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Image: “Mamie’s Army” cartoon, 1952.

When a new president goes in there, he doesn’t know his way around, and he’s watching you. And you must assure him—you must assure him by body language—that you have no interest other than in him, in the presidency. You don’t care who’s president—you’re working for the public. You’re a servant to the public, just like he is.

Alonzo Fields, chief butler and maître d’, 1931-53


“Mamie’s Army” cartoon, 1952. As the wife of a former general, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower was likewise regarded as a military commander. This December 1952 newspaper cartoon illustrates the roughly 90 White House workers who would become “Mamie’s Army” when the Eisenhowers moved into the White House in January 1953. Lima (Ohio) News



Image: The Hardings say their goodbyes, 1923.

The Hardings say their goodbyes, 1923. Preparing to embark on a cross-country journey in June 1923, First Lady Florence Harding and President Warren G. Harding bid farewell to the White House staff. This would be the last time Harding was at the White House. He died in San Francisco on August 2, 1923, and Vice President Calvin Coolidge completed his term of office.

Library of Congress


Image: The Eisenhowers and staff exchange farewells, 1961.

The Eisenhowers and staff exchange farewells, 1961. On their final day in the White House, January 20, 1961, President and Mrs. Eisenhower exchange farewells with members of the staff. Lillian Rogers Parks, who retired just before the Eisenhowers left, observed, “When the old family goes out, you felt lost for just that flash. And then at 12 o’clock, when the other family comes in, you took on a new perspective. You just had to turn over; you had to forget those folks and start over.”

Edward Clark, reprinted with permission of National Geographic Society



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