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Image: Preparing desserts at a state dinner, 1965.
Image: Rockwood Peyton vacuuming the Blue Room, 1983.
I thought I knew how to serve. But the White House is different. Other places you can make mistakes and you don’t feel so bad; but you don’t feel like making mistakes for the president and first lady.

Eugene Allen - pantryman, butler, maître d’
1952-86
Preparing desserts at a state dinner, 1965. Behind the scenes at a state dinner in honor of Ludwig Erhard, Chancellor of West Germany, White House workers prepare the desserts and liqueurs. Butler Norwood Williams observed, “Everyone works like a team. You have a crew that comes in and moves furniture and sets up tables; you have the cleaning staff, the storeroom person, the chefs, the flower shop; even the carpenter’s shop—they had to make some of those tables. You know how everyone pitches in at a circus? That’s the way it’s done!”

White House Historical Association




Rockwood Peyton vacuuming the Blue Room, 1983. After vacuuming, Rockwood Peyton might have used a small push broom to brush the wool nap in the same direction. During the Eisenhower administration, the White House residence staff carefully walked around the carpets, so as not to disturb the brush finish.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library





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