tv The Presidency CSPAN May 10, 2015 12:00pm-12:56pm EDT
the release of your citizens in iran. on tuesday they will vote on whether to advance trade commodity -- trade authority promotion. >> the new congressional directory is a handy guide to the 114th congress with color photos of every member and bio and contact information as well as twitter handles district maps, a look at the capitol hill, and it look at congressional committees the president's, federal agencies, and state governors. order online today. it is -- it is $13.95 at www.c-span.org. tonight on c-span's q&a. kate anderson brower on the world of the white house through the eyes of the people who work there, from the kennedys through the obama's. >> who are the thick lens -- thicklands? >> they are an incredible
family. nine members of the family have worked at the white house. i talked to one of the butlers who works every week at the white house. his uncle was the head butler. he told me my uncle ram the white house. they brought him in when he was 17 years old in 1959 during the eisenhower administration. he is still working there. he described how he used to work in the kitchen and they kept on giving him ice scream -- ice cream because he was skinny. it is incredible he remembers how the eisenhower's word. they are a dying breed. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's "q&a." >> over the next four hours, we
are giving you a special mother's day presentation with the children and grandchildren of former first ladies, sharing tales of life in the white house. we begin with the grand daughter of lou hoover, the grandson of breast truman, and a daughter betty ford. >> good evening everyone and thank you for being here. it is always a pleasure to be here. if what happened in the last few minutes back there isn't it -- is any indication, this will be a lot of fun tonight. [laughter] we are going to be talking about three enormously different and enormously important first ladies. they span a large part of this country's history in very different times for each of them. we're very excited and very proud to have these three first family representatives here. it's kind of a unique club. there aren't a lot of them around.
to have them all here tonight is certainly a tribute to the foundation, to the library, and to the ford family. we appreciate you bringing this here to grand rapids again. another excellent program. thank you all for being here. i'll start with you, margaret. margaret hoover, whose great-grandmother was lou henry hoover. and clifton truman daniel whose grandmother was bess truman. and of course everybody knows that susan's mom was betty ford. each of them served in those unique and very interesting times. i want to start with you margaret, because yours is the longest span between great-grandmother and yourself yet you have a lot of interesting insights about a woman who served in what was a very difficult presidency. margaret: she did indeed. thank you, first, to susan for inviting us here tonight. thank you, rick, for hosting and to the foundation for hosting us all here. it's really a privilege to be
here in grand rapids and see the museum and library for the first time. we have done this a little in the past together clifton , susan, and i. so forgive us, we may jest a little in between the three of us. to lou henry hoover, my great-grandmother who i never knew, was born in 1874 in waterloo, iowa, was raised in california, and died in the waldorf historia where she died with my great grandfather in 1944. she died 20 years before he died. and you're right. she was in the white house during a really difficult time. and her legacy as a first lady is little known partly because her papers weren't opened until 1984, 20 years after herbert hoover's death. and she's lost a bit in the shadow of the great depression and herbert hoover's reputation as this was the worst economic
calamity and the worst calamity the country had gone for since the civil war up to that point. and what i have learned about my great grandmother and what i'm really passionate about is sharing her story and her legacy, because she was a pioneering woman -- and i don't mean in the literal sense -- but much like bess was and betty ford was, she broke the mold of her time. hopefully i'll have more time to tell her about her time in the white house. i don't want to go on and on. how her time in the white house and her life was such an extraordinarily -- so hard to pigeon hole and stereotype. in many ways, i think she created a model that eleanor roosevelt then filled. and we think of eleanor roosevelt as an activist first lady. but lou henry hoover absolutely was an activist first lady and she had lived her life
consistently up to and after the presidency. rick: i have to make a disclaimer here before we go to clifton. the first president of the united states that i ever met was gerald ford. i met him in 1976 at the republican convention in kansas city. the first president i ever saw was harry truman at his home in independence. i grew up 90 miles south of independence, missouri, and as a fellow missourian, take great pride in harry truman. so i want you to tell me about perhaps one of the most reluctant first ladies that ever was in bess truman. clifton: market was talking about activists first ladies and then you have my grandmother the anti-activist first lady. >> but we loved her. clifton: i loved this too but , there's no getting around it. she was -- first of all, when she got into the white house the first thing she did was cancel eleanor roosevelt's weekly press conferences. she just wasn't going to do the same thing. further, she issued a succinct
biography, this nice, little short half page biography. she wouldn't talk to anybody beyond that. and she requested that all press questions come to her after that in writing. and to each one of these questions to almost every one of them she replied "no comment." [laughter] so she -- not quite the openness there. she said early on in my grandfather's career that she thought the role of a political wife was to sit next to her husband, keep quiet, and make sure her hat was on straight. [laughter] that said, she didn't quite do that. my grandmother was very interested in my grandfather's career. she was very interested in politics. she was good at it. she understood it. she liked the game. i think she kind of liked being off to the side in the game, so she didn't actually have to participate, but she really enjoyed hearing what was going on in his life and helping him when she could. she wound up -- i wrote a book last year with my grandmother's letters. letters she had written to my
grandfather that my mother had -- my mother had not published when she was alive and then left them to me, and i think my mother did that to maintain my grandmother's privacy, but i'm not my mother, i'm a rotten grandchild and i did not care. [laughter] and they're beautiful letters. you have my grandmother reporting to my grandfather that she basically lied to politicians that wanted him to back them on the campaign. just said, "no, he's not going to be home. he can't possibly do it for you." she took part. she was engaged. she was a lot of fun as a first lady, but again compared to lou , and compared to eleanor roosevelt, a very much more behind-the-scenes first lady who spent a lot of time, as i'm sure you all have heard, going back home to missouri and leaving my grandfather alone in the white house.
