Tall Tales About Living and Working in The White House

Of course, we think the best way to learn about White House history is to take a Pickle Pea Walk in Washington, DC.  But, we do realize there are other, very delightful ways to get a look-see into life and work at the White House. And in our research for the walks, we have discovered some very good reads that help with this endeavor and are also great fun. Here are a few of these.

Books Our Quentin Roosevelt Would Love: 

Simply Father, Life with Theodore Roosevelt As Seen Through The Eyes of His Children by Toby Selda - Published by Eastern National in 2005

This is such a clever and inviting book. It’s written in the collective voice of all of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt’s six children (often called the Roosevelt half dozen).  And they are very good storytellers!  But then they had so much to use as fodder for their stories. Their lives were vibrant and fun! After all, their father was Theodore Roosevelt! Enough said! It has been reported that Edith once called TR “ --- her oldest and rather worst child!” 

The book is a wonderful opportunity to peer into the world of this most energetic family! And, it’s also your chance to catch a look at “our” Quentin with bangs and long curls!

We really enjoyed seeing the picture letters from TR to his children that are in the book. Check them out.  

Simply Sagamore, The Roosevelt Family Home as Seen Through the Eyes of Daughter Ethel by Toby Selda

This is Ms. Selda’s new book just waiting to be published! Pickle Pea Walks team members have read the draft --- and we love it!!

Sangamore Hill 2018.jpg

The setting is late August, 1905. This was the last summer all the Roosevelt children would be living together. So there was much energy around who would be going where, doing what. At the same time much was spinning in the world and a lot of it was spinning right there at Sagamore Hill. So what better time to take an intimate look into the comings and goings at the Roosevelt Family’s famous summer address. The Roosevelt children enjoyed living here more than anywhere they ever lived, even the White House!

We can’t wait for this book to be published!!  Watch for it!

Books Our Liz Carpenter DID Love:

Ruffles & Flourishes by Liz Carpenter – Published by Texas A&M University Press in 1993

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Liz Carpenter  (nee Elizabeth Sutherland) hailed from Salado, Texas and was a true “character” of the highest degree! She was often the magic behind President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady Lady Bird Johnson because she got things done! She could convince anyone to do whatever she requested. That is except the dogs! They weren’t so interested in what Liz wanted. Be sure to check out the Dog Days at the White House chapter in the book. It’s hysterical!!  Ruffles & Flourishes is Liz’s personal telling of her own delightful story. 

Books Our John Ousley Would Love:

All the Presidents’ Gardens by Marta McDowell  - Published by Timber Press in 2016, Winner of a 2017 American Horticultural Society Book Award.

George Washington, our first president, was obsessed with collecting trees. First Lady Michelle Obama, our    first lady, was passionate about her vegetable garden. And, in between we had Madison's cabbages Lincoln's goats, Ike's putting green, Kennedy's roses and Amy Carter's tree house, all on the White House grounds! That’s a lot of history! 

Marta knew these eighteen acres of land (often called our country’s First Garden) had seen American history at its best and at it worst.  What a lovely vantage point for watching history go by. In her book she reveals the history of our nation as it’s reflected in the White House lawns, trees, shrubs, and flowerbeds.

A Garden for the President, A History of the White House Grounds by Jonathan Pliska – Published by The White House Historical Association in 2016

The book focuses on the design of the White House grounds and the many ways in which this lovely space been used over the years. Jonathan is especially interested in the cultivation of specimen trees and the vegetable and ornamental gardens that have served the White House home over the years. 

White House Garden Mixed Flowers.jpeg

Rumor has it that Jonathan so valued good research for the book that he created growing beds around his home in Baltimore. And in these beds he grew antique varieties of herbs, vegetables and flowers that would have been especially familiar to the nation’s early presidents. Remember, many of our Founding Fathers were farmers. 

The book has lots of illustrations, especially some interesting historical images.