..Jon Simonds..

The White House

As the 44th President of the United States prepares to take up residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I couldn't help but wonder how it is the White House came by its name. While I've driven past the White House, I've never spent a night inside. In searching for the origin of its name, I was surprised to find that this is something I share in common with the father of our country, George Washington. Our nation's first president chose the site of the White House and oversaw its construction, but he never lived there, as it didn't officially open until 1800.

John Adams, our second president, was the first president to actually reside in the White House. He lived there with his wife, Abigail. I don't know how useful that information is, unless of course, you're a Jeopardy fanatic and the Final Jeopardy is, "How many of our 44 Presidents resided in the White House?" I would have put 44, but now I know it's 43.

James Hoban is credited with being the original designer. Mr. Hoban was Irish born. He studied architecture at the Dublin Society School. I'm not exactly sure when he came to the United States but he submitted an entry for the design of a Presidential Palace that proved to be the winning ticket.

His design was based on the Leinster House located in Dublin, Ireland. This may have proven to be too much for the British Empire to endure. Some twelve years after it's completion, the English burned the Presidential Palace to the ground, during the War of 1812. I guess it was one thing to be evicted by the Colonists and a whole other thing to have an Irishman design and build a Presidential Palace based on a house in Dublin. The War of 1812 ended in a stalemate. The British, probably satisfied with the destruction of the Palace, signed a treaty with the Americans and the whole thing has since been forgotten.

Did you know there are 35 bathrooms in the White House? As one who has never been inside the White House, I can't really say that they are all full bathrooms, which is to say, each bathroom contains a shower and a tub, but I feel pretty secure in assuming that there are at least 35 toilets in the White House. I imagine that every toilet has a toilet roll hanger, which means at any given time there are 35 rolls of toilet paper available to whomever it is that happens to be occupying the White House in any given term.

I envy the occupants of the White House. My house has two bathrooms and sometimes both bathrooms are occupied by other members of the family. You could absolutely die waiting for one of them to be free and I don't have to remind you of how awful an experience it can be, racing into a bathroom, vacated by someone who probably ate something they shouldn't have, the night before. Imagine 35 bathrooms.

Of course, I couldn't afford to stock 35 bathrooms. I usually buy my toilet paper at Wal-mart and pay nearly ten dollars for a bundle of 24 rolls. A bundle of 24 is not enough for a house of 35. It isn't hard to see why our deficit keeps soaring. It doesn't matter how many line items are cut. It's the little things that are killing us.

I wonder if each bathroom has it's own separate plunger? Bathrooms are never without their problems and I know I have a plunger for both of my bathrooms. Is there a plunger in each bathroom in the White House and if there is, are they merely plungers or are they referred to as Presidential Plungers? Are they designed with the Presidential Seal on the inside of the plunger and, more importantly, are they the usual rubbery colored plungers or are they color coordinated to match the themes of each bathroom?

What happens when the plunger doesn't quite work? When plungers fail, do they call a plumber to the White House? Wouldn't that be something, to be a plumber called to the White House? Do you just sort of walk in to the White House, or, is it more like trying to board an airplane at an airport? Are their metal detectors? Do you go through the pat-down and then get seated at a table as they go through the plumbers bag of tools?

Eventually, they would have to clear the plumber. They probably walk him over to some Secretary who looks at the plumber and says something like, "Gee. They never really said which bathroom."

Plumbers bill an hourly rate, don't they? I imagine Joe the Plumber could repay his back taxes in all the time it would take to find the right bathroom. It's not as if this President doesn't know him.

"Honey. Can we get Joe the Plumber in here? Last night's pasta, didn't set so well with me."

I didn't know that the White House wasn't initially called the White House. Originally, it was called the Presidents House, or, referred to as the Presidential Palace. Sometimes it was called the Executive Mansion. As a matter of fact, it wasn't until 1902 when Theodore Roosevelt adopted the name, White House, that it was officially called by the name that it is today.

While there is no factual document tracing the roots of the name, White House, legend has it that it was so called the White House as early as 1811, when some reference was made to clouds hovering over the dome. Other sources credit the name with the white coat of paint it was given when the Presidents House was rebuilt, after being burnt down by the British, in the war of 1812. Other sources claim it may have taken its name after The White House Plantation, the home of Martha Custis Washington in New Kent County, Virginia. This would be the place where George and Martha first courted.

I've considered this for a long time and with all the attention given to being politically correct, I'm not sure it is fitting to continue calling it the White House. After all, plantations were manned and worked by slaves and on the chance that this was named after the White House Plantation in Virginia, maybe it is time to consider renaming the White House. It's not like this President would be the first President to adopt a new name. How's that for bringing real change?

And finally, there is the question of what would you call the White House. Perhaps we could use this opportunity of renaming the White House to help pay for that 85 billion dollar loan we doled out to save Wall Street. I'm sure there are plenty of sponsors who would line up for such an honor. After all, the Houston Astros reside in Minute-Maid Park. There's Pet-Co Park in beautiful San Diego.

Why not have a sponsor for the house at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? I'll bet Charmin would like that. "Leaders of the G-8 met in the Rose Garden of The Charmin today." Don't you think Charmin would like that? They are so squeezably soft and, after all, there's still all those bathrooms to consider.

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