Naturally I was excited at the prospect at having lunch at the White House with the President of the United States. Very few eleven-year-olds get to do that. I told my friends at Pelham Day School in New York, and they wanted to hear all about it when I got back.
The President was Herbert Hoover, a long-time associate of my father. It was after the 1932 election but before the inauguration of his successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, that I traveled to Washington, along with my father, Perrin Galpin, and my older sister, Penny. At the White House we were ushered in to see President and Mrs. Hoover. My father shook hands, my sister curtsied, and, flustered, so did I.
There were just the five of us for lunch in some private dining room, and the menu had been specially chosen for children: spinach with a poached egg on top. I don’t remember what was talked about, but I suspect it was nothing important.
We returned to Pelham over the weekend, and on Monday I went back to school to tell my friends about my adventure. They were suitably impressed until one asked what we ate and I told them. With that, disaster. It seemed to them so unlikely that the White House would serve anything so lowly as spinach that they refused to believe that’s what we had eaten, or in fact that we had eaten there at all. They ridiculed me. I was crushed. I went home near tears.
My parents shared my distress, and my father told the President about it. The result was prompt and the remedy complete. Mr. Hoover wrote me the letter opposite, enclosing with it a Washington’s Birthday bicentennial button.