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Book details
  • Genre:BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  • SubGenre:Presidents & Heads of State
  • Language:English
  • Pages:192
  • Format:Hardcover
  • Hardcover ISBN:9781098331917

Alice Blue Gown

Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth

by William Albert Stricklin

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Overview
Lots of mail for the Vice President arrived at the Old Senate Office Building. In order to get ahead of researching and preparing the responses timely, I drove my 1949 VW Bug into the Senate garage two hours before I was to report for Army Counterintelligence Corps duty at Fort McNair and rode the private elevator to the Vice President's office. You can imagine my surprise at 4 A.M. to find "Flo" from "Manpower" that kept half of each paycheck. One of the clerks, Bob (his real name) told Flo (her real name) he "called the shots" (he did not) to upgrade Flo to become Nixon's full-time receptionist instead of just "temporary service." In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt bought a chair-and-a-half for 350-pound William Howard Taft, whom T. R. named his Secretary of War quid pro quo for Taft's support of Theodore Roosevelt in the 1904 Presidential election. Taft is remembered as "the president who was so large that he got stuck in the White House bathtub," a story that is not true. Pat Nixon rescued the Taft Chair from White House refurnishing for Ike and had it trundled to her husband's offices in the Old Senate Office Building placed beside the cozy, warm fireplace. Bob's insatiable taste for aspiring temporary workers was no secret.During Alice Roosevelt's wild teenage, the Taft Chair was in The West Sitting Room of the White House while her father was President. Asked why he did not control his strong-willed daughter, the President said: "I can do one of two things. I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice Roosevelt. (My 19-year-old daughter.) I cannot possibly do both." Pat Nixon told Alice at a dinner party that she had moved the Taft Chair was into her husband's office. It was my delight to see Alice's face when she spied the Taft Chair, after not seeing it for a half century during her own teenage years. This book is non-fiction. I shall not indulge or share lascivious speculations about Alice and the Taft Chair.
Description
"Alice Blue Gown" is the tale of a 75-year-old friend of Pat and Richard Nixon I met in his Old Senate Office Building offices. Pat Nixon told Alice that a huge leather chair that she enjoyed in her father's White House West Sitting Hall was moved into her husband's offices - where I worked. Alice Longworth was a mainstay of the Washington scene for decades, unconventional, irreverent, witty, liberated and politically influential. She held court and lobbied for change at her home near Dupont Circle on Massachusetts Avenue, Washington's Embassy Row. It was the meeting place of many high ranking politicians. She publicly quarreled with many famous Americans and chastised them with an acid tongue in the form of witty sarcastic remarks. In the forefront were members of her own family, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. An utterance toward Franklin..."I'd rather vote for Hitler than to vote for him." Her best was reserved for Eleanor, who she vilified her entire life and imitated perfectly at various high Republican gatherings. Mrs. Longworth heaped disparaging remarks, using every opportunity, upon the home district of her Congressman husband, Cincinnati, Ohio calling its residents "ignorant savages" and saying when asked if she would consider burial in Cincinnati. With the response..."This would be a fate worse than death itself." She was born Alice Lee Roosevelt, the only daughter of Theodore Roosevelt (26th U.S. President) and his first wife Alice Hathaway Lee at 6 West 57th St, The family mansion in New York City. Her mother died two days after her birth of Bright's disease, a kidney ailment. Her father simply abandoned her until his remarriage to Edith Carrow when she was reunited at age three through the insistence of her new step mother to the family. Alice had been living with her care taker Aunt. Her education was minimal; however, she rejected religion and remained a nonbeliever for her entire life. At the time her father became President, she was still a teenager. She shattered precedents in an era when women conformed to a strict code of conduct. She roamed the halls of the Executive mansion smoking and danced the fox trot publicly with a cigarette dangling from her lips which gained national attention. Her father banned smoking in the White House but she countered by indulging on the roof. She drove her own car and was the belle of the ball when fully clothed, she plunged into the swimming pool. Alice was seen placing bets at local racetracks then in public wearing a boa constrictor around her neck. She set off firecrackers on the White House lawn and on a rail trip, shot at telegraph pole insulators with a pistol. Romance would enter her life while living in the White House and she would marry Nicholas Longworth, a Congressman from Ohio, in a dazzling White House wedding. Her residence became the family home in Cincinnati when not in Washington. She would return to the Capitol upon the death of her husband setting up residency on Massachusetts Avenue which would be her home until her own death from emphysema and other old age symptoms in her decaying mansion, alone, at age 96, .An author, Alice and Eleanor were competing newspaper columnists, but Alice's "Capitol Comment" column was no match for her famous cousin's "My Day" and it was eventually cancelled. In 1932, she penned her autobiography, "Crowded Hours." In deference to her favorite color gray-blue, the song "Alice Blue Gown" was written. It became a hit song and sheet music sold as fast as printing allowed. She was a popular figure at public events during her entire life... she bore witness to the test flight of a Wright brothers biplane prototype in 1909 and was the 1926 California Rose Bowl Queen. After declining a dress rehearsal, Alice missed the bow repeatedly with the champagne bottle launch ceremony for the namesake nuclear submarine "Theodore Roosevelt," at Mare Island, San Francisco. Enjoy Alice Blue Gown!
About the author
Bill Stricklin is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar who earned his AB with honors Phi Beta Kappa at University of California, Berkeley. He was elected President of the University of California's Young Republicans, elected Cal student body president and selected as the outstanding cadet of the United States Army ROTC program at UC Berkeley, trained at Fort Lewis; Infantry Officer Training School, Fort Benning, Georgia; Cold War spy- craft Counterintelligence cloak-and-dagger training at Fort Holabird, serving six years active and reserve, followed by a doctor of laws JD degree at Harvard Law School. Bill received a call from Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon's Whittier boyhood pal Dr. Stanley Eugene McCaffrey, asking Bill to serve as the night-shift Correspondence Assistant to then-Vice President Nixon during the final 18 months of the Eisenhower-Nixon Administration, to research and answer letters, nothing about politics. Vice President Nixon received up to 500 letters daily impossible for Nixon to read them all, much less to answer. Bill's desk adjoined that of Press Secretary Herb Klein in the Old Senate Office Building, across the hall from the offices of Senator John Kennedy. Staffs shared a private elevator, traded gossip and became respectful friends despite their employers' competition while seeking the United States Presidency. Bill had a ringside seat to talk with people who came into the office expecting to see the Vice President. "Alice Blue Gown" is the tale of a 75-year-old friend of Pat and Richard Nixon I met in his Old Senate Office Building offices. Pat Nixon told Alice Longworth, the subject of this book, that a huge leather chair that she had enjoyed in her father's White House Presidential West Sitting Hall was moved into her husband's offices - where I worked.

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