Wednesday, May 24, 2017


From what I’ve learned, it’s apparent that the need for honoring our vets came from the women. Those who survived. It also began during and after the American Civil War. Both sides had a need to honor their dead. The women would mourn over the death of their husbands and lovers, sons and brothers, fathers and daughters. They’d decorate the graves. This is why it was first called: Decoration Day. Leave it to the women to start something to honor their heroes who’d stolen their hearts.

     A hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.

    The spontaneous gatherings of the women morphed into Memorial Day, and it was used as a means to unite the country, and was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

    It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays).
    In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war.

    Ms. Michael was the first to wear one, selling poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women.

    This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.
    The moral of this story: Behind every great man is an even greater woman!

Monday, May 1, 2017

White House China

George Washington

It's my understanding that Abigail Adams used whatever dishes were there, or what? I never did find that out, but there is a written note in her handwriting inviting a guest to one of the 'levees' as they were called. Dolley Madison's state china service was a hard-paste porcelain with gilt-relief. The plates were produced in 1814 at the Paris factory of Jean Nepomucene Hermann Nast.
    After the War of 1812, with the White House burning, etc, the Monroes had to refurnish and redecorate. First Lady Mrs. Monroe decorated in the French style. She was the first to have White House china created solely for the presidential use. The placesettings were manufactured in Paris. She was also the first to have an eagle as part of the design with a red, white, and blue banner displaying the words, "E Pluribus Unum", the national motto. There are five vignettes inside of the dark red border, representing agriculture, strength, commerce, science and arts.
James Monroe
Abraham Lincoln
    Another set wasn't ordered until the Polks moved in in 1845.  The service included a plain white design and gold trim, there is a shade of green border and a large flower in the center, like a pink wildflower.
    Mary Lincoln knew how to spend money. She would put Madonna to shame, I think. It was her mission to spruce up the White House and make it special to the world. She gave it some much needed updating and redecorating all the way from the family living quarters to the kitchen. She purchased china that was solely made in America.  She was very socially active and conscience of what it should look like, assuming that they won the war. The purple-red border called 'Solerino", later known as "Royal Purple", gave way to the center American bald eagle, which appears as if it were flying through the clouds. The Coat of Arms displayed on the bald eagle is glorious.
    When Mrs. Hayes moved in, she ordered the china to include the flora and fauna of North America as decoration. She used the same eagle and Coat of Arms motif for the center.
    In 1892, First Lady Caroline Harrison wanted new china that would be "symbolic and meaningful to Americans." She also had the Coat of Arms in the center, designed a goldenrod and corn motif etched in gold around a wide band of blue. There are also 44 stars for the number of states in the union and the corn is symbolic of her home state of Indiana. Mrs. Harrison was the First Lady to begin gathering and storing remnants of former chinaware in the White House. She died before it's delivery.
    First Lady Edith Roosevelt ordered Wedgeood china. It was white and highlighted the Great Seal of the United State for the first time. This was in the early 1900's.
Harry Truman
   Mrs. Wilson, Edith, chose Lenox, and it was in 1918. The china featured a deep ivory border surrounding a brighter ivory body and two bands of matte gold encrusted with stars, strips, and other motifs. The Seal of the president was raised in gold in the center of each piece. This was the first time that everyone at a State Dinner could eat off the same plate design plus it was decorated by American workmen.
    First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt found that by the time she'd moved in, the dishes were largely depleted. She ordered Lenox, also, and the year was 1933. They included a border of 48 stars, the presidential seal in enamel colors on an ivory body.  President Roosevelt liked nautical objects, the stars were set against a band of marine blue. The inner band was complemented with golden roses and feathers, which was reminiscent of the Roosevelt crest.
    The Truman's went through extensive renovations in the White House. First Lady Bess Truman ordered Lenox china in 1951. The pattern included a border of celadon green flanked by an etched gold band and a twenty-four karat gold rim on an ivory body. It included a raised gold presidential seal, surrounded by 48 gold stars.  After the war, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order to standardize the seal; he had the head of the eagle turned toward the olive branch, representing peace, instead of toward the arrows, representing war.
     First Lady Maimie Eisenhower only ordered service dinner plates to complete the set.
    First Lady Lady Bird Johnson determined that new china was needed. Her china featured American wild flowers and was manufactured in the United States by Castleton China. She featured the eagle that was first designed for the Monroe china. The wildflowers feature flowers from throughout the United States. That lady sure loved her wildflowers!
    First Lady Nancy Reagan was modeled after Woodrow Wilson's, featuring the seal in burnished gold on an ivory background with a border of scarlet. The service was manufactured by Lenox.
Ronald Reagan

