the first time. and he was there by himself. i came up and found this man in
a state of absolute manic in the room saying, don't ever leave me here alone. [laughter] the quiet is deafening. but he got used to it, too. we had a great many things about the white house that we dearly loved. our dog, willy, was a puppy in 1986 and came to the white house quite often. and so he grew up with the south lawn. could this day, willy has never understood why he will never again see a lawn that size. when we got home for the weekend, he would look at a little patch of grass and go, is this it? [laughter] never did understand why we didn't have a lot of squirrels. i got a great education one day from willy and that is that squirrels do not just run down trees, grab nuts, and run back up. they gather all the stuff under their tree. at their leisure, they take it
up to the nest. i didn't know that, but willy did. you would have the squirrels on you would have the squirrels on these trees screaming bloody murder as a little apricot poodle ran around, grabbing all their twigs, and getting this huge mouthful. "look at me. i found it all." [laughter] the people in the white house, those people who serve the white house and the residents, who are there through many of our generations, are probably the most unique group of individuals i've ever met. our wonderful friend and butler alfredo got down on the hands and knees to play with the dog. usher.i will never forget.
i remember gary walters, chief usher. i will never forget. it was inaugural night of 1985. the first inaugural in 1981, we had been staying at blair house. although the folks had moved into the white house, it was silly to move in and go the next day. so we just stayed at blair house. we went over for a small glass of champagne. hence, the family portrait that you see in the library. we had not come back to the white house on that first inaugural. but the second inaugural night we did. when we came in, it was very late at night. i was very embarrassed to find gary standing in the diplomatic reception room waiting for us because usually if i was going to be out late, i would say, "everybody go home and go to bed. do not wait up for me." i had said that little knowing that i would be the last one in. it was 3:00 in the morning and we came wandering in and it was gary walters standing there. i said, gary, i'm so sorry. i apologize. he said, no, this happens every four years.
i burst into tears and said, but you will be waiting for somebody else in four years. of course, that was true. i remember dennis and i were walking down to the tennis court and there was this little pigeon in the ivy that look very sick. there was a groundskeeper and asked if he knew what was wrong with the bird. he said no. i asked if he could find out. he said no. i said, i think you ought to do that. he went, uh-huh. i walked down the tennis court and it was a saturday morning. i thought, no, no, no. i want back and said, excuse me, sir, my father will be really unhappy if this bird dies and nobody tried to find out what was wrong with it. he said, ok. when we got back from the tennis court, there was a pigeon sitting on a towel on the ushers desk waiting for the spca who discovered it was dying of old age. [laughter]
but it did not die in the presence of ivy. president reagan, my father, felt that the squirrels on the white house grounds were severely underprivileged. because they were oaktrees, it did not bear any fruit. there were no acorns on the white house grounds. when he went to camp david, he would bring a great big plastic bag of acorns that he had gathered at camp david and would put them on the patio outside the oval office. every day, he would watch and wait for the squirrels to come and take the acorns. on fridays, they would literally be knocking on the glass saying, don't forget us. we will be back on monday. [laughter] at the very end of the administration, there was a meeting held in the oval office. it was very close to the
inaugural time. the squirrels came to the door and mr. bush suddenly realized for these years that the squirrels had been coming to the door. he said, my dog would make short shrift of those squirrels. my father was absolutely incensed. outside the door, there was a little brass plaque that said "beware of dog." [laughter] there is a lot of residual affects that goes one from each of us to the other. and that is one of the things that mrs. reagan was criticized for, was a lot of the work that was done in the white house. some of the things that nobody realizes is that at the time of the truman restoration, all the beautiful inlaid of the doors are all taken down and labor refinished. it was gorgeous. well, 10 years later, when miss kennedy came in and did her
work, there was no need to take those doors down again. by the time the reagans got there, it was 30 years later. in the build up of the wax and the air in the dirt, had covered up all the inlay. it took a lot of money and a great deal time. all those doors had to be taken down, stripped, and put back up. why would you want to do that because it has been done before? it was done several times, but it needed to be done again. it was things like that with floors and other places. it was constant upkeep of this beautiful house, which really is a residence. that is the important thing about the white house. it is to remember that it is not a 1000 room palace like they have at the presidential palace in italy. it is an honest-to-goodness house that was built by president george washington to be a home in a place for national entertainment, but also to be a home.