for good reason. taking care of her family, taking care of her mother, her brothers. she was very much a family orientated first lady, but my grandfather often said in writing and in person had it not been for my grandmother doing those things, holding down the fort and providing that sounding board and stability, he could not have done the job that he did. rick: and unlike mrs. hoover she lived longer than the president. clifton: yes. she outlived grandpa by ten years. she's still the longest lived first lady this country has had. she was 97 when she died. i hope those genes run in the family. [laughter] >> and she also died in new york? clifton: she died in missouri. >> your mother was in new york. clifton my mother was in : chicago. >> your mother lived in -- clifton my family dies all over : the place. [laughter] rick it is nice of them to share : the wealth.
susan, many of us here, of course, are very familiar with your mom. talk to us a little bit again about the person, because that person was developed well before they became first lady, and how they performed in the office has a great deal to do from their early lives and how they were prepared, even if they didn't know they were preparing for that job. susan: well, that is true. there are probably several people in this audience that could tell more things about my mother than i can tell about my mother, because some of you grew up with her and knew her as a young bride or high school or whatever. grand rapids, as you all know, had a lot to do with my mother's character and molded her, is the best way to put it. i think my mother is kind of a cross between bess truman and lou hoover. she was an activist when she wanted to be. and some of you have heard the story of -- she went to a palm reader years ago. this is way before she ever married my dad or right after she married my dad.
they said, you know, you will meet kings and queens. well, to my mother, that meant she was going to dance, because we all know that dance was her love, and she danced with martha graham that she would get to dance in front of kings and queens. little did she know she would meet them at state dinners and host kings and queens at the white house. but mother, as you all know, was -- dance and arts was so important to her. her whole breast cancer, that was not something that she had planned for, but she took it and made it something so positive and was so determined to take a chance at changing women's health care, which she truly did. luckily today, the survival rate is more than 90% from breast cancer, and when she was diagnosed it was in the 70%. she made a huge change in that. and her drug and alcohol. she also was a very private
person and wanted her private time. there were many days that she would sit on the couch and go " i don't want to get dressed and go shake another hand or be that public persona," which is probably more the bess truman in her. she loved it. she did a great job with it. and she only had 2 1/2 years. i think she would have been a fabulous first lady for another chance at it. who knows what she would have done with that. it would have been interesting to see where she would have gone with another four years. rick: in both the case of your mother and your grandmother, this was unexpected. that they were thrust into the role of first lady in very difficult circumstances. it is hard to overstate, in the case of the death of franklin roosevelt. sue the resignation of richard
nixon. how it impacted the country. -- certainly the resignation of richard nixon how it impacted the country. did that put more pressure on them to be more forthcoming or more -- show more strength or resolve for the country? was that part of the task that was laid on them in that unexpected moment? susan: well, i think in mother's situation, the country was in such unrest, and the american people didn't trust the presidency. this was a death situation which is a little bit different. so in a sense, they're very different situations. mother just kind of stopped in -- i think she just slid in went i will lay low, and deal my feelers out and do it that sort of way. bess's was a little bit different, because a death is different. clifton: i think my grandmother,
while conscious of what she was stepping into, was also stubborn and wasn't going to let it change her. she was going to do her job, but she was not going to let it rule her. there's pictures -- she knew what she was getting into in the 1944 democratic convention in chicago, when my grandfather was nominated to be on the ticket with president roosevelt. everybody was happy about that except my grandmother. and there are pictures of my mother and my grandfather waving and shaking hands and just everything is good and my grandmother is over there like this. [laughter] "damn it." [laughter] clifton: just knowing -- it was a funny thing with president roosevelt. everybody knew how sick he was but everybody denied how sick he was. there was a whole -- she knew
