It’s a boy!
In January, for the first time in more than 50 years, a boy will have a home in the White House.
Recent years have brought a string of “first daughters,” the latest being Malia and Sasha Obama. The last boy to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was 3-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr., in 1963.
Now it’s Barron Trump’s turn. Barron, 10, is a fourth-grader in New York, and his family says that’s where he’ll stay, at least until the school year ends. Barron has been kept largely out of the public eye, so it’s hard to know whether he will match the high jinks of previous sons who lived in the White House. Judging from the Lincoln and Roosevelt boys, the bar is pretty high.
Willie and Tad Lincoln, then 10 and 7, moved into the White House in 1861 as the Civil War was erupting. The boys amused themselves by staging a circus in the attic and building a fort on the roof. Tad once drove pet goats through the East Room, where his mother was having guests. Another time, he rigged the mansion’s bell system so that all the bells rang at once.
Willie’s death from illness in 1862 devastated Tad. He became his father’s constant companion. He had his own Union Army uniform and liked to fire “bombs” from his toy cannon. To raise money for the war, he charged guests a nickel to meet his father, and he sold food to people waiting in the White House lobby.
Trivia: Willie is the only president’s child to die in the White House itself. The only president’s baby born there was Esther Cleveland, in 1893.
“I don’t think that any family has ever enjoyed the White House more than we have,” President Theodore Roosevelt claimed. Indeed. Some say the 224-year-old building still shivers from the punishment Roosevelt’s four sons gave it from 1901 to 1909.
The boys liked to slide down the stairs on kitchen trays, have water-pistol fights and throw snowballs from the rooftop. Sometimes they sneaked out at night and put out all the lights in Lafayette Square, across from the White House.
The youngest brother, Quentin, gave his parents fits. He and his friends, dubbed the “White House Gang” by his father, got in trouble a lot. One time they had fun flinging spitballs at a painting of President Andrew Jackson. Quentin had to clean up the mess and was not allowed to see his friends for an entire week.
In the most famous Quentin story, he tried to cheer up his brother Archie, who was sick in bed, by bringing Archie’s pony up in the White House elevator for a visit!
Not surprisingly, Quentin was a darling of the press. But he was more than able to handle them. A reporter seeking a scoop about the president got this reply from Quentin: “I see him occasionally, but I know nothing of his family life.”
Now it’s Barron Trump’s turn to live in what presidential daughter Luci Johnson once called “a public fishbowl.” We wish him well when he becomes the new kid in town.