Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Contemporary Ladies of the White House

Ladies in Red

1. Maime Doud Eisenhower, Ike's wife, I got more of a feel for her personality from visiting their home in Eisenhower National Historic Site in Gettysburg.  She just seemed to be a positive and joyful person to be around.  It can't be easy being married to a general but if you had to pick one, who didn't like Ike. Eisenhower was named one of the twelve best dressed women in the country by the New York Dress Institute every year that she was First Lady. 

 National History Museum

 Eisenhower Gettysburg Residence Museum

  Eisenhower Gettysburg Residence Museum

2. Laura Bush radiated in red and the man she married, George W. Bush III always seems to be smiling in her presence. So I am guessing she is also a wonderful wife.

Women who wowed in white

3. Nancy Reagan always had a polished look, perhaps it came from her Hollywood years. She was the second wife of Ronald Reagan and it always seemed like with that couple, he met his match.

4. Michele Obama's legacy is yet to be determined, I have always admired her and her wit. She seems to be a super mom. The most memorable tour of the White House grounds was when she was traveling in a loop with James Corden and shared her karaoke skills (she's really good).  She was always a good sport and supporter of her man, former President Barrack Obama. She is a a big proponent for exercise with her Let's Move initiative and she practiced what she preached. She is a great "Girl Power" Ambassador.

5. Barbara Bush in royal blue can claim wife and mother of a President of the United States. That's not something everyone can put on their resume. To date, she and I believe Abigail Adams are the only two who can proclaim this fame.

6. Rosalynn Carter also chose a lighter shade of blue chiffon to wear to the Governors Ball in Georgia.

7. Hillary Clinton wore a New York designed blue velvet dress with a violet beaded sheath to the Inaugural Ball following the swearing in of her husband President Bill Clinton.

8. Betty Ford, wife of former President Gerald Ford, campaigned for Equal Rights and brought breast cancer out in the open.  She also led awareness to the struggle of alcohol and drug addition. She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal (co-presentation with her husband, Gerald R. Ford, October 21, 1998) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (presented 1991 by George H. W. Bush). Gerald Ford was her second husband.

9. Lady Bird Johnson wore a golden color with cape sleeves of fur. I like the look but I wonder what animal rights activists today would have thought of that? It used to be a fashion.

10. Jackie "O" Jacqueline Kennedy was the fashion icon of the Twentieth Century Presidential Wives to date. It is nearly impossible to compete with her style. It must have been her French roots.

 Just around the corner from the First Ladies Dresses is an African American exhibit. Ann Cole Lowe the first African American woman to operate a couture dress salon on Madison Avenue in New York designed the wedding gown of former first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy when she married John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Repeating yesterday's references:

After writing this blog, I discovered the National First Ladies Library website, I was looking for a confirmation on Dolley Madison. I may get some of my facts misconstrued but they have obviously done their homework and would be a great reference to use.  It looks like an excellent research site to delve more into the lives of the Presidents First Ladies.  All of my information and photographs of the dresses came from a recent trip to the Smithsonian National History Museum. It is still a favorite Smithsonian but they are all great! I have learned things about the First Ladies I never knew.

March is Women's History Month

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Washington D.C. First Lady Fashions through History

1. Martha Washington along with her husband were possibly one of the wealthiest couples but they never lived on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. George was Martha's second husband and she already had a plentiful purse of her own, although her dress reflects a more simple and modest design.

It may not seem like the most beautiful gown in the collection but the early years in our country were simpler times.  The description does say painted on silk, I imagine that would have cost a pretty penny.  The first one cent coin was not struck until 1787. What was the currency before that time? It wasn't beads but this elegant necklace states Martha could afford to dress it up.

2. Dolley or Dolly Madison was one of the most popular First Ladies. She even pitched in during Jefferson's presidency as hostess at White House events. Congress always welcomed her to sit in on their sessions, as she was given an honorary seat on the floor of Congress. Her biggest claim to fame was, no, not, Dolley Madison ice cream, she saved the portrait of George Washington during the burning of the White House by the British during the War of 1812. She also was the First Lady and American citizen to respond to the telegraph. James Madison was Dolley's second husband, her first husband, John Todd and their three month old son died of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia.

Todd House in Philadelphia (1791-1793) open for tours

Montpelier Madison Home 1817-1837

Through the irresponsible behavior of Dolley's son, the Madison's became financially challenged. After the death of her husband, James Madison, the estate of Montpelier fell into hard times and was lost. Dolley later sold writings of James Madison to Congress in two separate installments, the first for $55,000 and the next for $22-$25,000. James Madison, a Founding Father often referred to as the Father on the Constitution, Father of the Bill of Rights, Secretary of State who worked closely with Jefferson on the Louisiana Purchase and also followed fellow Virginian, Mr. Jefferson into the White House. Imagine what a budget of $75-$80,000 would buy today.