and knew what was likely to happen and that was not something that she really wanted. rick: it's well to remember this wasn't their first rodeo. they had been in politics for a long time. she knew what this was like and just on a bigger stage. margaret, talk to me about your great-grandmother. now you're in the white house. now you're the first lady. from what you've been able to find, what was her impression of what her role was to be? margaret: she saw it as an enormous opportunity. a couple of things, in terms of the role with the president. my great-grandfather was not an outwardly gregarious or public ly charismatic figure. he was orphaned when he was 9 years old. he had -- and this fundamentally changes how you interface with the world. she was a very gregarious, outgoing, engaging personality. so in many ways she was the first lady to give public
addresses on the radio. i think she saw her role, always with him, as helping to soften him with his friends, in his work, and with the presidency as well. but she also understood there was a role for the first lady and i think she was very cognizant of that. you see that in her letters. one of the things she did and it was not replicated until jackie kennedy came into office she was , the first first lady to ever take a full and complete inventory of all of the furniture and the white house paintings and property. all of the things that were assembled in the white house from the time of george washington onward had never been cataloged or appraised or documented. she took this task on. this is one of the things she did. she was an academic in her own right. she had helped translate a book -- this is one of her early accomplishments. she was the first woman to graduate with a degree in geology in the united states. she was in the third class at stanford. by the way, a woman of the
victorian era who broke all of the molds. studied. went to school. studied really untraditional things. rocks. geology. mining. >> that's not even fun now. [laughter] margaret: and so, the bible that they -- the bible of mining was this tome published in the 16th century all in latin and had never been adequately translated. she and my great-grandfather dedicated five years of their live to translating this tome, having to collect the latin books written at the same time to reconstruct techniques that were used for mining in the 16th century, because words were made up because they didn't know the latin words for the specific techniques, and frankly there probably wasn't latin words for some of these specific technologies in the 16th century when the romans were around. they had to collect an entire library of books that ended up serving as the basis of the harvey mudd collection on geology.
they donated them all. she was an academic on her own right. this is a skill she took to catalog and inventory all the furnishings of the white house. which then jackie kennedy took on when she created the white house historical association. rick: a side note, you may not know this. she was born in illinois? margaret: waterloo, iowa. rick: sorry, iowa. they ended up back in iowa. how did she get to california? margaret: her father had health problems in iowa and moved to california for the climate when she was quite young. 5, 6, 7. she was really raised in california. first in whittier and then in monterey bay. she grew up with pack mules. her father had two daughters and wanted a son. he treated lou like a son. she loved the outdoors. actually got very involved in the girl scouts later on in her life and spent probably 40 years. all of the time, when she returned to the united states
until her death, the girl scouts was her primary cause. she said she had been a scout her whole life, because she grew up camping and spent times outdoors and she wanted girls especially in the victorian era and beyond to get outside and to enjoy and be more than ornamental. rick: wasn't she good with a gun too? margaret: she did have a few pistols. and they're in the library. she was a hunter. she was an equestrian. she was a marksman. she was -- thank you. yes. really dynamic. rick: if you're going to be president it's good to have one , of those. >> you might need it. >> i'll remind you if you haven't sent up your questions , because obviously we would like to hear them answer what -- but i want to ask interesting in that time you would move from iowa to california. it's not as easy as it is today. whereas your grandmother was
born, raised, and died in the same house essentially. wasn't that house in independence the family home? clifton: born in a different house. rick: very nearby. clifton: the house that we know as truman home was her grandfather's house originally. george porterfield gates built that house. bought the house -- the house dates back to pre-civil war. >> it's a great house. clifton: it's like one story. in 1885, george porterfield gates, who had made a good living of the wagoner gates milling company and was one of the wealthiest men in town just add it all to the victorian -- built it up from what it was. she was born in her parents' house, which was nearby, but spent much of her life in the gates house in what became the truman home. her father committed suicide when she was 18 years old.
