An evening at the White House

By Fran DeWine

Two weekends ago was the National Governors Association Conference in Washington D.C. It was very busy and very exciting!

As soon as we landed we went straight to the vice president’s home. It is a beautiful Victorian home sitting on a hill at the Naval Observatory. The home had been the Admiral’s House until Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Before that there was no official residence for the vice president; they lived in their own homes. In a short program before lunch, Mrs. Pence talked about supporting our military spouses so that they can get jobs when they move to a new base. She gave a shout out to Mike for signing a bill recognizing the licenses of military spouses from other states, so teachers and nurses can get jobs when they move to Ohio. After the vice president spoke we had a nice, casual lunch with time to talk to the Pences, as well as other governors and spouses.

Friday night we attended another lovely dinner, held at the beautiful old Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, close to the White House. President Trump was the speaker; it was quite interesting to hear him talk to the governors! Sitting next to me was Ed Cox. I told him I felt like I had attended his wedding — along with about everyone else who was young in 1971 and read the magazines when he married Tricia Nixon at the White House!

On Saturday, while Mike was at meetings with other governors, I traveled to Annapolis to visit the capitol of Maryland, and have a delightful lunch with Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan at the Government House, the residence of the governor. The house, originally built in 1868 with many renovations and additions since, is just across the street from the state capitol. The capitol was beautiful with its original wooden dome. It is where General George Washington resigned his commission in the Continental Army. He had commanded the Continental Army through eight long years of America’s war for independence.

Saturday night we traveled to the Korean Ambassador’s Residence, where we enjoyed meeting lots of people and sampling Korean food.

Sunday night was the Governor’s Ball at the White House. It really was magnificent. I wore my red inaugural gown, with a long black velvet cape I made years ago to wear to a Ronald Reagan Christmas party at the White House. We walked into the East Entrance of the White House and down the long colonnade lined with the flags of every state. At the end of the colonnade we entered the original four walls of the White House, into the beautiful ground floor. Along the hall were portraits of Laura Bush and other first ladies. On the right was the library — one of Mike’s favorite rooms, and to the left was the First Ladies’ Lounge with portraits of Eleanor Roosevelt and other first ladies. After checking our coats and picking up our table assignments, we walked up the staircase to the main floor and the Grand Foyer. The room was decorated with beautiful, tall urns overflowing with green-white hydrangeas and cascading white spirea branches. We walked through the Red Room to have our photo taken in the Blue Room with the president and first lady.

Then we proceeded to the East Room. The room was really incredible with more of the urns of green and white flowers, round and oblong tables with soft green tablecloths, and flower arrangements of white sweet peas, spirea and green foliage. A combination of White House china was used for different courses, all in soft golds and yellow. We were served cappelletti with young spinach, and parmesan tomato ragout for a first course. Then we had a lovely herb-crusted sea bass for the main course. The dessert was entitled “America the Beautiful”— layered chocolate brownie, brandied banana ice cream and cinnamon arlette wafer. The president spoke during the first course, and then took questions from the governors before he sat down to enjoy his meal with everyone. Mike had a great time talking to Larry Kudlow who was seated next to him. The First Lady was gorgeous in her black, long sheath gown trimmed with a wide row of rhinestones along the neckline and V-back!

The music for the evening was really amazing. We were entertained by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Chamber Orchestra, The United States Army Chorus, The United States Army Strings, The United States Navy Band Sea Chanter, and the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants. They surrounded the room as they sang and played for us — “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “What a Wonderful World,” “Hallelujah,” and ended with “God Bless America.” It was a spectacular night!

The next morning the spouses were invited to tour the Blair House, and have lunch with the First Lady at the White House. They were both wonderful events that I’ll have to tell you about later! But last Tuesday morning I was back in Columbus to open up the Imagination Library in Franklin County. I was so excited to be able to open it up to so many kids. I think we had nearly 5,000 children sign up in the first three days! What a week!

By Fran DeWine

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.