May 28, 2009

The way things used to be, unbelievable.

Gleaned from David Brinkley's WASHINGTON GOES TO WAR

It was still possible in 1941 to walk through the White House gate and into the grounds without showing a pass or answering any questions, since the White House was not yet considered much different from any other public building in the city. Until a few years before there had been no gates at all, and on summer days government employees had lounged on the White House lawns eating picnic lunches out of paper sacks. In the mid-thirties, a Washington resident was driving his Ford convertible down Pennsylvania Avenue with the top down when it began to rain. He turned into the White House driveway and drove under the portico for shelter, put his top up, and went on. Only twenty-five years before that, in Taft's administration, tourists looking around inside the White House had been allowed, when the president was absent, to go into his office and sit for a moment and bounce in his chair. It was all casual, easy, open and trusting.

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