that was his absolute prerequisite when he began that process. i hope that we have all lived up to it. at least we have tried. we had our share of exciting things. the imf treaty was signed in the room with mr. gorbachev. i had a picture of it that my father signed to my husband saying, i know you are here somewhere. i'm so glad you could join us. we knew where we were sitting so it was ok. there was a wonderful dinner when charles and diana came. i had to tell a story out my husband. there was a lady in waiting was from the court who is traveling with them who was a real piece of work. [laughter] she happened to be seated next to my husband, for many who know him, he is a mild-mannered man and does not get upset too often.
she was at the top of her voice at this table, carrying on about how the privacy of the princess and prince have been devastated by the secret service and they had invaded their trip in hawaii and on and on and on. dennis kept quietly trying to explain what the secret service had to do. it was the state department security. that didn't stop her. you have to understand that the reagans feel a great friendship with her majesty and if anything were to happen to the members of the family, they would be absolutely devastated. of course, we would make every effort. that didn't stop her.
finally, he turned to her and said, perhaps if you paid a little bit more attention to this type of thing, lord mt. blatt would still be alive. [laughter] he came up to me afterwards and said, did i do all right? i said, i think that was wonderful. carry on, dennis. the white house operators, this wonderful group of people who could find you absolutely anywhere, and for somebody to travel all the time as i did, in 1980, i was in 27 states and i thought i was a lot. in 1984, i was in all 50 states. 14 of them only once and some of them as many as eight times. the reason that i know we traveled 250,000 miles in one year was because the secret service kept track. from the first of november in 1983 to the election day of 1984, i was in the state of california 65 days. i know what that kind of traveling is like. when you travel all the time
you realize that all of a sudden the phone rings and it is very -- this very familiar voice on the other end saying, where are you? i almost titled the book "where are you?" i remember the time in 1985 what we were on a cruise in the -- in the mediterranean at the time and one reporter said we were on target of the hijacking and that was not the case. it was nothing to do with us but it made a great story. when we got to london, and was the day that our people finally got ahold of the hijackers by forcing their plane down. i called him from london. people were coming up to us in the middle saying, i love being an american. ronald reagan is great.
i went to the hotel and called and the switchboard said he was away. i said that you are really great. he said, where are you? [laughter] i said, i'm in london. he said, coming home soon? there was a day when he fired donald regan, one of my favorite days in the white house. the chairman of the party called me at 5:00 in the morning and said, wake up, kid. you're going to love the news. i immediately got on the phone and called him, i said, this is brilliant. he said, where are you? [laughter] that happened a lot. they certainly could keep track of us. the white house switchboard was one of those groups that stayed with you. their job was to find anyone to talk to. one day, the president was lobbying congress on a piece of legislation and gave them a list of who he wanted to talk to. they called back and said so and so was on the line. he heard this very sleepy voice and he said, where are you?
the member of congress said, i'm in australia. it is 3:00 in the morning, mr. president. is there something i can do for you? he said, it is not me. it is an imposter. [laughter] he asked the switchboard if they would be kind enough in the future if he was awakening somebody in the middle of the night. at night when i was in my room i slept in the lincoln bedroom because it was the only bed in the house that could fit my husband, who is 6'7". i would've married him anyway. i called him and said, could you see if you could find my husband? i think he is in sacramento or los angeles. they would try and 45 minutes would go by. it was dinner time out here and he was probably out having dinner someplace. the fact that they cannot find
him -- they were so mortified that they kept saying to him could we get you a beeper? i finally had to call and say, ladies, it is ok. he is probably eating dinner. he will call when he gets back. we made a joke out of it. i've always said that my main claim to fame was for eight years that i could dial 202-456-1414 and say to whoever answered, hi, this is maureen and they knew who it was. it is like being eloise as an adult. >> they could still call back and know who you are. maureen: the new people have changed the phone system. it is not that easy anymore. i had to get a list from helen thomas. [laughter] it was one of those fantastic experiences. every day, when i would ride
through the gates of the white house, i would look out at all the grass in the trees, from the time you get there, you know it is a finite amount of time and it would not go on forever. we were there in 1984 when they peeled the paint off in the north portico and we could see the flame marks from the war of 1812. you could feel the history of the building more than at any other time. the memories may fade. time does that to us. every day, i try to regenerate those memories. i was there and i would count the squirrels to make sure they were all right. i would take different pictures of the same things so i would have that to look back on. but the one thing was whatever i
was there, i was always cognizant of the fact i was privileged to be there because a great many people have worked very hard to make that happen. i always wanted to be able to radiate to those people, many of them are you, that sense of community. that we were there because of you. you were really there with us. and every day, i was very aware of that. and i knew every day that the day you stop feeling that way, you shouldn't be there. and i never stopped feeling that way. and like everybody else, when it came time to leave, i cried. [applause] richard smith: maureen has
spoken of her own sense of privilege. everyone in this room feels a sense of privilege to be here in the company of these four ladies. i want to thank them again for sharing a lively and very intimate look at a side of white house history that the historians don't often illuminate. we have a few minutes for questions. i'm going to exercise a privilege and ask the first one of peggy. as peggy says, i have known her for some time. i would ask her to tell a happy memory and a not so happy memory. one is about a little girl who was your playmate. referring to. peggy: i know what you're referring to. yes. i will take the second one first.
