But in true White House fashion, Adams used the tragedy for political advantage. Rather than receive Jefferson at the executive mansion after Jefferson defeated him in a re-election bid, Adams snubbed him, claimed he was still mourning his dead son. “It was a lame excuse, considering that Charles had been buried three months earlier,” Anthony writes.
“Adams hadn’t attended the burial, but he had appeared at numerous public events since then.”
One of the more entertaining First Kid scandals involved Chester Arthur’s son, Alan, who was arrested by the police when “in the wee hours of the morning he was found swimming nude in the South Lawn fountain with the prince of Siam,” Anthony writes.
Yet America’s First Families shows so many White House kids try to lead normal lives under extraordinary circumstances. There are rare shots of Gerald Ford’s daughter washing her car, and Jimmy Carter’s daughter roller skating.
Franklin Roosevelt, who had the reputation of being a distant parent, is shown decked out as Caesar at a costume party, with his wife and daughters dressed as his “vestal virgins.” At one Halloween party, George Bush’s boy Marvin donned a Barbara Bush mask.
[Click on the slideshow to your right for a look.]
When you are living in the White House, you are truly living in a museum, one that welcomes some 6,000 visitors on many days. It’s hard to kick back and relax. Jimmy Carter apparently barely slept in his final days in office, when Americans were held hostage in Iran.
Carter disapproved of high living on the public’s dime. He sold off the presidential yacht as a gesture to populist frugality. Yet he did manage to renovate the billiards room and panel it with wood from his old barn. These days, that’s where Hillary Rodham Clinton occasionally plays pinochle, although the quasi-official favorite family game is Boggle.
And if you think Hillary doesn’t have a goofy side, Anthony reports the senator-elect from New York is a devoted fan of The Three Stooges and The Flintstones.
So, whoever the next president may be, if you are ready to move into the world’s most luxurious fishbowl, the keys are waiting. The place is 200 years old, there’s virtually no privacy, but you are pretty much guaranteed hot water. A lot of hot water.
Buck Wolf is a producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is a weekly feature. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.