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First Ladies Come Alive with Elaine Flynn

Gale Curcio
By Gale Curcio
Posted on Dec 29,2011
Filed Under News , Community,

Photo by Gale Curcio<br /> <br />Jody Wharton and Elaine Flynn.
Photo by Gale Curcio
Jody Wharton and Elaine Flynn.

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - Elaine Flynn has taken her love of history and created "Fascinating Facts about our First Ladies."
Recently, using the voice of Theodore Roosevelt's daughter Alice, Flynn gave a presentation to a group at Sherwood Regional Library, taking the group through the ages, telling colorful stories about some of the more interesting and colorful First Ladies.
Complete with props and costumes (which she asks audience members to don), Flynn delivers an animated and participatory lesson in history.

Photo by Gale Curcio<br /> <br />Elaine Flynn dresses as Alice Roosevelt to give her presentation on the First Ladies.
Photo by Gale Curcio
Elaine Flynn dresses as Alice Roosevelt to
give her presentation on the First Ladies.

Throughout her presentation, she injected her witty and clever comments about each of these women.
Alice doesn’t dwell on her step-mother, Edith Roosevelt, because they didn’t get along very well. Before her wedding, Edith said, “I just want you to know I’m glad to see you go – you’ve been nothing but trouble.”
The life of Francis Cleveland, wife of President Grover Cleveland, is embellished with an audience member donning her wedding gown which she wore during a ceremony in the White House. Audience members also receive Baby Ruth candy bars, named after their daughter, Ruth Cleveland.
Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, is brought back to life with a cap, lace and shawl. She holds a feathered pen which she used to correspond to her husband when he was abroad.
Dolly Madison, wife of James Madison, was one of the more colorful First Ladies. She is represented wearing a boa and turban.
She was known for her parlor politics and for her ‘Wednesday Night Squeezes,’ which she referred to as, ‘making politics one cup of tea at a time.’
Flynn compares Madison and Jacqueline Kennedy, noting that they both set the style for America; both gave great parties; and they both brought America back after horrific events.
Jacqueline, represented with a pill box hat, white gloves and pearls, started the White House Historical Association, and Flynn takes us through White House with slides of some of the rooms that were redecorated by Jacqueline.
Helen Taft, married to William Howard Taft, brought cherry blossoms to the US, because she was so inspired when she visited Japan. Taft was the heaviest president and once got stuck in the bathtub. The seventh inning stretch during baseball games was started when he stood up during a game and stretched – everybody followed suit. Props for Helen are a pink toile crown, shawl and fan.
Woodrow Wilson was married to Ellen Wilson for 30 years, but she died after a year in White house. He remarried Edith Wilson, who was virtually in charge of the White House after Wilson had a stroke.
Eleanor Roosevelt, with fur collar and pearls, was best known as “the eyes, ears and legs of Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

Photo by Gale Curcio<br /> <br />Audience members play the part of First Ladies during her presentation with Elaine Flynn (middle).
Photo by Gale Curcio
Audience members play the part of First
Ladies during her presentation with Elaine
Flynn (middle).

Eleanor said, “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”
Alice Roosevelt goes on to talk about Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton and Flynn once again shows her wit, when she has Alice talk about how things have changed since she was alive.
“Is it true it’s difficult to get into the White House today?” said Alice. “When father was inaugurated, people simply lined up to get in the White House.
“My, my, my – and wouldn’t he be astonished that a great-great granddaughter of slaves [Michelle Obama] is the First lady today? And former First Lady, Hillary Clinton – making a run for the presidency and now secretary of state? And two women secretary of state before her?”
Arleen Richter was in the audience and said, “Elaine loves her subject [First Ladies]. You can just feel her passion for the first ladies.”
“Elaine's ability to engage the audience and weave interesting facts about the First Ladies is fun and fascinating,” said Jody Wharton.
Flynn lives and breathes Washington. She graduated from American University and now lives in nearby Alexandria, Virginia.
She decided years ago to become a tour guide and took to learning more about Washington, DC with a vengeance, becoming a docent at many historic homes.
Elaine has been a licensed DC guide and member of the Guild of Professional Tour Guides for 12 years. She has served as a docent at a variety of locations including: Woodlawn Plantation, Carlyle House, the Heurich Mansion, the Capitol and Gadsby’s Tavern.
As a guide she has conducted city tours and specialty tours for groups of all ages from all over the world. Her specialty tours included: Ghosts of Lafayette Square and the Gilded Age of Embassy Row.
She has presented to Quantico Marine Corp Base, EPA, IRS, AARP, Department of the Interior and the Girl Scouts of America. Flynn was even invited to Greenland, where she presented to a group at Thule Air Force.
She has appeared on Time Travel in Virginia TV Show where she was advised she would be asked about the Presidents from Virginia.
She has been called “Guide to the Stars” and has taken luminaries such as the internationally acclaimed musician, John Tesh, National Basketball Association star, Carlos Boozer and the crew of America’s Funniest Videos on tour.
For more information, contact Our Town Topics at 703-282-4211,

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