you got to remember this -- when i was just entering first-grade age six, it was 1933. i did have secret service then. and if we were good, we could ride to the school in pasadena in the secret service car. it was one of the blue roasters with a rumble seat, and it had red wheels. and we were good, i could ride in the rumble seat. at school, we were picked up, i think this was a couple years later. this was when i was nine years old. i was waiting to be picked up to go home. and we were playing on the kind of a merry-go-round, a swinging thing you hung onto. a little girl i was with, we were having a great time. and her mother came for her come and she looked at me and then she snatched her daughter.
and she said "i don't want you playing with her, she is responsible for your father losing his job." i don't know whether you realize, i think all of us who are mothers do realize -- my parents, i know, had so many of their own problems dealing with all of the hate that went on. they didn't realize we children were dealing with it too. i had to deal with it until i was 19 years old and i transferred from stanford and went to wellesley. finally i could be myself. i could be me. so much for the unhappy parts. you wanted rollerskating. we didn't have rollerblades in those days. we didn't have rollerblades, probably a good thing. we rollerskated on the third
floor. i didn't know the second floor like you did. i lived on the third floor of the white house. there is a parapet that goes around the white house and if you look really hard behind the parapet, there are windows. those were our windows. on the top floor, the solaria or whatever you want to call it comes down. up there, it's the real thing almost. there were closets and rooms all around. i remember all of the golden state chairs there, they stacked the tables. they were all stored in a big closet. anyways, there was that room to rollerskate.
my brother and i would have our tricycles and rollerskates up there. it didn't matter what the weather was. i remember the pre-truman staircase. and most of the time we didn't do stairs, there was a little family elevator that went up to the third floor. i got stuck in between. there were secret service coming down, it wasn't a very big elevator. there was a hole of the top. and we had secret service coming down from up above, try to get us unstuck. i remember the auto gyro landing on the white house lawn. my youngest son is a helicopter pilot, and when he was getting his license, he would come
practice landing on our front lawn. i would think back to the day when i saw the first one of those airships landing on the white house lawn. he would come at 10:00 at night and i would say oh no. i do switch on the light, he would land, and say thanks mom and then take off again. he's a pennsylvania state trooper and he was getting his hours in. i never know whether i'm going to have the pennsylvania state police landing in my front or back yard. [laughter] richard smith: if people have questions, come up to the microphones. maureen mentioned alice roosevelt, they were talking about the grand staircase. there is a story apparently that is true where she was
mischievous, to put it roundly. he gave her great pleasure when she was living in the white house as the president's daughter, she would hide of the staircase and went tour groups came by, she would jump out smoking a cigarette and say did you know that the president beat his children regularly? [laughter] maureen: she came out to a state dinner cussing like a sailor because the guards didn't recognize her. [laughter] >> this is for susan ford. my husband and i returned from a trip to washington, dc where one of our congressional tours was through the white house. it was a thrill to me because i'm a dozen there. one of the cute they told us was
that you had your senior prom in the east room and that it was 100% attended. i would love to hear you elaborate on that. susan: to this date, it was the only prom ever held there. i was a senior in high school and freshman in college when my dad was president. i was going to a private girls school in washington which i had been going to before my dad became president. and all of a sudden the senior class came to me and said do you think -- [laughter] normally you go to the hilton and rent the grand ballroom and go through that whole process. and i said i don't know, let me check with my parents and see what their reaction would be. and check with the chief usher of the white house. mother and dad said i don't have any problem with it, but i want to be sure that the school pays for all of the refreshments, all the food come all of the flowers, that the taxpayers are not paying for that. so i checked and they said we can arrange all that.