1837 - 1849 Lafayette Square, Washington D.C.

3. Mary Todd Lincoln loved purple, it is a royal color and not stunning on everyone. Mary Todd Lincoln gets a rough write up in history books. Let some of those recorders of history go through what that woman went through and take another shot at it.  I hope she felt some sort of royalty living in the White House during some of the most tumultuous years in her life and in the history of the Untied States. I hope to show you her serving ware during her White House years in a further blog. Yup, you guessed it's purple.

4. Julia Grant chose American-made clothes becoming to her person and her purse. I too have trouble shopping for perfect fit clothes, so the price helps me to decide. I like her style and sounds like I admire her sassy as well. Grant could not have been an easy man to be connected to with all he had going on, in general.

After her husband's retirement, he became involved with his son's financial business.  Another partner was involved in the Wall Street venture and swindled all of Grant's money. Grant suffered and died from cancer in 1884 but before he died he wrote a memoir. After his death, Mark Twain's publishing company published the Memoirs and it became a best seller of the times. Julia died in 1902 and yes, you guessed it. Julia is buried along side her husband in Grant's Tomb in New York.

5. Lovely things were written about Lucy Webb Hayes. She had a distinct and unflattering personal style. Isn't that the nicest thing you can say about a woman? She favored modest clothing that covered her throat and arms. Tell you what, I'm with her. Critics save yourself the self awareness now, "if you have it", you don't flaunt it. This gown is a bit busy and distracting but who am I to judge. It does attract attention. The details alone are compelling.  Can you imagine the red carpet hosts, the buttons, the bows, the lace and brocade , the satin.. layers, folds. lines, floral design, the train.... She wore it twice and credits her dressmaker M.A. Connelly of New York.  Someday we may see a knock off of this design on the runway at New York Fashion Week. Many styles come back to haunt us.  Why did I ever discard that hand-made knit poncho my grandmother made for me?

6. Caroline Scott Harrison helped to establish the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and became the first President General of the DAR. She also had the First National Christmas Tree in the White House and had electricity installed, although she was hesitant to touch the switch. She was also responsible for managing to eradicate the rodent and insect problem at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue which I am sure future First Ladies were eternally grateful.

I like her dress, I only wish I had the waistline to wear it! Her inaugural gown and the rest of her wardrobe were Made in the United States.

7. Frances Cleveland was the fashion icon of the 1800's. She sure looks like the most attractive first lady of the time but it could very well have been just her youth that made her look so stunning. She was 21 years old when she married Grover Cleveland, twenty eight years her senior in the White House. To date, it is the only time a president was married in the White House.

"False story" is what they called it way back when... there was a claim she abandoned dresses with bustles and that hastened its demise. Whoever was responsible, thank you. Women still have way too much to do to shimmy into that little black dress.  We are still waiting for that woman in the White House that wants to burn the bra. Huzzah!

8. Edith Roosevelt wore a Robin egg blue silk dress with a design of plumes and birds woven in gold thread seems befitting for the wife of Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt, the intense nature lover.

9. 1915 - 1921 Edith Wilson, I must admit my ignorance for I knew nothing about this remarkable woman. First off her dress and style of fashion was my favorite.  It could easily pass as elegant for generations to come, it came from Paris, the House of Worth. 

Edith was the second wife of President Woodrow Wilson. She is a direct descendant of Pocahontas. Her great-grandmother was a sister to Thomas Jefferson, she was also related to Martha Washington and Robert E. Lee, a select group of Virginians. When her husband suffered a stroke while in office, she took over additional duties and decided what information was to make it to the President. She examined each correspondence carefully in making those decisions. Was she our first female president?  A Republican senator labeled her "the Presidentress who had fulfilled the dream of the suffragettes by changing her title from First Lady to Acting First Man." Shrug, I like the way see addressed the situation.

10. Grace Coolidge 1923- 1929 representing the flapper era. I prefer the blue dress, it is my favorite color. The style during those days just seemed to be so fun and carefree. No one suspected what was to follow, the Great Depression. Seeing that she gave her dress to her maid, I would have to say she had style and grace.

First Ladies hardly ever receive the recognition or notoriety they deserve and we have had some remarkable women living in the White House. It is not really about their fashions is it? Although everyone talks about what "she" was wearing. Shouldn't it be more about how she handled those years in the Executive Mansion?  Did she wear those years in the White House well and serve with dignity? I think anyone reading their history would be hard pressed to find one who did not fulfill her obligation to our country. I call these gals the golden age and pioneer women setting the stage for tomorrow's ladies.