the family first went to colorado for a year. the stigma being much worse in those days. everybody left town for a year and then came back and moved in with her grandfather, and that's the house she called home for the rest of her life. 20 -97, 77 years in that house. >> that event really shaped -- we talked about this. it shaped about how bess interacted with the press and the public, because of the experience she went through when she was so young. clifton: and my grandfather was very careful because of that. of her because of that. he didn't want that coming out. her father was, in many respects, a wonderful guy. apparently, his funeral in independence was one of the biggest the town had ever seen. he would give you the shirt off his back. he was just a nice, nice human being. he never had the career he wanted. he was a politician. a would-be politician. son of a former mayor of independence.
he never could seem to make headway, and he was never really a temperate man, and as things got worse, he was always in debt. borrowing money from his father-in-law, which is very hard for him. and as things got worse and worse, he drank more and more and woke up one morning in 1903 and got dressed and went to the bathroom upstairs in the house and put a gun to his head. and nobody saw it coming. in those days, you -- madge gates wallace his wife, a dutiful wife of the time, did not question what condition he was in. where the money was coming from. what was going on. she nursed him through one hangover after another and everybody was absolutely stunned when he killed himself. my grandmother was furious. she loved him dearly. he was her best friend. he left without a word, without an explanation, and she was hurt by that the rest of her life. that's where some of -- quite a
lot of the privacy comes from. rick: that's an interesting insight. and then to move to betty ford and the almost diametrically opposed way that she dealt with some very personal, hurtful issues in her life, where bess truman and the president were willing enough to keep her pulled back. of course, it was a different time, too. by the 1970s, your mom broke the mold when it came to talking to the press. in fact, being a member of not covering at that point, she may have given up more information than they knew what to do with at times. [laughter] susan: and more information than i would have liked out for some things. i mean, the whole breast cancer issue -- i am so grateful that she opened up and was honest about that and what she's done to change women's health care.
and just the fact that she didn't say 'i'm having female problems.' the press wouldn't -- the press back then wouldn't have said 'so tell us the truth. what's really going on?' the press would not have done that then. she could have gotten away with saying 'female problems.' but she also gave them details of that that she had a mastectomy. how much lymph node involvement there was an all of those things. the other side of it is when she did the -- interview and said i wouldn't be surprised if my daughter had an affair. [laughter] we could have left that alone, because of the boys lined up at the gate, going you got a hussy of a daughter out there. [laughter] >> as we were joking, i think i was one of them. [laughter] >> clifton and i are the same age.
he was kind of lurking after me. that's why i say there's -- >> stalker. [laughter] >> so, i mean, i'm sure my brother, jack, would have preferred mother not admitting that her son had smoked dope and done all of those kind of things. mom, really? do have you to share all of the details? and we were criticized for wearing blue jeans. criticized for wearing blue jeans. we were criticized for wearing fur coats, which would still be criticized today. what else? i mean, who knows. but, oh well. betty chose to live her life on her sleeve, and thank god she did, because her country is a better place because of it. and it has set a wonderful example for other first ladies to follow and have left the door open. rick: margaret, we may not be familiar with your great grandmother but other contemporary first ladies, but
tell us something that would surprise her. and feel free with questions. margaret: i bet unless you study lou henry hoover, you don't know she was the first first lady ever to invite an african-american woman to tea. and it caused a tremendous scandal. it was called the depriest incident. she was the wife of congressman depriest, who had been elected from chicago. an african-american couple, and it was the tradition that first ladies always invited members of congress' wives to tea. they were quakers and socially progressive in the context of their day on this issue. they knew it would or could be a scandal. they try to handle it in the right way and they decided to go ahead with it because this would be a good move for the country. it did create an outrage. to make her feel better, my great-grandfather, the next day invited her husband to the white , house. it's the first time an
african-american was invited to the white house publicly. teddy roosevelt invited booker t. washington but it was a a secret meeting. rick: interesting. what are some surprises -- there are probably some interesting facts and what would surprise us the most about bess truman? -- >> i have so many favorite bess truman stories. clifton: thank on market got to that before i did. no it's a good story. , my grandparents were very, very close. hated being apart. my grandmother did leave him in the white house very often. left him in blair house in the second administration. as i'm sure most of you know the , white house was rotten on the inside. that, by the way, is a reflection of the structure and not -- [laughter] thank you. so they had to rebuild the whole thing. they lived at blair house for 3