and i said ok, fine. we had more parents volunteer to chaperone -- [laughter] my parents went out of town. they were out of the country. and so they flew my aunt in, because i lived on the third floor. all of my other brothers were off on a dude ranch or in college, getting their masters in something. of course, being at that age, my mother didn't trust me. she flew my aunt in to stay on the third floor was made because she knew that i would probably have 45 girls spend the night, plus my date, and was a college boy. he came in for the weekend and we had to keep everybody in their corners. [laughter] susan: i could have an affair, you know? [laughter] susan: parents talk out of both sides of their mouths.
maureen: i actually got to sleep with a man in the white house. [laughter] susan: you couldn't spike the punch. there are truly some disadvantages of doing it at the white house. at a hotel you can spike your punch, but there too many people around. we had a blast, and i do watch that video. it was great fun. they shut us down at midnight, but we went after parties. it was a typical prom, but it happened to be on the state floor. maureen: another good use for the east room. >> good morning. >> this is a question for susan. what is the most fun you have ever had, that you had in the white house that you have never shared with anybody?
[laughter] maureen: we are waiting. we can wait a long time. susan: let's answer another question. i need to think about that. >> i have one for luci. your father faced many crises, vietnam being chief among them. what is the most poignant moment you have privately that you recall? luci: one night, i was watching a movie, one of the advantages of living in the white house is you have your own movie theater. and that was pre-video days, so was a real extra advantage then. my father called over and said to me, i think i'm going to need
a house of prayer tonight. i had been a roman catholic convert during the white house and faith was a real strong part of my life. so my father decided i could do something about this. he said i want you to find a church that might be open at any hour of the evening. can you do that? and i said sure, daddy. i'm sure i can do that. i would be glad to. and he says i will get back to you. so i went to a church, saint dominic's, which is actually quite near the white house. it is a roman catholic church. run by dominican monks. i called them up and said is it possible for us to be able to come over sometime, anytime during the night? i have a friend who might need a
house of worship. i didn't say who my friend was, but there was obviously no doubt who it would be. so they said certainly, yes. about midnight, maybe 1:00, my father called me and said luci that project i asked you to help me out on, have you made any process? and i said yes, sir. i jumped up and ran up and met him at the diplomatic reception room. we got in a car and we went over to saint dominic's and they had a little private chapel that we were able to go in. we went in and prayed. my father has not told me any of the reasons why he has made this request. we went in and we prayed and i just prayed for whatever his intentions were, what his concerns were. i knew it was something was very stressful. and we came home and my mother
was gone my sister was gone and my father says i don't want a be alone tonight. would you mind coming in and sitting in my room? and i said sure, daddy. i came in and sat in his room, and daddy never explained, at about 6:00 in the morning, i was sitting there and he was working, i was working, we were both up all night, i knew not why. about 6:00 in the morning, the phone rang. my father said yes, yes, yes, oh thank god. and hung up. i said daddy, what happened? and he says we went in and bombed this morning. and all of our men have come back alive. you can go now. [laughter] i went in.
but to be able to been there for somebody, even if you didn't know why, your physical presence between those who knew had unquestioned love is extremely reassuring. a lot of people feel great concern for first families especially first families who have adolescents. because they say it must be so wrenching to live in a gold fishbowl existence like the white house. and it is. there is no doubt there is truth to all of that. but the fact are that before we were in the white house, my father was gone all the time. he never brought people home for lunch. and neither did your daddy, i know that. he turned to his family. in a way that he never had before. i was 16 years old before i ever ate dinner alone with my parents.
and so there are some gifts that come to you living in the white house, because first families do turn towards each other and appreciate each other and treasure each other. and lean on each other in a way i think they probably don't before and maybe don't afterwards. and for that, i will always be grateful. it was a surprise gift. [applause] richard smith: we have time for one more. >> this is for mrs. brigham. i'm a retired schoolteacher. i have adjectives for most of my first ladies, like mrs. johnson, i think your mother was brilliant, gracious. mrs. reagan, tenacious courageous. i wonder if you could encapsulate your mother for us. peggy: i think you want my grandmother.
