When President Reagan convened his Cabinet the first Saturday after his inauguration, he assured those at the meeting that he wasn't going to call them to the White House regularly on weekends.
Delivering a caution against work-aholism, Reagan told his Cabinet members and senior White House aides to take time off to be with their families.
During the vacation month of August, it appears that not everyone was listening. While Reagan has been spending a month in California mixing relatively light doses of business with his vacation, most of the Cabinet members have been in their offices.
In the senior levels of the White House, however, vacations appear to be enjoying something of a vogue, at least compared to the habits of earlier administrations. The vacation pattern reflects the generally more relaxed style of the Reagan White House.
Reagan's top three advisers, counselor Edwin Meese III, chief of staff James A. Baker III and deputy chief of staff Michael K. Deaver, have been rotating between working, in California or at the White House, and vacationing.
Baker has just ended a vacation in his native Texas to join the president in California. Deaver, who took the first stint with Reagan in California, is touring in New England and will return to work when Reagan returns to the White House on Thursday. Meese has been on duty with the president.
Vice President Bush began his Maine vacation Aug. 14 and will return to Washington next Monday. However, he has left his Kennebunkport summer home for several political speeches and other events.
Domestic council head Martin Anderson was on vacation last week, and his office was a little vague about when he will return. Thursday, one aide thought. "He hasn't checked in for a while," she added.
White House communications director David Gergen was driving with his family through Wyoming last week and was expected back on the job Wednesday or Thursday.
Elizabeth Dole, who directs the White House contacts with business, labor and other groups, is on vacation with her husband, Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, until next Monday or Tuesday.
Legislative affairs chief Max Friedersdorf is traveling abroad until Labor Day.
But the White House was not deserted last week. National security affairs adviser Richard V. Allen was on duty, although his vacation plans were impossible to learn because Phyllis Kaminisky, who handles all reporters' telephone calls for Allen, was on vacation. Two calls went unreturned.
Political director Lyn Nofziger, counsel Fred Fielding, White House state and local government liaison Richard Williamson and Meese's deputy, Robert M. Garrick, were at work in their White House offices.
Of the department heads, only Secretaries Drew Lewis of Transportation, Richard Schweiker of Health and Human Services and Attorney General William French Smith were on vacation last week. Lewis was dividing his time off between his farm in Schwenkville, Pa., and Bermuda. Schweiker was at the New Jersey shore and Smith was splitting his vacation between his native Los Angeles and Cape Cod.
At the State Department, Secretary Alexander M. Haig Jr.'s plans were covered by a security blanket. An aide said, "We prefer not to have the information in the public domain for security reasons." Haig has taken seven or eight days off since January, the aide said, and was in his office last week.
Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan planned to be off last week, but he delayed his vacation to work on the budget. He will be vacationing next week, here and in Florida.
Interior Secretary James G. Watt will be traveling in the West most of this month and may take a day or two off during his visit to Colorado, an aide said.
Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger took three days at his Maine vacation house in June and plans to spend the Labor Day weekend in California.
Energy Secretary James B. Edwards also has not taken time off, but he plans to do some hunting and fishing in his native South Carolina in mid-October.
Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige took one week in August on his ranch in New Mexico. Agriculture Secretary John R. Block also took a week and returned to his farm in Illinois. An accomplished runner, Block took a day off in April to run the Boston Marathon.
Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Samuel Pierce took a week off in August, and Education Secretary Terrel H. Bell took most of two weeks.
Labor Secretary Raymond J. Donovan went to Switzerland and Italy on a three-day vacation swing in June and spent a week in August in Boca Raton, Fla. Now, he's hard at work preparing for Labor Day.