1/2 years. my grandmother went back to independence to care for her mother. there was always a tug-of-war. my grandmother was the rope. my grandfather was at the one and on his mother-in-law was at the other and they were constantly pulling her back and forth. my grandmother went back to independence. she was gone for a couple of months. when she returned, the head usher, mr. fields, reported that it was just like sunshine breaking into blair house. everybody -- my grandparents were so thrilled to be with each other again that it just lit up the whole room. the staff would just -- everybody was walking on clouds. it was just fantastic. my grandmother came down the next day after her return, and she took mr. fields aside. and she said we have an issue upstairs. there is a -- in the room, there is -- it's -- oh hell, fields. one of the slats on the bed is broken. [laughter]
>> her grandchildren. o -- [laughter] clifton: so there is a surprise about -- >> do not ask me that question because i cannot talk about it. [laughter] [laughter] >> really, this is a great opportunity. >> there is a whole bunch. rick: this is a great question for all of you. this is a just to everybody, i think. it will be very different for each one of you, because it is how did being a first first family -- first -- first family, first grandchild, first
great-grandchild. how did that affect you? susan, you and i have talked here on the stage before. it truly does have an impact even as it goes further down the family tree, obviously with your mother and her career and now with you and your career and you know, all of this does have an impact. how does it affect you, being one of the firsts? susan: well, i guess it affects me differently in different ways. of course, in grand rapids, i'm more recognized, more acknowledged, more people know me as betty and jerry's daughter. most people don't call me bales. they call me susan ford. or susan ford bales. and on the other side of that, to me, this is somewhat home, because this is where my cousins are. this is where my grandmother was. this is where my parents were raised. this has more of a home feeling to it.
at home in tulsa, i am waldo and cecil bales' daughter-in-law. my father-in-law who just passed away recently, was city attorney. so everyone goes so you belong to waldo and cecil. it's refreshing. nothing against it. it is just very refreshing to be known for something else besides my own parents and so proud of my in-laws. i can hide when i want to hide which is the nice part, and be dirty and grungy. i go to the gym and nobody knows who i am at the gym. i'm dirty and grungy just like everybody else. and then, you know, you can get dressed up and put the contacts in and take the glasses off and you play the other role. i guess that's the biggest thing. i can come and go in it as i please, and that's nice. i guess -- i would not want to
be a first daughter in today's society because of the 24/7 news cycle. it would be miserable. i think it would be really miserable. i don't know. i just assume. clifton: just thinking, when she's talking about dirty and grungy, that's how we walked around key west. susan: if you go to key west you can hide too. clifton: we were supposed to go for a photo op and then we had shorts on and hair sticking out because we went out the night before and i thought i was the only one. susan walked in and, thank god. [laughter] rick: i should point out they did one of these recently in key west. surprisingly, i wasn't invited to that one. >> next year. rick: i'll be there. i'll be there. clifton: i am actually -- no one is more surprised that i take such a role in my grandparents' legacy as i am. i never intended to sit on the board of the truman library and to be its honorary chairman.
i worked with the white house in key west. i worked, until recently, for truman college in chicago. what happened? everything has truman on it. as a teenager, god, you have the chopped liver syndrome. everyone says your grandfather was wonderful. what am i? chopped liver? [laughter] and you really -- especially as a teenager, because you have these people who want to talk to you just because you were related to somebody more famous than you. i went through the whole "i wanted to be famous too," so i thought i would be an actor. [laughter] that worked really well. >> you have a career in standup comedy. [laughter] >> you should see him. clifton: on limited venues. [laughter] just presidential libraries. i have 13 gigs a year. [laughter] but that i do this and i take such a role and that i've
written books about my grandparents. i think what surprises me is that i'm really interested and i really enjoy it. i enjoy them as people. i have come to enjoy the presidency through them and history through them. it was something that i ran in the complete opposite direction from for years and then it just caught up to me. >> none of your brothers have any interest either. clifton: no. >> you're the lone ranger. [laughter] clifton: yeah. well, my youngest brother, thomas, when you prevail upon him to go to something, he's been to that event in marshfield. he enjoys it, but he's a computer programmer. he makes everything else run while i'm out front. so -- surprised. and happily so. but every once in a while i go good god, what happened? >> there's no doubt about it that it's a very different experience for first generation,
second generation, and third generation. i agree with you. i think a lot of the bush girls, chelsea -- i think the obama girls are sheltered a little bit from it, which is nice. the press has stayed away. you know, you guys didn't have a choice in this matter. these are choices that your parents made long before you and this was something that you patriotically did. and it involved a huge amount of sacrifice that was thrust upon you, and then you gracefully accepted. i think my dad's experience was more like yours, clifton. by the time you get down to my generation, if you're involved at all, it's because it's a passion project. it's because you're interested and it's because, in my case, i think there's an incredible american story to tell about herbert hoover and lou henry hoover. and i'm frankly just interested in american history and i love this country and i think our story needs to be told. the american story needs to be told. lou henry hoover and herbert
