So did you know that there is a one-lane bowling alley at the White House? According to the White House Museum website, bowling lanes were first built on the ground floor of the West Wing in 1947 as a birthday gift for President Harry Truman in "the location of what is the present-day Situation Room."
During the Eisenhower administration, the bowling lanes were moved to the Old Executive Office Building "to make way for a mimeograph room." Ten years later, friends of Richard Nixon , an avid bowler, paid for a new one-lane alley to be built in the White House in an underground area below the driveway leading to the North Portico.
Since then, many presidents and politicians have surely thrown a strike or two in the bowling alley, but perhaps no one has enjoyed this perk of living in the White House more than the presidents' children and grandchildren.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, President George Bush and his wife Barbara were enjoying a big family dinner shortly after moving into the White House when the First Lady realized that her twin granddaughters, Jenna and Barbara, were not at the table. Turning to the butler, Mrs. Bush asked if he happened to know where they were, to which he replied, "In the bowling alley, waiting to be served."
Not fully amused, the First Lady ordered the girls back to the family quarters by "sending word that Bush grandchildren do not eat in the bowling alley, they eat with the family in the dining room." She also light-heartedly warned the White House staff to "beware of young charm artists."
But much bigger and more sinister "scandals" involving the White House bowling alley arose late last year. According to new reports, things got a little tense during a White House Press Briefing in October of 2009 when CBS correspondent Chip Reid questioned White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about a Washington Times story "that accused the White House of selling access to the bowling alley," among other things.
Following up on a question posed by a CNN reporter, Reid asked Gibbs if the Obama administration would release the names of donors who were given special access to White House advisors and "perks like the bowling alley.” Gibbs caustically responded by noting that the administration would indeed be releasing "the names of everyone who visited the White House, with whom they met, and for what time period."
Still not satisfied, Reid pressed the bowling alley issue further, at which point Gibbs finally defused the spat with humor, and flatly shot back, "I can report to you that [my son] Ethan Gibbs, with the bumpers down, bowled a couple of games while eating some chicken fingers.”
Now, most of you probably haven't had the chance to bowl a couple of games at the White House while eating chicken fingers, but you can make this healthy recipe for Crispy Chicken Fingers before knocking down a few pins at your local bowling alley.
1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut across into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
4 cups whole-grain corn cereal
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the chicken and buttermilk in a shallow dish. Cover and chill for 15 minutes. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Put the cereal in a sealed plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Transfer the crumbs to a shallow dish.
Season the chicken with the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Dip each piece of chicken in the cereal to fully coat and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Leave the chicken on the baking sheet to cool slightly. Serve warm with ketchup or honey mustard sauce.
Credit: The White House Basement Bowling Alley in the 1980s, White House Museum .
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