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Oct 19, 2023 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association released a new episode of The White House 1600 Sessions podcast today featuring a conversation with Susan Ford Bales, daughter of President Gerald R. Ford and First Lady Betty Ford, about her time in the White House. Stewart McLaurin, president of the Association, had the unique opportunity to take Bales back to the only place she called home before living in the White House. It was in the family’s Alexandria, Virginia home where she answered the phone when President Richard Nixon called to offer her father the job of Vice President. In the episode, McLaurin and Bales returned to the now privately owned, landmarked house for a conversation about her role in carrying on her parents’ legacy.

“The Ford family’s home is an historic landmark not just for White House history and the Ford family, but for the American family as well,” said McLaurin. “This essentially was the White House while the Nixon family moved out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

The Ford family moved into the Alexandria house in the 1950s while Ford served as a U.S. Congressman from Michigan. It was where Bales was brought home from the hospital as a baby, and where she and her three older brothers grew up celebrating birthdays and holidays, swimming in the backyard, and eating family dinners. President Ford’s time in Alexandria was a transformational juncture as he went from congressman to vice president and ultimately president.

McLaurin and Bales also discussed the enduring legacy of her parents far beyond the time spent they spent in the White House. Bales worked very closely with her mother on raising awareness about breast cancer after Betty Ford publicly discussed her battle with the disease - unheard of in 1974. The first lady also worked to raise awareness about addiction and mental health after her own battle with alcohol and prescription drugs.

“I have never seen two people become such soulmates and work together as a couple during that difficult period because the whole family was affected,” said Bales. “I want my parents to be remembered for their honesty, integrity and what they did for the country—not just my dad, but both my parents.”

One of the most popular times for people to know about life in the White House is Christmas. This year the Association’s Official 2023 White House Christmas Ornament features decorations inspired by the handcrafted decorations used in the White House during the Ford administration as well as major moments in President Ford’s life. The ornament can be purchased at https://shop.whitehousehistory.org/.

The full video of this podcast episode is also on the White House Historical Association’s YouTube channel here.

The White House 1600 Sessions podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

For more information, please contact press@whha.org.

The White House 1600 Sessions

White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin is the host of The White House 1600 Sessions, the Association’s official audio and video podcast devoted to exploring the history, cultural impact, untold stories, and personal accounts of America’s most iconic residence and highest office.

P.D.F. Resources

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $115 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit WhiteHouseHistory.org.

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