hoover had an incredible and unique journey through the american tapestry. it inspired me. a book that i wrote that came out last july was named after a book my grandfather wrote in 1922 and the ideas that he espoused are extraordinarily relevant still to the way we , see politics today. it's called "american individualism." by the time you get down to me susan talks -- i'm so delighted to hear susan say when she's in tulsa she can be susan ford or susan ford bales or susan bales. and sort of choose. that's incredible. i didn't even know that was possible for a child of a president. certainly by the time you get down to me, it's only sort of a matter of interest. a couple of us have expressed interest and are quite active, but it's a choice. rick: this is a great question. if you could ask your
great-grandmother any question what would it be? margaret: you know, i think i would personally -- i would ask her some girly stuff, because that's the one thing she didn't write about and didn't get saved. rick: quantify girly stuff? [laughter] margaret: i would want to know what it was like to be a woman -- what was it like to be a woman in london at the beginning of world war i? she and mike great grandfather - helped organize really for the belgians and for the citizens of northern france and fed 10 million belgians a day for the course of the war. she was intimately involved in helping him get that operation up and running. but she was a woman. women really didn't run inter -- really didn't run enterprises like that. they were -- in the same way that both of your relatives were, i think they had a partnership, but in the context
of the time when women really didn't do some of the things that lou was quite good at, i would be curious to know what it was like as a woman doing the things she did at the time she did. rick: clifton this is not one of , the questions we got from the audience, but one i promised myself i would ask you tonight. it's a story about your grandfather and your mother. your mother, while your grandfather was in the white house, would occasionally perform. publicly. clifton: occasionally. rick: and on one particular occasion there was a story that i would like for you to shed light on. >> by perform we should clarify. she's an incredible vocalist. rick: i'm sorry. [laughter] >> she had an incredible voice. clifton: >> thank you, margaret. >> who would have thought -- >> this is getting out of control here. >> we've done this too many times. >> it was in key west the last time. performance has a different -- rick: she was singing.
a review was written that your grandfather didn't like. clifton: that is right. the review -- she was singing at constitution hall in 1950. the review was written by paul hume of "the washington post." and mr. hume said some unkind things about my mother's singing ability. rick: some very unkind things. clifton: yes. "she's flat a good deal of the time" was one of the phrases. my grandfather read that the next morning. the korean war -- i don't know if the korean war had started. so i can't say that. that would be very dramatic. but anyway, i do know that his oldest friend in the world charlie ross, his press secretary, had died the morning of that concert at his desk of a massive heart attack. grandpa was not in a good mood. here comes this review. so he sat down, and he wrote out a letter to mr. hume. about a page and a half.
he said some very unkind things. and the end of the letter said "i would like to meet you in person some day. when i do, you will need steaks for black eyes, a new nose, and perhaps a supporter below." [laughter] and he just sealed it up in an envelope and put a stamp on it and gave it to mr. fields and said stick that in the post office box on your way out, so it got past the pr people who would have liked to have burned it. as an adjunct to that story, my mother always said that those letters -- and the mail, the response mail ran 80 to 20 in grandpa's favor after that. he predicted that he was going to be backed up on this by fathers across the country. a few years ago, i gave a lecture at a retirement home in evanston, illinois. during the question and answer period at the end of the night a lady put her hand up. i was talking about this story. a lady put her hand up.
said, "yes, ma'am." -- i said, "yes, ma'am." she said ," i used to accompany paul hume." i'm a little slow. i said, "accompany him where?" she said, "no, no, no. i used to play piano for him." i said, "whoa, you mean he sang?" she said, "oh, yes." i said, really?" i have to ask. how was he?" she said, "like a cow mooing." [laughter] and i ran home. i called my mother. i told her. i said like a cow mooing. and there was dead silence on the other end of the line. my mother was laughing so hard she dropped the phone. she got a little bit of it back. mr. hume, to his credit, was an excellent music critic. he had a wonderful long -- a fabulous career. he was a well respected,
wonderful man. tarnished for life by one bad letter. rick: susan, this is a question for all of you and from someone in the audience. you touched on this briefly when you were talking about chelsea and when you were talking about bush daughters and now with the obamas. in any circumstance, would any of you fathom living in the white house today? given the massive changes in the way the white house is covered? as i said, you touched on it a minute ago. susan: i think everybody would understand it. it all depends how old you are. i was a senior in high school and a freshman in college. you really couldn't ask for the worst time, age-wise. that's a difficult time. i know there's lots of mothers out there who are trying to survive this age with their daughters. so to begin with, it's a difficult time.
