When we think of dinners with the President of the United States, we think of state dinners with tons of security, and massive pre-planning. Presidential dinners have changed distinctly since Washington’s day. The nation was much smaller for sure, and he could easily get together with all of his advisors and Congress in one place, I’m sure. In fact, George Washington was basically in uncharted waters. So, he decided that on Thursday evenings, he would have the brightest minds in the nation over for a casual dinner. At that time the nation’s capitol was still in New York City, so those casual dinners were never held in the White House. George Washington and his family lived in executive mansions in lower Manhattan, which was close to other governmental buildings in that era. While Washington entertained foreign dignitaries and other heads of state at public receptions on Tuesdays and Martha Washington regularly invited guests to their home on Fridays, Thursday evenings were reserved for formal dinners with congressional leaders, their wives and close personal friends of the Washingtons.
In reality, these dinners were elaborate affairs. They started promptly at 4:00pm, because Washington refused to wait for latecomers. I guess every president has his own idiosyncrasies. The parties numbered up to two dozen people, gathered around a table set with the Washington family silver and china. Unlike some state dinners, in which the President and his wife occupy the head of the table, Martha Washington preferred to sit in the middle of one side of the long table and President Washington sat directly across from her. The ends of the table were occupied by a secretary to help with the conversation and roast carving. The roast carving was necessary too, because there were a lot of roasts to be carved. The dinners were comprised of three courses, but that did no limit the selection. There would commonly be upwards of twenty different dishes in each course…all of which were brought to the table at the same time.
The various dishes were the finest that New York had to offer, and the guests were lavished with the exquisite meals. Manhattan was in the middle of New York City, but in 1700, it was still quite wild. The island had an assortment of venison, rabbit, and duck that were hunted for food. Oysters were abundant in the Hudson River. Jellies, dried fruits and nuts were served alongside, although you wouldn’t have seen potato or tomato dishes, because those foods were regarded as unfit for humans to eat in those days. Wine was drunk with dinner, although George Washington was said to prefer a tankard of ale over a glass of claret.
When dinner was over, Washington would raise a toast to the assembly, and then the ladies would retire to Martha’s drawing room for “coffee and civilized conversation.” The gentlemen would remain in the dining room, lingering over cigars and wine, but not for very long. The president only stayed another thirty minutes before joining the women in the drawing room. One of his personal secretaries would stay on in the dining room with the men to preside over political chats for another hour or so, until the company left and the Washingtons’ Thursday dinner was over…until the next week. George Washington passed away on this day, December 14, 1799.
For a girl, turning twelve means that she is stepping into those teen and pre-teen years. For most of us, those years are tumultuous at best. We can’t decide if we like ourselves or hate ourselves. One minute we are sure that we must be the ugliest girl ever, and the next minute we look in the mirror, and there stands a girl who might just have some pretty features, after all. While this rite of passage is normal for girls of this age, it is not fun, so while I’m excited for the future of my grandniece, Raelynn Masterson, I also know that the road ahead will likely be a bit bumpy. Nevertheless, Raelynn has an advantage over me, in that she is a very pretty girl. Hmmm…maybe I haven’t moved past that stage…or maybe we never really do.
Of course, looks are not the only things on Raelynn’s mind. She is a resourceful girl. She is interested in how things work, and in making things better in her world. I suppose that is why she decided to run for class secretary at school last year. She wanted to be able to affect changes in areas where they were needed. She is a thinker. She sees a problem, and thinks things through to come up with the best solution. Those are the kinds of people we need in politics…honest, concerned, and logical. Maybe we need to have her run for president of the United States. She would do a far better job that our current president, if you ask me.
Raelynn is a smart girl. She like to play chess with her Uncle Dave Chase…a game that takes forethought and good strategy skills. I’m not sure how often she beats him, but just being able to play Chess is a skill that many people don’t have. I used to play it, years ago, but I haven’t played in so long, that I’m not even sure I remember how anymore. Raelynn is growing up so fast that sometimes she seems much older that her young years…another anomaly that seems to happen about this age, whether it is because they are maturing so fast, or that they want to be grown up already. They definitely seem to be twelve, going on…
Still, no matter how old Raelynn gets, she will always be her daddy’s girl. She and my nephew, Rob Masterson have such a close relationship. She is close with her mom, Dustie Masterson too, but for a lot of girls, being a Daddy’s Girl is simply the way it is. Raelynn also loves her siblings. She looks up to her older sister, Christina Masterson, and is a great role model for her younger siblings, Matthew and Audrianna Masterson. She is a great big sister, and she makes life fun for all who know her. Today is Raelynn’s 12th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My little sister, Allyn Hadlock was the baby of the family, and as such, she didn’t get many opportunities to be the leader…or instigator…in the things we did as kids. Now, I suppose that being the youngest can have its upside and its downside. The upside is that you are usually left out of the punishment when it comes to the things your older siblings decided to do, which you were not involved in planning, and simply went along with because your older siblings either made you, by threatening you with your life, or basically played on your gullible side and told you that it was ok. In Allyn’s case I’m sure she also got into less trouble because all one had to do to Allyn was look at her sternly and tell her that was a bad thing to do, and she broke down and cried like you had just beaten her with a club. Mom usually didn’t have the heart to spank her after that. Hmm…maybe she was the smart one after all. My sisters and I always said that Allyn was just always good, and I’m pretty sure she was, because she really hated being spoken to in such a stern way…which I would have to say was barely stern at all, but was rather her interpretation of stern.
Of course, being the youngest has its downside too, in that you never get to play the cool parts in whatever game we were playing. After all, the youngest child can’t really be the mom, the teacher, or the team captain, when there are older kids involved. That is simply unacceptable. My sisters and I loved to play Club House, and we had to have a President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. With five of us, and the jobs being assigned by age, Allyn got to be the club member, and that was pretty much it. As I recall, that left her as the delegated gofer. It worked out pretty well, since we figured that if we wanted snacks or something like that, it was best to send the baby of the bunch to ask for it. I don’t recall if she had any better luck at securing the snacks for the club…especially if it was close to dinnertime, but it seemed like the best plan nevertheless.
Those days are long gone now, but I do have to say that I think Allyn still relates quite well to the baby side of life. I’m not saying that she acts like a baby, but she does come up with some of the cutest nicknames for her kids and grandkids, and still gets down on their level to play their kinds of games…a very important part of being the grandma. Of course, I think I did pretty good with my grandkids as well, but since they are virtually grown up now, I’ll have to wait for the next generation to play the goofy games again…or borrow someone else’s little ones to play those games with. I have to wonder though if being the baby of the family gives you a very different aspect on life, however, because it seems to have done that with my sister, Allyn. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!