Monday, November 13, 2006

Executive Office of the President, Washington

In 1990, I worked in this building, the Old Executive Office Building, now known as the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and originally the State War and Navy Building. It is the Executive Office of the President. Everything about it is massive, impressive. I remember the way the halls smelled, like fresh flowers and power. The black and white marble tiled floors and oak paneling. The massive oak doors and enormous windows. The Office of Communications, home of the Office of Presidential Speechwriting, was on the first floor, just around the corner from the entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue. I think it was Room 120. The carpet of the main office was blue and the telephone was a remnant of the Eisenhower administration. (The Clintons took them out and installed new, hi-tech phones.) When the phones rang, they went "ding-ding", like a doorbell - quiet and smooth like everything within the black wrought iron gates that surround the White House Complex. The trees were perfect. The lawn was perfect, mowed at night with silent mowers so as not to disturb the First Family and the White House Staff. The basement level had a Secret Service gift shop, where you could buy USSS baseball caps and patches. When a staff member departed, we held a party in the Indian Treaty Room, with glasses imprinted with the presidential seal and chilled beer in White House Mess trunks filled with ice. I liked to attend the departures and arrivals of the President on Marine One, on the South Lawn, especially at night when few if any spectators were there. It was -- magical.

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