Meeting Rosalyn Carter

As some of you may know, I played music twice in the White House during the Carter administration. At the second one of these, a staff Christmas party, President Carter was extremely busy as this was during the Iran hostage crisis and so he came downstairs to address the crowd for a moment, then went back to work. And so the photo pops were handled by Mrs. Carter. We only spoke to her for a moment but the difference in dealing with her and the social secretary was obvious. The social secretary was professionally polite and sort of phony warm while the First Lady came across as really genuine.

We were playing Renaissance music. That’s why we’re in costume. I still own the costume I”m in somewhere, though I don’t fit in it any more. It was custom made for me by a woman who was with the dance troupe that we sometimes performed with. She eventually got recruited by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC to make costumes for their theater company, which is the main organization performing Shakespeare in Washington. Most of the time we did not perform with dancers but for some occasions, like the local Renaissance Festival, at that time taking place in Columbia, MD, we went with everyone because the festival wanted us wandering around in those costumes. We played a bunch of odd places, including the opening of what was at the time a major local shopping mall, the British embassy, the Japanese embassy, and on a barge being pulled by a mule on the C&O Canal.  The British embassy gig led to the White House, but that’s another story.

A photo was taken. I am lucky enough to be beside her. We also got individual letters from the White House Social Secretary. If nothing else, they help remind us when we played.