i never knew her before the white house. and there was a set of adjectives for her then. she was very gracious, very diplomatic. she was very well organized. but there was a sort of a sadness that came after the white house. after the white house, i can remember being with her and in those days, one didn't have car heaters. you have car robes. i would be sitting in the back of the car with her and i was suddenly realize she was doing this.
something always moving, her phone was always going up and down. -- her foot was always going up and down. having to be still, she had a backup everybody. it was a very poignant letter she wrote on the train coming back from washington. to her two sons. i have the letter. never once did i ever hear her or did she ever in writing criticize anybody. she was always positive. even when things were going very bad. she was always try to figure out what could she do to make things right or to make them better. she wasn't a pollyanna, i don't mean that at all. i never even heard her criticize when the norwegian all counts were invited to breakfast. or lunch. [laughter] peggy: there was a norwegian elk hound given to granddaddy by the king of norway. he was a lovely dog and my
family were very fond of animals. there were always dogs at the white house. everything from an irish wolfhound that when he stood up and his hands on my grandmother's shoulders, his head was still above hers. there was a dog, there was a scotty, i have a scotty. and then there was the norwegian elkhound. i couldn't say norwegian when i was three years old. so he was ouija. he had his own chair right there. it had arms on it, and he learned how to set up at appropriate moments through the meal and granddaddy would go -- [laughter] peggy: the hysterical part was we went to california, and the dog had two sons join him.
by that time, he was an old hand. he knew that salad, depending what the dressing was, whether he got any or not. soup was a no-no. but the puppies had to learn. it could be hair-raising. i never once heard my grandmother say anything. there was no rug underneath the table for very good reasons. one puppy was here, one was there, one was there. the floor was highly polished and the puppies would miss. the chair shot one way and the puppy went the other, trying to retrieve. you would think that most housewives would have had
conniptions at all this going on. not my grandmother. she was always referred to as a lady. [applause] richard smith: last. >> this is to ms. bales and ms. johnson. when you had dates, where did they come pick you up? luci: let me give a preamble. i was 30 years old before i ever went out alone on a date with a man. and i had four children by then. so i had a very strange adolescence. my children and said to me and children have said since cain and abel to their parents, you don't understand. [laughter] luci: i always said that's absolutely true.
i had a bizarre adolescence, but i'm the only mother you have and you are stuck with me, so i'm doing the best i can. my adolescence spent in the white house, my dates usually met me in the diplomatic reception room, the same room that we meet heads of state in. and they felt a commensurate amount of pressure on them here at they were analyzed beyond belief. i feel very, very respectful for those members of the press who have chosen to have some understanding towards chelsea clinton and given her a chance at having her youth. i really had no privacy in my adolescence. nor did anybody i ever went out with.
and that was a real strange thing. you always were worried with someone going out with you because you were the delightful human being that you knew yourself to be, or because it were simply who was going to try and take advantage of you. you could have spent your life never going out because you are always fearful. or you can just say you win some and you lose some, i won some and i lost some. susan: mine was similar, except my dates would come up the elevator, and they would call and say so and so is here to come get you. i would try to bypass my parents to the best ability that i could, because they lived in the second floor and i lived on the third floor. and then mr. bruce or freddie would knock on the door and say "susan, your date is here." the thing is, with secret service agents, your parents can find you wherever you want.
even if you do slip out the door, you'll get a message that says call home, your mom wants to talk to. a lot of the time, and will understand, your parents are out almost every single night. if it's not a reception from 5:00 to 7:00 or a dinner from 7:00 to 9:00, they are not around all that much, unless you carve out weekends, which we would carve out weekends at camp david, which is totally protected and no one would find out about it, which is the wonderful thing about camp david. the other advantage of having secret service agents was if you took your date to georgetown parking in georgetown was very difficult. so you rode with them and let them worried about parking the car. but to answer the other gentleman's question, i think probably -- and i have to make two statements.
i had a small dinner party on the sequoia before my prom with my very best friends from high school and their dates. it was one of the neatest dinner partes we ever done. the other was celebrating my 18th birthday on the white house lawn with my friends and bringing the band in and the whole nine yards. my parents were criticized for serving beer because we did the day before my birthday and i drank beer the day before i turned 18. that is the kind of criticism that you just go come on, give us a break. richard smith: thank you for coming. be sure to enjoy the exhibit. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> remarkable partnerships, iconic women. their stories in "first ladies," the book. >> she did say the portrait of washington, which is one of the things that endeared her to the nation. >> what she was doing, who she was seeing, that was going to help sell papers. >> she takes over radio station and just starts running it. have you do that? >> she exerted enormous influence because she would move a mountain to make sure that her husband was protected. >> "first ladies," now a book. looking inside the personal life of every first lady of american history. based on original interviews from c-span's "first ladies" series.
