|From: Kathy Wooldridge
Sent: Thursday, December 05, 2002 4:02 PM
Subject: White House Trip
Herewith and account, in excruciating detail, of yesterdays momentous events. Sorry that it goes on for so long but it was just such an amazing experience and I do so wish I could have taken you all with me to share it. But, sadly, this is the only way I can. When I figure out how to print out the pictures I'll have some to show around. Without further delay the account-
Well in a word it was AWESOME!!!!
My nephew Mark was originally going to escort me but couldn't get out of his college duties so my nephew Gary escorted me. Gary and I arrived (too early for once) and found the gate we were to enter by. At the appointed hour we were processed through several points and then taken into the east wing of the White House. After the entire group was inside we were all taken up a magnificent staircase to a large 'lobby' area.
Here there was a Marine playing Holiday music on the largest grand piano I've ever seen. The entire area, actually the entire wing, was decorated magnificently. Huge pine roping draping huge doorways. Large poinsettia 'trees'. Large fir trees with gold ornaments. Then they opened the doors to the blue room, which is where 'THE' Christmas Tree is. We all jammed in to find our ornaments. I did find mine and I did get a picture of it but couldn't get a good one as there was a branch across part of it. Oh well.
We were allowed to roam around the entire wing freely and were directed by young officers from all branches of the military to the buffets on either end of the wing. One of the buffets had hors d'ouerves and the other desserts. I don't think there was any thing there that I haven't eaten before ...but it sure never tasted like THAT. Everything was just delicious. The salmon must have had to audition to be chosen and, of course, the presentation was gorgeous.
One of the large 'banquet rooms' featured an exquisitely decorated gingerbread 'White House' with many fanciful animals on the grounds and porch. The other room featured a very large bald eagle made of dark and white chocolate. We wandered around the various rooms, the blue room, the green room and the red room the two large 'banquet' halls at either end, the large hall that connected the two and the large lobby area. We saw the portraits of many Presidents and Statesmen and First Ladies and many beautiful artifacts.
In each room were the aforementioned young officers all of which were knowledgeable about the various portraits and artifacts to be found everywhere. While I am certain that we were on a very tight time schedule absolutely nothing seemed rushed or pushed or hurried. I took a moment to sit and let it soak in. So many of these things I am familiar with from books and documentaries on TV.. but there it was, THE Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington. Gary and I took turns taking each others pictures in front of our particular favorites. I had mine with Jimmy Carter, John Kennedy, Ben Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Gary wanted his with Ronald Regan. (I'm working on him)
After about an hour the First Lady arrived and made a few remarks at a podium on a stair landing. She was then ushered into the Blue room where the camera equipment was set up. Originally we were to have our pictures taken with her by state but she decided to do them individually. So we queued up.
When it came to my turn I handed a card that had been given to me earlier to an officer that escorted me over to Mrs. Bush and formally introduced me and then Gary. We shook hands, made eye contact for a moment, she then thanked me for coming and wished me a happy holiday season. The officer very gently directed our attention to the camera a few flashes later we were escorted out the other door. I still don't believe it - especially as I sit here in my Birkenstocks and faded 'work clothes' writing this. That the likes of me received such an honor! The photos will be sent here shortly and I might believe it then. It has arrived!!
On the way in to the district we got to see Marine One flying in and on the way out a motorcade going through the city. While still on the grounds of the White House we got to see the First Pets Barney and Scottie out running around. Honest to God, this morning the first thing I saw out the back window was a Bald Eagle fishing. How's that for timing. All that coupled with the fact that we were able to get there and back before the storm hit. I saw the first flake 4 miles from here. All in all, a truly charmed day!!!!
Well, time for me to stop basking in the afterglow and get back to work. If I don't see you before please have a nice holiday season!!!! My very best wishes to you all!!!!!!