White House moves have not always gone smoothly. Here are a few of the mix-ups between comings and goings of former presidents, adapted from "America's First Families," by National First Ladies Library historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony.
- The move was so poorly organized in 1853 that when incoming President Franklin Pierce finally finished shaking hands at a public reception downstairs, he wearily went up to the private quarters and found the servants had left and there was no designated bedroom prepared for him. He had to walk the private rooms with a candle and search for a place to sleep.
- First lady Julia Grant so hated leaving in 1877 that she stayed behind when her husband, President Ulysses S. Grant went to the inauguration for Rutherford Hayes. When the Hayes family arrived, she decided to play hostess one more time in the house that was no longer hers and spontaneously hold a luncheon for them. Mrs. Grant had to be gently coaxed out after lunch.
- On his first night in 1913, President Woodrow Wilson could not find his pajamas, and a search through the Wilson family baggage did not turn them up.
- First lady Florence Harding made good on a promise she made during the 1920 campaign to open the North Lawn when she moved into the White House so the public could visit as if it were a park. When she noticed a maid drawing the curtains on the long, large East Room windows because the public was pressing their noses against them, the new first lady told her, "Let them look in if they want. It's their White House."
- President Gerald Ford's move into the White House in 1974 was hastily planned, since he rose to the presidency after Richard Nixon resigned. First lady Betty Ford was placing personal items in some closets when she found a box of Nixon's marked "tapes." It wasn't the missing Watergate tapes, though. It was the former president's music collection.
- In 1989, Nancy Reagan nervously checked and rechecked the places where the personal items that belonged to her and her husband had been stored during their last minutes in the home. Finally, her aide Elaine Crispen told her, "If you leave anything, they know where to send it."
- During his last moments in the Oval Office, President Ronald Reagan scribbled a note for his successor on a notepad with a turkey insignia that said, "Don't let the turkeys get you down." He slipped it in the presidential desk for President George H.W. Bush. Four years later, Bush wrote a note he left in the desk for President Bill Clinton. And eight years after that, Clinton wrote a note for President George W. Bush - and included a copy of the 1993 note that the new president's father had left.
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