The Washington Times-Herald

Community News Network

November 14, 2012

At a White House Thanksgiving, tradition is a presidential thing

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

In the not-so-calorie-conscious early 1930s, Eleanor Roosevelt talked about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's love of oyster stew and browned sausages as Thanksgiving Day mainstays. The Roosevelts' Thanksgiving chestnut stuffing recipe called for roasting the nuts in "fat" (though it doesn't say what kind), sauteing celery and onions in bacon fat, then tossing it all in melted butter: an artery-clogging trifecta.

But by 1946, in the fresh aftermath of World War II, a measure of caloric restraint was restored. Come Thanksgiving, Harry Truman's housekeeper, Mary E. Sharpe, was said to be counting presidential calories, and the White House menu kicked off dutifully with clear bouillon and curled celery.

For Ronald and Nancy Reagan, the dutiful requirements had to do with scheduling. Their Thanksgiving wasn't the extended feasting and football-watching fest of the Obamas, who have celebrated each year at the White House, making them the first presidential family to have their Thanksgiving meal at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since Gerald Ford's. The Reagans wanted family members to arrive at their Santa Barbara ranch at precisely 5 p.m., their son, Michael Reagan, says. Dinner was served at 6, followed by coffee and dessert, and all but one or two overnight guests would be out by 8 p.m. No lingering.

Joke swapping was a Reagan family Thanksgiving tradition, Michael Reagan says. While his father was running for president, Michael says, he told his father a joke that made fun of Poles and Italians. Reagan liked it so much that he retold it to a group of reporters who did what reporters do — they reported it — leading to a brief but intense flash of controversy and a hasty apology.

The Reagans' meal was always prepared by Ann Allman, the family's longtime California housekeeper and cook, rather than the White house chefs or — certainly not — the first lady. "Nancy didn't cook," Michael Reagan says. "Nancy? We didn't let her boil water."

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Is this a commercial for batting gloves or a baseball game?

    Major league baseball desperately needs to speed up the action. Here's a place to start: Nix the mind-numbing ritual of hitters who first adjust the right batting glove, then the left one, after every single pitch.
     

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Simpsons still going strong

    The groundbreaking animation first hit the air Dec. 17, 1989, but the family first appeared on television in "The Tracey Ullman Show" short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987.

    August 21, 2014

  • Does Twitter need a censor?

    Twitter decided last year to make images more prominent on its site. Now, the social network is finding itself caught between being an open forum and patrolling for inappropriate content.

    August 21, 2014

  • Police chief resigns over racial slur repost to Facebook

    A repost on his personal Facebook page of a racially-charged comment by the original poster of a comedy video has forced the police chief of an Oklahoma city to resign his office.

    August 21, 2014

  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014