And so it came to pass that a loyal reader contacted me out of the blue and invited me and five friends to the White House.
Three times a year, this reader told me, they open the White House grounds to the public. Anyone can go, tickets are free and first come first serve. But through her work, she is able to bring up to six guests, no waiting in line, no tickets needed.
We circled the South Lawn and listened to the Navy band play. We spied the presidential swimming pool through the bushes, passed the tennis court and the putting green. We walked on the runners track that Clinton had installed around the lawn. And just when we thought the presidency was just about a sweet home and abundand leisure activities, we were able to see the Cabinet Room and the Oval Office from the outside.
Of course, Sam and I were able to recognize the layout of the West Wing from our tour in December. We are getting to be experts.
We waited in line to see the Children’s Garden, which Mrs. Johnson had installed – a quiet, reflective area with a fish pool and the hand prints of all the presidential grandchildren. Seeing all those Bush grandkids (Barbara and Jenna are in there, as the grandkids of Bush the elder) it really starts to dawn on you – they’re not growing a dynasty, they’re creating an empire!
Truly, it was an honor and a privilege to see the White House from so close, and walk the garden paths that such powerful and important people have walked before us. I want to thank our patron, who suggested it and allowed us to cut the queue, and I want to encourage all of you to give me suggestions of other places to try out…and if you can throw in some free passes, all the better!