Monday, December 19, 2016

Edith Wilsons Movie Theatre at the White House

Edith decided that movies might help the President. Since the ravages of the stroke Wilson rarely left his bed and Edith needed to give him something to do. Besides the President had liked silent movies before and this seemed a logical way to entertain him and give some routine to the day. So the rug was pulled back in the Red Room of the White House and a projectionist was brought in. Wilson liked Westerns but he didn't want the accompaniment of a piano which was standard in most theatres. For the Edith  Wilson movie house the clicking of the projector would be the only sound.

So they did it. Wilson's Coney Island wheel chair was wheeled down to the Red Room and the curtains pulled. A sheet from the Lincoln bed was pinned to the wall. The chandeliers sparkled with the movie light as silent riders crossed the screen for the old man wrapped in blankets with his head cocked to one side like an expectant bird. Edith sat with him as they watched the movies in the morning and sometimes she would end up talking with her secretary or one of Wilson's assistants. Wilson didn't like films that were too intense so they had to show "mellow Westerns. During one of these conversations the President fell out of his chair in the darkness.

The projectionists was horrified and was convinced he just saw Woodrow Wilson expire. The question was whether to continue the film or let Edith Wilson know her husband had just died. He decided the film must continue. Edith eventually aw Woodrow on the floor and picked him up with assistance and put his back in his wheelchair. The film played on to the man in the darkness who watched with his head leaning left while the rest of the world galloped away.

Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson

Books by William Hazelgrove