Our very first “FIRST LADY” was Martha Washington who never lived in the White House.  Martha, a widow, married George Washington in 1759 and kept the home fires burning at Mount Vernon, Virginia, while her husband was away.  As history tells us, George Washington slept here, there and everywhere.  No wonder he was called the ‘Father of our Country’.  Martha carried on at the mansion on the hill, personally supervising her household staff, especially the kitchen and dining room servants.  She also kept her eye on meals served in the other Presidential White Houses in New York and Philadelphia.  With time on her hands and Mr. President out on the trail, Martha wrote: The Martha Washington Cook Book, still available today.


Abigail Adams, our second First Lady, moved into The House but told her husband, President John Adams, she didn’t care for it  too much.  Abigail felt there was no place like home – her own.  Later the third President Thomas Jefferson and his First Lady spruced up the place to be more compatible to their elegant taste.  It wasn’t until Mrs. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the 26th First Lady moved in that the mansion was christened “The White House”.


President Barack Obama has a singular destiny, unlike any of his predecessors: to lead his country successfully through an arduous war and to conduct its councils through the re-birth of a government, new in its forms and principals.  With him he brings a rainbow of hope to chase away the dark clouds hovering overhead.  There will come, at times, an inevitable loneliness that fills a darkened White House.  Then there is Michelle, someone whom to talk with, reminisce and make plans.  Without his First Lady, it would be very difficult to stand by oneself throughout the next four years.  Privately, their intimacy of marriage offers them the opportunity of freeing themselves (for a time) of the weight of pretense … being frankly themselves. There is no deeper safeguard against the unpredictable.  Also, with two growing daughters, Malia and Sasha … and the Presidential Pet … there will be happier distractions.


Michelle has to be constantly aware of public opinion … and of the press that will be at her door, asking many questions, some silly and some intelligently inquisitive.  Such is her political stardom.  Her husband will show that the difference between a helping hand and an outstretched palm is a twist of the wrist.  With his dynamic energy, mental and spiritual inspiration and family beside him, he will set an example of the universality and oneness of life … not just for America … but also on the world-stage.


I don’t care what Michelle Obama’s wardrobe changes are from day to day.  I don’t believe she will be intimidated by the fashionista.  She is her own person … living a great autobiographical drama, un-accepting of circumstances that seem unfair, unkind or uncomfortable.  Through the challenges she faces (and nobody said it would be easy) she can follow through to eventual victory.


“Ring out the old … ring in the new; ring out the false … ring in the true”, wrote Alfred Lord Tennyson.  This is a motto that holds to this very day.  May God bless us all.


Gene Arceri has gained world attention as a writer, critic, award winning PBS reviewer and publicist. A native New Yorker, Gene resides in San Francisco and spends considerable time in London. Among his best selling books are: ‘Elizabeth Taylor: Her Life. Her Loves. Her Future’, Susan Hayward’s ‘RED’ and ‘Charlie of Nob Hill’. {San Francisco’s most famous cat}arcgen@sbcglobal.net

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