White House Fun: Living It Up at the Best Public Housing in America

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“Just about every president and his family left some sort of mark on the White House,” Anthony says. “And each one enjoyed it in a unique way. And the contrasts in personalities are amazing.”

After office hours, the swinging begins. Andrew Jackson threw a wild bash in 1829. Some 8,000 packed the executive mansion. To get folks to leave, crews had to put bathtubs of orange juice and whiskey on the front lawn.

At another party, Teddy Roosevelt threw himself into a pool, fully dressed with a lit cigar.

Of course, acceptable mores change with the times. But Prohibition didn’t stop Warren Harding from serving alcoholic drinks to his buddies as they played poker in the Oval Office, Anthony says. His little parties featured a pink doll that shook and winked.

Dwight Eisenhower held stag poker nights in the Treaty Room after dining on wild game.

To be sure, Eisenhower had a romantic side, too. On Valentine’s Day he surprised Mamie by wearing his “love bug” boxer shorts embroidered with little hearts. Anthony reports the first lady enjoyed sharing their bed because she could “reach over and pat Ike on his old bald head.”

I know it is hard to think about some of our wizened old presidents having sex. But after all, the White House was their home, and these people had to learn to live on public display. One morning Harry Truman’s wife Bess told a White House staffer: “[W]e have a little problem … It’s the president’s bed. Do you think you can get fixed today? Two of the slats broke down during the night.”

Some first ladies didn’t need to be so coy. When reporters asked Betty Ford how often she expected to sleep with her husband Gerald after he became president, she responded, “As often as possible.”

No one has trouble believing that a strapping, young John F. Kennedy had a healthy, if not runaway, libido. Anthony has written extensively on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and says that she was well aware of his philandering and, yet, the first couple were still intimate.

At noontime each day, the Kennedys closed themselves off in their bedroom for an hour, a tradition that remained up until his assassination in 1963. “Before leaving the White House,” Anthony writes, “she placed a plaque on the bedroom mantel stating that she and her husband ‘lived’ in that room.”