   First Lady Hilary Clinton wanted to commemorate the 200 anniversary of the White House. The china included a border of pale, creamy yellow, rather than a brighter primary color, and images of the White House, instead of the customary seal. Each placesetting has a different pattern, with elements found in the various rooms of the White House.
   First Lady Laura Bush ordered from Lenox, too.  She chose a soft green pattern due to its versatility and ability to coordinate with flowers. The pattern was inspired by Dolley Madison's dishware.  The smaller White House Magnolia Pattern is now distributed throughout the United States through DeVine Corporation, and this is what was used in their private All of this information came from Google.  If you want to read more or see pictures Google China Room and White House China. There's two great Wikipedia sites. The best pictures of all is this link:    Give that a try, hopefully it'll work. This one has beautiful pictures, too.

George W. Bush

Truman china service 1967


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Edith Roosevelt

Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt

Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt was the second wife and First Lady of her childhood companion and the 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909).
Edith Kermit Carow knew Theodore Roosevelt from infancy; as a toddler she became a playmate of his younger sister Corinne. Born in Connecticut in 1861, daughter of Charles and Gertrude Tyler Carow, she grew up in an old New York brownstone on Union Square -- an environment of comfort and tradition. Throughout childhood she and "Teedie" were in and out of each other's houses.
Attending Miss Comstock's school, she acquired the proper finishing touch for a young lady of that era. A quiet girl who loved books, she was often Theodore's companion for summer outings at Oyster Bay, Long Island; but this ended when he entered Harvard. Although she attended his wedding to Alice Hathaway Lee in 1880, their lives ran separately until 1885, when he was a young widower with an infant daughter, Alice.
Putting tragedy behind him, he and Edith were married in London in December 1886. They settled down in a house on Sagamore Hill, at Oyster Bay, headquarters for a family that added five children in ten years: Theodore, Kermit, Ethel, Archibald, and Quentin. Throughout Roosevelt's intensely active career, family life remained close and entirely delightful. A small son remarked one day, "When Mother was a little girl, she must have been a boy!"

Public tragedy brought them into the White House, eleven days after President McKinley succumbed to an assassin's bullet. Assuming her new duties with characteristic dignity, Mrs. Roosevelt meant to guard the privacy of a family that attracted everyone's interest, and she tried to keep reporters outside her domain. The public, in consequence, heard little of the vigor of her character, her sound judgment, her efficient household management.
But in this administration the White House was unmistakably the social center of the land. Beyond the formal occasions, smaller parties brought together distinguished men and women from varied walks of life. Two family events were highlights: the wedding of "Princess Alice" to Nicholas Longworth, and Ethel's debut. A perceptive aide described the First Lady as "always the gentle, high-bred hostess; smiling often at what went on about her, yet never critical of the ignorant and tolerant always of the little insincerities of political life."

T.R. once wrote to Ted Jr. that "if Mother had been a mere unhealthy Patient Griselda I might have grown set in selfish and inconsiderate ways." She continued, with keen humor and unfailing dignity, to balance her husband's exuberance after they retired in 1909.
After his death in 1919, she traveled abroad but always returned to Sagamore Hill as her home. Alone much of the time, she never appeared lonely, being still an avid reader -- "not only cultured but scholarly," as T.R. had said. She kept till the end her interest in the Needlework Guild, a charity which provided garments for the poor, and in the work of Christ Church at Oyster Bay. She died on September 30, 1948, at the age of 87.
During her time as FL, she was instrumental in changing the private residence. Security was lax and people would wander into the private residence so she removed the presidential staff from the second floor. She was also involved with the 1902 renovation and addition of the West Wing which gave it the classical look, and on the ground floor, the gallery of the First Ladies collection.
The biographies of the First Ladies on are from “The First Ladies of the United States of America,” by Allida Black. Copyright 2009 by the White House Historical Association.

Alice Roosevelt