White House Butlers: A History of White House Chief Ushers and Butlers

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Congressional leaders and various groups of legislators have come by the White House from time to time to negotiate with Trump, and even shared a few meals there. Since the shutdown began, Trump has put off travel to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he typically gets in daily rounds of golf and catches up with old friends. A military plane with the call sign reserved for the first family when the president is not with them landed in Palm Beach on Thursday night but the White House did not comment on who was aboard.

The room White House and its priceless contents require hour maintenance and monitoring, so mechanical and operations engineers and electricians are part of the skeletal crew, said Gary Walters, a former White House chief usher, the person responsible for managing the residence staff. Those events could still be canceled or postponed depending on the length of the shutdown. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

Shutdown hits home for Trump; he lives in government housing. In this Jan. George W. He fondly recalled one day when he was serving refreshments at a T-ball game on the South Lawn and the president came out from the Diplomatic Reception Room. President George W.

Discretion - Inside the Private World of the White House

Bush loved having a little fun with the residence workers. While the first family is in their private quarters on the second and third floors of the White House, a butler is almost always available—in the second-floor pantry or nearby—waiting to serve. He kept his sweet Southern accent from his years growing up in Yanceyville, North Carolina. He finally got to Washington when he was twenty years old. He had nowhere to stay until he found a sympathetic owner of a gas station who let him sleep at the station and wash up in the bathroom.

Eventually he found a room on Rhode Island Avenue Northwest for ten dollars a week, and while he was there he befriended someone who worked at the glamorous art deco Kennedy Warren apartment building in northwest Washington. He told his friend that he was a good worker and his friend got him an interview. He was hired on the spot. Not long after that, at a party, he met someone who worked at the White House. Ramsey asked him if he could get him a job there. Until you do the background check.


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With the background check all these little skeletons start coming out of the closet. One boy came in during the Clinton administration and he told us, at the very last minute, that he was arrested and convicted of rape. We have thirteen-year-old Chelsea upstairs! That application went in the trash can. But it took a few years until the White House finally called him. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Chief Usher Stephen Rochon remembered that Ramsey was the first residence worker to welcome him and that he went out of his way to tell Rochon what was happening on the second and third floors.

Like a doorman in any building, he saw everyone coming and going and held their secrets.


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Jerman views his loyalty to the first family and his guarding of their privacy as a natural response to the trust they place in him. When she asked one butler what had changed the most in the White House over his several decades of service, he mentioned two things: more women and no more drinking at lunch. I was lucky enough to have interviewed Pierce before his passing.

He told me that one day he had to bring something to President Lyndon Johnson to sign during a luncheon with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, and at least a half dozen other advisers. They were almost certainly talking about Vietnam at the time. He was mad about something. I could not repeat a single word he said or the president said to him. Bush he noticed that some of his fellow advisers got nervous when butlers and residence staff came in. I think other people were more uncomfortable with the presence of a butler than the president or the first lady ever were.


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  4. Yet the very thing that the staff most pride themselves on—their ability to fade into the background—can also be dehumanizing. In some cases, the president or the first lady have proved uncomfortably oblivious to the workers nearby. Right in front of me. I thought she would fuss at him in private. She thought he should be asleep. I was a little surprised, so I dropped the luggage and got out as soon as I could. President Johnson often undressed in front of staffers and was famous for rattling off orders while he was sitting on the toilet. Once, reporter Frank Cormier was shocked to see Air Force One Steward Sergeant and Valet Paul Glynn kneel before the president while they were in midair and wash his feet—all the more so because Johnson never once acknowledged Glynn.

    Most of the time, however, working on such an intimate basis for the most powerful family in the world makes the staff feel respected. Bush, never spilled secrets. And I know right from wrong. They maintain their discretion even when chatting with the first families themselves. The kinds of memories of everyday life that are treasured by most families are especially dear to the first families, who have often invited residence workers to join them on their downtime.

    Laura Bush says that her husband and Butler Ron Guy shared a love for fishing. I have a great big blowup of a photograph of George and Vice President Cheney and Ron Guy out on the little electric bass boat that we have at our ranch, fishing.

    In the Trump Era, Even the White House Usher Is a Possible Political Target

    Bush said. He was such a gentle and lovely man and he died while we lived there. I have a wonderful photograph of him standing at the door waiting for the president to come back with Spot, our dog. They were always great to all the animals.

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    As the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham approached and thousands celebrated the recent March on Washington commemoration, former White House Butler George Hannie relived his journey from s segregated Alabama to the regal second floor residence of the President of the United States.

    Born and raised in Northport, Ala. He remembered the police kicking him off street corners, and threatening him and other black residents with sticks. Johnson, paused and heaved a melancholic sigh. You understand? In telling his story, Hannie focused on the gleaming stories of triumph, epitomized in the love he shared for his mother. He reflected on the moment he escorted his mother up North Portico, the regal entrance to the White House, where he often saw kings, queens, and presidents walk.

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    I said to myself well, my mother is just as important as all those kings and queens. Working in a navy exchange store in Washington, D. A man with an Alabama license plate drove up to greet Hannie, and the two became friends because of their home state connection. The man introduced Hannie to a woman who worked at the White House, and the rest was history. Hannie mixed lemonade with Allen on his first assignment at a function on the south grounds.

    Trump redecorates White House with gold walls, chandelier

    After that event, Allen took Hannie under his wing. Hannie insists he was never treated poorly. It became one happy family.

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