The only President's child born in the White House was Esther
Cleveland, the second daughter of
Esther's sister Ruth, who had arrived during the interlude between Cleveland's
two terms, was almost 2 years old at the time of Esther's birth in 1873. Before
the President's second term ended, another girl, Marion, was born at the
Cleveland's summer home in Massachusetts. Four and a half years after the
departure of the demure little Cleveland girls, the uninhibited children of
Theodore Roosevelt came on
with the force of a hurricane. The five younger children--ages 3 to 14 when the
Roosevelts arrived--slid down the stairways on trays stolen from the pantry,
stalked the halls on stilts, and bicycled and skated on newly polished floors.
The Roosevelt children also kept a small zoo of pets that included a badger, a
bear, raccoons, cats, dogs, rats, guinea pigs, snakes, and a calico pony named
Alogonquin. When Archie had the measles, his brothers entertained him by
leading the pony into his second-floor bedroom, after riding up the President's
Ten more administrations would follow that of Grover Cleveland before
the cry of a President's infant was again heard inside the Executive Mansion.
Then, early in 1961, came President John F. Kennedy and
Jacqueline Kennedy with
their 2-month-old baby, John Jr., and his engaging sister, Caroline, 3 years
old. Newspaper and magazine editors were soon publishing stories and pictures
of the youngsters' third-floor playroom where the
had romped not long before; of the new tree house, swings, and other playground
equipment behind the south lawn; of Caroline's pet canary Robin, her pony
Macaroni, and her dog Pushinka, the gift of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
Multiplying anecdotes told how "John-John" had refused to greet the
Grand Duchess of Luxembourg because he had not been given his usual cookie and
ginger ale; how Caroline had presented India's Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
with a rose for his buttonhole; and what she said when reporters asked what her
father was doing. "Oh, he's upstairs with his shoes and socks off," she said,
"not doing anything."
By restricting photographs and limiting access to her children, Mrs.
Kennedy sought to protect them from the effects of so much concentrated
attention. She established a kindergarten at home, as had Mrs. Cleveland, so
that Caroline and little John could play with children of their own age, away
from the public eye.