Twas the night before Christmas and all through Blair House
The sole creature stirring was me, a small mouse
No stockings were hung by the chimney with care
Lest the chimney collapse, leaving nothing but air.
Nobody nestled all snug in the beds
Since the risk was too great they would fall onto heads.
Sultans in burnooses, kings in their crowns
Presidents in top hats, queens in their gowns
All were but ghosts of a world on the roam
When the house wasn't much but they still called it home.
Now it stood empty and I in my cap
Had just settled down for a gloomy short nap
When out on the street there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my hole to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Squeezed through a shutter, climbed up on the sash
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a miniature sleigh, eight tiny reindeer
And a little old elf, so round, so merry
Whistling and shouting for help to carry
A bagful of goodies into the house
Where all was so still except one very scared mouse.
As I drew in my head and was turning around
Down the chimney the elf came with a great bound.
The chimney it shook, the ceiling it quivered
The chandeliers swayed and the whole house shivered.
If ever there was time for extensive repairs
It seemed now was it, in case GSA cares.
With $8.6 million appropriated, work might begin
But what about furnishings to put therein?
The next thing I knew the stockings were there,
Hung on the chimney with considerable care
By this man in the red suit, this man with the belly
That shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
From a list he read names like Annenberg, Astor,
Andreas, Getty and, going still faster,
He added up sums as still more tumbled out,
Zuckerman, Massey, Murdock -- then a shout,
"Two and half million dollars! The message is clear.
"These people are Santa, why am I here?"
Well, it is Christmas Eve and surely Clement C. Moore wouldn't mind a little poetic license for a good cause.
And even though the government has already appropriated $8.6 million to renovate the president's guest house, another $4 million must come from private sources to pay for furnishings and redecorating. Yesterday, Chief of Protocol Selwa Roosevelt said that $2.5 million of that has been given or pledged.
The way it looks this holiday, the National Council for the Blair House Restoration Fund doesn't have just one Santa Claus but a whole sleighful.
There are even a few incognito administration "Santas" -- Secretary of State George Shultz, Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead and White House chief of staff Donald Regan -- who have contributed their own money. Roosevelt would not disclose the amount of their gifts but said they are "substantial." Whitehead's gift has been made with funds from the John C. Whitehead Fund at the New York Community Trust.
The largest single gift came from Nancy (Mrs. Keith S.) Wellin of San Antonio and New York for $300,000 through a family foundation. Next was $200,000 given jointly by Walter and Leonore Annenberg of Wynnewood, Pa., and Janet Annenberg Hooker of New York. Others included Brooke (Mrs. Vincent) Astor of New York through the Astor Foundation, $100,000; Dwayne Andreas of Decatur, Ill., $100,000; Winton Blount of Montgomery, Ala., $100,000; Gordon and Ann Getty of San Francisco, $100,000; Alyne (Mrs. Jack) Massey of Nashville, $100,000; David Murdock of Los Angeles (who owns the Hay-Adams Hotel), $100,000.
Council members pledging substantial gifts for undisclosed sums are Holly (Mrs. Joseph) Coors of Denver; Douglas and Susan Dillon of New York; Kitty (Mrs. Brooke II) Duncan of New Orleans; John H. Johnson of Chicago; Annette (Mrs. Samuel P.) Reed of New York; Donald Kendall, chairman of PepsiCo. Inc.; Linda Robinson of Greenwich, Conn., whose husband is president of the American Express Co.; and Jerry Weintraub of Malibu.
In addition, the Jules and Doris Stein Foundation and the Gerald Oppenheimer Family Foundation jointly pledged $100,000; Armand Hammer of Los Angeles pledged a "substantial" but undisclosed amount, and Dallas council members Margot Perot, Liener Temerlin and Margaret (Mrs. Eugene) McDermott pledged to raise between $300,000 and $500,000 to dedicate a Dallas room.
Washington council members and their contributions include:
Joe and Barbara Allbritton and Riggs National Bank, $100,000; The Washington Post Co. $100,000, arranged for by Blair House council member and Washington Post Co. Chairman Katharine Graham; financier B. Francis Saul II and Tricia Saul, $100,000; and U.S. News & World Report owner Mortimer Zuckerman, $100,000.
And that's just the beginning.
Two other Santas, Edwin K. Hoffman, president of Woodward & Lothrop, and Marvin Traub, chairman and chief executive officer of Bloomingdale's, have promised shopping sprees so council members may replace everything Blair House needs from bathroom wastebaskets and soap dishes to mixing bowls and ice buckets.
Roosevelt also said General Electric Co. will donate major equipment and appliances, American Standard and Kohler have offered fixtures for the 19 bathrooms and Du Pont is ready to provide almost anything it makes. Chatham Blankets will add to blankets it has already given and Cannon Mills will provide all the towels, a dozen of everything needed to outfit a bathroom.
Laura Blair Marvel of Greenville, Del., who grew up in Blair House, which was bought by the government in 1941, is an honorary council member. Her job is trying to locate Blair family memorabilia.
The Annenbergs and Janet Hooker have targeted their joint gift of $200,000 to decorate the garden room in the new curved wing, 40 by 40 feet, at the rear of the house. New York decorator Mario Buatta has been commissioned to do the wing, winning it on a toss of the coin with another New York decorator, Mark Hampton, who will decorate the drawing room area of the old house.
"They got exactly the rooms they wanted," said Roosevelt.
Cochairmen of the council are former ambassador to Great Britain Anne Armstrong and Robin Duke of New York. Roosevelt serves as honorary chair.
Any privately raised funds left over from refurnishing the four-house complex will go into an endowment fund.
"We don't ever again want to be in a position where there is no adequate budget for maintenance," Roosevelt said.
As for how the council was put together, Roosevelt said members were chosen either because they could raise money from others or contribute their own.
Purred a very merry chief of protocol: "We've hardly gone outside the council."