Instead of sharing recipes this week I thought I would share our evening at the White House.
This past weekend, Mike and I were in Washington, D.C., for the National Governor’s Association conference. On Sunday evening, all of the governors were invited to the White House for dinner. It was a beautiful evening as we entered East Executive Avenue and walked up the steps through the formation of all the state flags as the United States Marine Band played.
We passed more state flags as we walked along the long colonnade by the gardens. As we entered the White House, we were greeted by the sweet music of a harp and flute, played by Marines. We roamed the ground floor rooms in the main house and met and talked to other governors and their spouses, or sometimes their daughters or mothers. We walked through the Vermeil Room, with all the portraits of first ladies, and the library full of special American books. (I remember reading that these rooms were originally laundry and storage rooms.)
After we picked up our seating card, we walked up the stairs into the main hall. The Marine Band dressed in their beautiful red uniforms were seated and playing tunes from “My Fair Lady.” We chatted with more governors about what was going on in their states, and I found lots of Ohio connections among the spouses — a Miami graduate, a Denison graduate, some from Troy and Toledo.
We lined up in the Green Room and I noticed immediately that Benjamin Franklin’s portrait was missing from over the fireplace and replaced by the portrait of Edith Kermit Roosevelt. I learned that Franklin’s portrait was getting a little repair. The flowers are always stunning in the White House, and there were beautiful arrangements of purple flowers, maybe violas, on the tables. We walked into the Blue Room to have our picture taken with the president and first lady. Melania wore a beautiful “tux-like” dress — black skirt, black cummerbund and white top with cute tucks and a collar.
We sat down to a very elegant table in the State Dining Room under the portrait of Abraham Lincoln. The table was decorated with beautiful white flower arrangements of hydrangeas and tulips. We ate on the very elegant Obama State China. I was seated next to the new governor of Georgia and next to him was First Lady Melania.
After dinner, we were invited to go into the East Room for the entertainment. Jenene Caramielo, an accomplished opera, jazz and pop musician, sang a beautiful song from the opera “La Traviata.” Then she sang “I Could Have Danced All Night” from “My Fair Lady,” and “Memory” from “Cats.” She was joined by the United States Marine Chamber Orchestra in “A Patriotic Medley” featuring “God Bless the USA” (Lee Greenwood) and “God Bless America” (Irving Berlin).
As we left the White House at the end of the evening, we received a small White House coin. On the back of it was the White House prayer as written by John Adams and inscribed on the mantle in the State Dining Room: “I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”
Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native, First Lady of Ohio and guest columnist.