The only President's child born in the White House was Esther Cleveland,
the second daughter of Grover and
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
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 elevator.
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 Eisenhower grandchildren 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.