. . . I remember it well!

I was walking down the hallowed halls of the White House to the Cabinet Room to place my credenzas against the end walls on either side of the door that led to the Oval Office. The place was a buzz of activity as people moved decisively from place to place in setting up for the then President-Elect Obama as President Bush graciously moved over for his replacement. The cabinets had been out of sight to me for an hour when the team at the White House took them elsewhere to prepare for delivery to me in the Cabinet Room. I assume X-Rays and sniffers were used yet again in a more controlled environment but who knows? We’d already been frisked a few times in security checks and sniffer dogs had been released inside the truck to sniff around the blanket-wrapped, shrink-wrapped cabinets. The cream leather seats in the one-ton dually-cab had paw prints all over when the search was done. More on that in the journal on the White House pieces to come.

My first view of the White House

Contrasting the visit I made with current events surrounding the new presidency is markedly different as you can imagine. We’d been waiting for two hours to slide seamlessly into the White House on command and as we were parked two blocks away I had not seen a car park behind us to block us in. Our schedules were changed three times over a six-hour period. I think that this might be part of the system to get unknown elements into the White House but that’s just guesswork. A man from the car behind us walked past me as I stepped from the truck and seeing how little room we had to extract ourselves from the gap, I asked the man if he would mind moving back while we got out. He stood back, looked at the three-inch gap at the front and then the three-inch gap at the back, and said, “You cain’t git outa there?!!” Paah! He said, and walked off!

It is hard for me to describe the peace I felt in the Cabinet Room as I waited with the First Lady’s assistant, Sarah Armstrong. Pictures of Presidents past hung side by side with the hugely massive conference table centred in the room surrounded by armed chairs. There was a sense of awe and importance being there but what I felt most came when I saw the credenzas up-ended on two small wheeled furniture shifters glide into the room. They should have been kept flat but what could I say? I still felt peace as we unwrapped the blankets and set the two cabinets in place. It was awesome and surreal to see how they fit to the curved wall and the carpet so perfectly. Such synchrony, such peace!

9 Comments

  1. Sylvain on 18 January 2021 at 9:55 pm

    I have heard at the radio that the soon to be past President is moving. I have heard a bust of Lincoln was seen embarked in a van. I would have thought nearly everything in the White House is the property of the USA.
    So I wander what will happen with your credenzas.
    But, maybe, the bust of Lincoln is simply moved to a State reserve.

    • Tom on 19 January 2021 at 12:10 pm

      The objects in the White House are taken care of by the White House Historical Association. This was started in 1961 by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, the mission of this non profit organization was created to preserve all art in the White House. In spite of what you might hear in the news even a President of the U.S. can’t just dispose of an object or take it with them when they leave.

  2. John Morrison on 19 January 2021 at 3:40 am

    Roughly, how many man hours went into these? And if you can, please share what you can about about costs. Hopefully many, many, many more Presidents get to enjoy these. Thanks.

    • Bill Krull on 19 January 2021 at 12:03 pm

      What I wouldn’t give to have one of Mr. Sellers masterpieces. Better yet, to take some classes with him

  3. Shannon on 19 January 2021 at 2:47 pm

    Sarah Armstrong was also President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee chief executive officer.

  4. Eric on 19 January 2021 at 7:54 pm

    I believe I saw this piece first hand about 8 yrs ago. No pix, unfortunately, since I was there on business. I didn’t know it was your work. I’m always amazed at the beautiful and historic furnishings that are in the WH and Capitol buildings. That’s a piece that will be cared for and enjoyed for generations.

  5. Mark Teague on 19 January 2021 at 8:41 pm

    I believe the difference in decorum can be attributed to cultural differences between New York City vs. Texas. Northern urban metropolises are overcrowded and everyone (nearly) within them are so caught up in the rat race that they don’t tend to stop and take the time to exchange pleasantries. You are on your own.

    I once watched when entering my high school in Rochester, MI on a sub-zero temperature morning as long line of students entering the building from the cold simply stepped over a pile of books that a female student had dropped across the threshold of the doorway. I think she was carrying back in a stack she must have checked out of the school library for a school project. I was appalled at the lack of chivalry and courtesy.

    Similarly, here in TN when you need to pull out into traffic many will stop or slow down and allow you space to merge into traffic with a friendly wave. In the Detroit Metropolitan Area, you would have to simply pull out into traffic blocking an oncoming motorist; whereby, you would receive a very different hand gesture (typically being shot a bird).

  6. Billy on 22 January 2021 at 10:54 am

    Mark what has been allowed to continue in America for five years has nothing to do with Decorum. It is not correct to equate a stressed out commuter to an elitist family and their enablers. Giving air and credence to the most extreme sections of society have been the second most horrendous acts for the last five years. The first being the alternative truth lie, there can be only one truth, and there has to be proper free investigative journalism to speak to this, who have a responsibility to prove the validity of what they say.
    I come to Paul Sellers to escape the world and learn about my passion and rarely comment, but I have been upset with your contribution enough to write in reply to it.

  7. William Watt on 26 January 2021 at 12:45 am

    Paul,
    As you mentioned in your blog post ‘A White House Design’ back in November, there appear to be articles of unknown origin. This got me wondering, in what manner did you leave your signature on the White House furniture? Can you say publicly or is it something that you’d prefer to stay between yourself and the White House Historical Society or a future restorer??

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