After writing this blog, I discovered the National First Ladies Library website, I was looking for a confirmation on Dolley Madison. I may get some of my facts misconstrued but they have obviously done their homework and would be a great reference to use.  It looks like an excellent research site to delve more into the lives of the Presidents First Ladies.  All of my information and photographs of the dresses came from a recent trip to the Smithsonian National History Museum. It is still a favorite Smithsonian but they are all great! I learned some things about the First Ladies. I never knew.

March is Women's History Month

Monday, March 20, 2017

Events Starting March 20

🌷🌷🌷🌷March 20 The First Day of Spring.

In case you missed it, on Sadder Day the Villanova Wildcats were badgered. I have a touch of the March Madness. How about you?  Are you blue?

March 20 - April 16 National Cherry Blossom Festival Peak Prediction March 19 - 22 which is changing all the time keep up to date

March 20 Middletown Township Historical Society Middletown Mondays presents a lecture and book signing with Andrew Miller "Williamson School of the Trades in History 7 p.m. at Lima Estates 411 North Middletown Rd in Media. Free and open to the public.

March 21 Springfield Historical Society presents "A History of the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company" 7:30 p.m. at the Springfield Township Building, 50 Powell Road.

March 22 Free Health Event "Colorectal Cancer:The Preventable Disease". at Crozer-Keystone located at 30 Lawrence Road in Broomall. 5:30 p.m. Pizza and 6 p.m. Presentation. Prevention and screening options will be discussed. 

March 22 Free Webinar Palliative Care Myth VS Facts 7 p.m. sponsored by Colon Cancer Alliance. Register.

March 23 Year of 1,000 Cranes Origami Community Workshop for Peace at the Middletown Free Library 10:30 a.m.

March 23 Our American Presidents at the Middletown Free Library 2 p.m. featuring George Washington Part 3. Register to attend.

March 23  The Life of Alexander Hamilton at Marple Library Part 2 His role in shaping our Constitution, The Federalist and the Treasury- 6:30 p.m. presented by local historian and teacher Roger Arthur.
Register Ahead.

🍸March 23 – Colonial “Cocktails” Tavern Talks takes place at the Chadds Ford Historical Society’s Barns Brinton House, an historic 1714 tavern, located next to the Chaddsford Winery at 630 Baltimore Pike. Admission is $20 for non-members and $15 for members. Tickets must be purchased in advance over the phone, in person or online as space is limited. All attendees must be 21 and older from 7-9 p.m.

March 25 Bird Walk at Newlin Grist Mill 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 

March 25 "Stand Up" for a cause. Haverford Alliancefor Drug awareness presents Stand Up for Recovery 7:30 Everett Hall at Sacred Heart Church Manoa and Wilson Roads in Havertown. Tickets $10 in advance, $15 at the didoor.  The show begins at 7:30 p.m. 

March 25 Comprehensive Screening Event at Media Medical Imaging located at 200 E. State St. Suit 200 in Media 8:30 a.m. to 11;30 a.m. More than 10 free health screening will be available. Free continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and screenings begin at 9 a.m.

March 25 For those interested in becoming part of “Remembering the Forgotten Generation in Delco,” please join the group at the Aston Community Center on Saturday March 25th 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Click here for instructions of the location of the Community Center.  POPPY PACKETS at next Delco World War I 100th Centennial Committee Meeting.

March 26 Starting of Delco Remembrances is a “World War I and America Reading and Discussion Group” with upcoming meetings at the Haverford Library on Darby Road in Havertown on March 26 and April 23rd at 2:00 pm. The discussions will be moderated by Historian Katie Sibley and  English Professor and Veteran Owen Gilman on various topics concerning the Great War. The Library will also "remember" at ”Memorabilia Night” at 7:00 on Wednesday, April 12. Community members and organizations are invited to bring and share their World War I attic finds. Click here for more information.

Remembering the Forgotten Generation. Pick up and Plant Poppies. Click on the poppies link to see the locations giving out the seeds.

March 26 Rose Valley Furniture : A Close Up Look at the Rose Valley Museum at Thunderbird Lodge 41 Rose Valley Road. Tickets $20 for non-members and $15 for membersof the museum. RSVP to Sue Keilbaugh 484.444.2961 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Happening at my House Today - The Prep

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. Grants Dispensation from the Obligation to Abstain from Meat on Memorial of Saint Patrick

Corn Beef and Cabbage

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

An apology to my Catholic descendants and all those that may have taken offense..I never knew.
Serving a bowl of carrots on one of the joyous and holiest days in a Irish-Catholic household is an insult.  The orange color of the carrots acknowledges the Orangemen. When I read this I thought, isn't it time to let that kind of stuff go? Then I thought, how would I know. My grandmother was very bitter when her sister ran off and got married and forced her to take the ticket to America. That decision actually shielded so many of my aunts, uncles and cousins from experiencing "the troubles". How fortunate we are to live in a country of religious freedom!
I did serve carrots, I like carrots, but decorated them heavily with green beans on top.