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Preston Bruce, c. 1970. Preston Bruce, the son of a sharecropper and barber from South Carolina, served as a White House doorman from 1953 to 1976. Expert at smoothly facilitating the seating process at state dinners, Bruce designed the “Bruce Table,” featuring a slanted top at just the right height for arranging and distributing guests’ place cards.

Courtesy Preston Bruce, Jr., and Elaine Bruce Pryor
Alonzo Fields. When Alonzo Fields first started working at the White House in 1931, he discovered there were “separate dining rooms—black and white. We all worked together, but we couldn’t eat together. . . . Here in the White House, I’m working for the President. This is the home of the democracy of the world and I’m good enough to handle the President’s food—to handle the President’s food and do everything—but I cannot eat with the [white] help.”

Book cover: My 21 Years in the White House, 1961. Coward-McCann
Notification of Personnel Action, 1948. In 1948, longtime chief butler and maître d’ Alonzo Fields received a raise of $330 (or 12.6 percent) in his annual salary. Fields helped ensure that White House employees received compensatory time off when they worked more than eight hours a day.

Courtesy Mayland Fields



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