i think the obama girls have done a fabulous job, and they've been very well protected. it's a little bit easier, because of their age, you can protect them. i was driving cars and cutting loose and getting in -- trying to get out of trouble and not get caught getting in trouble would be a better way to put it. and being the fourth child mother and dad were so tired by the time i came along that they just does [laughter] well, i mean, it was one of these that i was dating a guy who went to virginia tech, and so i would go down to virginia tech on the weekends, and mother and dad assumed that i was safe and behaving. [laughter] rick: they assumed that but you had secret service protection. susan: i had my girlfriends, barbara and them with me. we would get a group of girls and share one hotel room for the weekend. my parents assumed the secret service had me protected and nothing was going wrong. all of those things.
what they didn't realize is that's not the secret service's job to stop me from doing anything, it's to protect me from anyone harming me. [laughter] so let's put it in perspective. >> jim beam. [laughter] susan: drinking age in virginia was 21 then. i was drinking. i will admit that. so, i think it's an age issue. i think that's the biggest way to handle it. margaret: something that -- the criticism that came of your mother of her singing. and this is something you endured as well. when you're a child or a daughter in the white house, you haven't volunteered for that service, but you are on the firing line for ardent criticisms from the press that are blatantly unfair. i know in the past you have shared a few stories about that. i know that's, you know, something that may be worse now. i don't know.
you would be the one most qualified to answer that. susan: it is one of those -- and my mother said this and i think first ladies have continued this sense. we did not choose to be here. our family did not choose to be here. leave my kids alone. let them be kids. let them grow up. when we're being criticized for blue jeans and driving fast cars and jack smoking dope and, you know, we were not perfect children. we were normal children trying to grow up. i think that's the biggest thing that i look at it with the obama girls. leave them alone. they're just trying to be kids. let them be kids. they just happen to live in a really nice house, and their dad is a public servant. my dad had been in congress for 25 years. i had grown up in washington. i didn't have to change cities. my heart goes out to those girls. they have had to change schools.
lucy johnson and i have had long talks about it. she was at national cathedral. i was at holton. but most of these kids come in and they have to change schools and find new friends. i didn't have to do that. so every situation is a little bit different. so it's just -- leave them alone. just let them be kids and try to grow up. rick: there is also the other side of the street, and when former president george w. bush was on the stage a few months ago, he said to you that you two particularly were part of a very small club being the children of the president of the united states. and how difficult it is as children or family members to hear people criticize your father or the president of the united states. president bush said -- i'm paraphrasing -- he didn't care when he was in office or he could take that, but he would get furious when people would criticize his father. did your mother ever talking about that? because all presidents get
criticized. clifton: oh, my god. [laughter] the first story that pops into my head didn't have to do with criticism during the 1948 campaign. apparently the only three people in the country who believed my grandfather could win were him my grandmother, and my mother. [laughter] a new york times photographer was taking my mother's picture as she came out of the adams hotel in washington. and she's going to a car, and photographers being very courtly in those days, he's backing up and taking pictures, and when he got close enough to open the car door, he held the car door open for her and as she got in he said to her through the window. "geez, it doesn't look real good for your dad." and mom grabbed the door out of his hands, leaned through the window and said "you have no faith" and slammed the door and took off. so, you know, there you go.