learn about their lives, ambitions, families, and unique partnerships with their presidential spouses. "first ladies," presidential historians on the lives of 45 iconic american women. filled with lively stories of fascinating women who survived the scrutiny of the white house, sometimes a great personal cost, often changing history. c-span's "first ladies" is an inspiring read. now available as a hardcover or an e-book through favorite bookstore or online bookseller. >> tonight on "q&a," former bloomberg news reporter kate andersen brower on the world of the white house through the eyes of the people who work there from the kennedys through the obamas. brian: who are the thicklins? kate: they are an incredible family. i interviewed james jeffries, the only current balderdash you might be there right now -- who works every week at the white house.
nine members of the family working there. his uncles, and the head butler, and he told me that "my uncles ran the white house." they brought him there when he was 17 years old in 1959 during the eisenhower administration, and he is still working there. he described how he worked to the kitchen and this skinny little guy, getting ice cream to eat. it is incredible to see what members of the eisenhowers were like. people -- this is dying breed of person who remember that and i wanted to patronage to these people. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's "q&a." >> on the next "washington journal," lanndy davis talks about the criticism and potential conflict of interest by former president bill clinton and former secretary of state
hillary rodham clinton over contributions and speaking fees given to the clinton foundation. the president of the southern baptist convention's ethics and religious liberty commission discusses the role of evangelicals in the 2016 campaign. and tom martin, ceo of the american forest foundation, looks at the cost of resources needed to suppress forest fires in the united states. as always, we will take your calls and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. "washington journal," live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. newly sworn in attorney general loretta lynch testified on capitol hill last week for the first time since taking over operations of the justice department. she appeared before the senate appropriations subcommittee on justice to go over doj's 2016 budget request, which totals more than $28 billion and includes investments
international security, civil rights, and crime initiatives. attorney general lynch also talked about immigration and the nsa's bulk collection of phone data. senator shelby: committee will come to order. welcome to today's commerce justice, and science subcommittee hearing examining the department of justice's fiscal year 2016 budget request. let me welcome loretta lynch to her first hearing before this subcommittee as she assumes the important responsibility of serving as our nation's chief law enforcement officer. welcome. as you begin your two-year term as attorney general, i believe it is critical for you to return the office of attorney general to its constitutional purpose, which is to enforce the laws of the land, not the degrees and -- decreasees and whims of the
president. the president has a white house counsel and plenty of attorneys arguing for his point of view on immigration, environmental regulations and more. the attorney general, i believe, is the servant of the laws and citizens of the united states, not the president. i want to encourage you, madam attorney general, to consider this perspective carefully as you begin your service in a job that is critical to our democracy and to the rule of law. i am deeply troubled by your support of the president's unilateral executive actions which provide amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. fortunately, the sweeping policy change undertaken without input from congress has been stayed at the courts while the a detailed review is conducted through the lens of the law and the constitution. i hope that while this litigation is pending, progress will be made on key responsibilities that are within
the department's jurisdiction such as executive office for immigration review. the president's 2016 budget seeks a funding level of $482 million, $135 million above the current 2015 funding level, a big increase. significant improvements and reforms are needed in our immigration court system in order to address the approximately 440,000 pending cases, some of which involve unaccompanied children. this backlog equates to a waiting time of several years before a case is heard. i believe and what hope you would agree that this is unacceptable. while the needs are great for immigration courts, i have serious reservations about such a large funding increase when inefficiencies and concerns have yet to be addressed within your office.
in your new role as attorney general of the united states i'm interested in hearing your suggestions and recommendations for prioritizing spending for the department's most important missions involving national security, law enforcement, and criminal justice. the president's 2016 budget request for the department of justice totals $29 billion, $2 billion above the 2015 level. while funding for the department of justice is one of the federal government's highest priorities we cannot afford such an increase in spending while operating under our current budget constraints. i am concerned that even in the midst of the current fiscal climate, the president has proposed new grant programs and init