White House kids speak out: Growing up in the president's pad
White House kids Steve Ford, Jenna Bush Hager, Barbara Pierce Bush, and Lynda Johnson Robb talk about growing up with Dad as president, playing Led Zeppelin, and Mom still cooking dinner.
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After his father was sworn in, his mother, Betty Ford, fixed the family dinner.Skip to next paragraph
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"She looks over at my dad and says, 'Gerry, something's wrong here. You just became president of the United States and I'm still cooking,'" he said.
He also talked of his parents' deep devotion to each other, noting their decision to frankly talk about Mrs. Ford's breast cancer diagnosis just weeks after he became president.
"I can remember them holding hands and standing in front of the press and saying, 'We're going to take the shame off of this disease,' which was a closet disease for women back in 1974," Ford said.
When his mother expressed concern after her diagnosis about wearing evening gowns, Ford said, his father told her: "Betty, come on, don't be silly. If you can't wear cut low in the front, wear cut low in the back."
When asked to reveal something the crowd might not know about their mothers, Ms. Robb said her mother was a big "Gunsmoke" fan and noted that state dinners could interfere with her mother's viewings, so her father came up with a solution.
"Somehow he got WACA, that's the White House Communications Agency, to find a way to tape 'Gunsmoke' for Mom," she said.
Other conferences have been hosted in Texas by the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas and the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station. The next conference will be held in the spring of 2013 at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The conference ended with a panel featuring former first ladies Barbara Bush and Laura Bush during which the two revealed former President George W. Bush has taken up painting.
"And he's good, that's the most extraordinary thing," his mother said.
His wife replied, "The truth is he gave up cigars and he had to find some pastime."