>> i mean, i can say, having witnessed from previous generations being related to the guy who was most vilified in the 20th century, in terms of the president who was most vilified -- that pain and that criticism is really hurtful and it is intergenerational. to the sense that -- because the kids didn't ask to be in the white house. the kids didn't ask for that life. but they take on that pain. when their parents are criticized, they internalize that, and it can shape an entire family's perspective for multiple generations. i have to say i certainly saw that in my grandmother and my grandfather and my dad, and frankly, you know, in my own way, i sort of took on a defensive nature about my great-grandfather early on just because that was the posture of the hoovers. we were defensive about hoover because we wanted to prove that there's this whole other side of him that the country didn't know. and maybe the great depression wasn't all his fault which, fortunately, economic history
and historians are beginning -- the narrative is beginning to change and i think be more accurate. but, you know, i think that pain is a pain that, i mean, you guys can attest to it more, but i've certainly seen it in the levels in my family. rick: -- clifton: that's one of the reasons that margaret and i are friends, because my grandfather and her great-grandfather were such good friends, because my grandfather knew that president hoover or had not -- hoover had not started or perpetuated the depression. margaret: harry truman invited him back within days of being elected to public service and they were friends for years. herbert hoover never forgot harry truman and he absolutely loved them and their friendship was real and love and enduring . and the first time we got together and talked it was about that friendship. clifton: right. margaret: it was because harry truman breached that partisan divide. clifton: he had to invite him back into the white house by writing one of those surreptitious letters and
sticking it in the mail box. [laughter] mr. field must have taken more important correspondence. than the mailbox. >> mr. fields knows way more than we all know. clifton: i believe he has written a book. and i ought to get a copy. rick: we are, unfortunately running rapidly out of time. try it, if you can. margaret i will start in the back and move back this way. the white house years are over. in the case of president truman, he didn't run again. in the case of your family, ran and lost in 1976. and obviously for the hoover family it was a big , disappointment leaving that white house. what was it like for your family? margaret: they immediately went back to the house she had built on stanford university's campus which is now inhabited by the president of stanford. she built the house and designed the house and she wanted to be outdoors and in the west. herbert hoover didn't want to be that far away from the action. and finally they settled on new york after a couple of years
and she went back to the girl scouts and became president, again, of the girl scouts of america. she had been the president in the 1920's. she'd been the one that had gotten mrs. warden -- i'm sorry, mrs. wilson to be the first honorary chairlady of the girl scouts of america. so every first lady since then has been honorary chair lady of the girl scouts of america. henne hoover had been president in the 1920's and she won back and she was president in the 19th 30's and spent a lot of the time devoting herself to charitable service and through organizations. and the salvation army and the girl scouts were her big ones . and when she died suddenly of a heart attack in new york in 1944 in st. bartholomew's cathedral, where they had her funeral, the first three rows were filled with girl scouts in uniform, reserved for girl scouts in uniform. rick: this truman was known to be unhappy when away from washington. clifton: oddly, the opposite is
true. when it came time to retire she wanted to stay in d.c. rick: really? clifton: my grandfather said no. hell no, there's nothing worse than an ex-president hanging around washington. they loved the senate years. my mother -- my grandmother liked her friends and she liked the social life and she just wanted to back off from the white house and go back. she really enjoyed washington which surprised me, too. she went back to independence and went back to her friends and went back to her clubs and went back to community work and all of that and then to retirement. the one thing that surprised her -- my grandfather spent the first -- let's see, he retired in 1953. the truman library was dedicated in 1957. for those four years he was , building a library and had an office and he was -- for their whole married life. he was gone the whole day and worked obnoxious hours. someone once asked my grandfather, what do you do to relax? he said work.
he worked full time and then he moved into the office in the truman library and realized it was only a mile from his house and walked in the door and my grandmother went " "good god! what are you doing here?" [laughter] he said, "i thought i'd come home for lunch." she said, "don't do that and he never did again." [laughter] rick: although his walks were legendary in independence, he would take the morning constitutionals and we have a lot better -- most of us have a much better knowledge of what it was like after the white house for your mom. she stayed very busy for a very long time. susan: she did stay busy. and it was one of those things that -- she continued her breast cancer work which was so important to her and then she got involved and started the betty ford center, which was five minutes away from the house, so she spent a lot of time there for 20-some odd years working with patients. but her -- you know, she continued to speak. she continued -- you know, at that point they hadn't even built the palm springs house. so they built the palm springs house, and she spent a lot of
time alone while he traveled. kind of a similar deal. if he came home for lunch, it was a shock. so she was a very busy woman and was very busy until the end. rick: ladies and gentlemen thank you for being here tonight. i want to thank the ford foundation, the library. i want to thank the ford family, as always, for including me in this. margaret, thank you, clifton susan, what a great panel. i can't wait until we go to key west. [laughter] [applause] >> our special mother's day presentation on first ladies continues in a moment. right now, a look at our current first lady, michelle obama tweeting a photo of her and her mother. the poster reads "every day i am
thankful for your love and support, mom. wishing all the amazing moms out there a #happymothersday." speaker john boehner also taking to twitter, saying "proud to work with so many great moms and moms-to-be." our coverage continues with carolyn kenny -- caroline kennedy. it runs 30 minutes. [applause] >> thank you all for coming. i want to ring the staff of the library and the foundation for the stewardship and