Listen to Learn:
For my second show on 101.1 The Answer, I'm bringing back a very special guest of mine, Ann McCoy. She really needs no introduction because everyone knows her as either the successful million dollar club real estate agent, or as the Governor’s Mansion Administrator for Governor Clinton, or as the Special Assistant to the President, Deputy Social Secretary and Director of Personal Correspondence for President Clinton’s administration. What you might not know is... she's my mother-in-law.
There was a time when she could have boasted that she had met all the leaders of the Free World and had her picture taken with every living US President, but she doesn’t. She is the most gracious and lovely person I have ever had the privilege to meet.
Tune in to hear this super interesting woman tell her story of how she went from a wife and mother to the personal assistant of Arkansas' only President.
To learn more about Ann McCoy you can also read the article Brave Move: An Insider's Story from Brave Magazine.
Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
[0:00:07.9] SR: Welcome to Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy. A production of FlagandBanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show offers listeners firsthand insight into starting and running a business. The ups and downs of risk taking and the commonalities of successful people.
Connect with Kerry through her candid, often funny and informative weekly blog where you’ll learn, read and can comment on life as 21st century wife, mother, daughter and entrepreneur. Now, it’s time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:41.7] KM: Thank you Grey, before we start, I want to recognize all the people that help make this show happen. Megan Pitman, program director, Matt McCoy, production manager, Tom Woods, editor. Tammy McClure, researcher, Arwen Dover, digital manager, Madison Monroe, writer, Grey McCoy, my cohost and Zack our technician who will be running the board today.
If for some reason you miss any part of today’s show or want to hear it again or share it, there’s a way and Grey will tell you how.
[0:00:41.7] G: Listen to all UIYB past and present interviews by going to FlagandBanner.com and clicking on radio show. Podcasts are always available in all listening platforms by searching up in your business with Kerry McCoy.
Did you know you can also sign up for our water cooler weekly, a once a week email that notifies you of our upcoming guest as well as all the happenings at Dreamland Ballroom, the upcoming sales at FlagandBanner.com, relevant links to brave magazine articles and Kerry’s current blog post. All that in one weekly email. Or you may simply like FlagandBanner.com’s Facebook page for timely notifications.
Back to you Kerry.
[0:01:52.2] KM: Thank you, Grey. This show, up in your business with me Kerry McCoy began as a platform for me, a small business owner and a guest to pay forward our experiential knowledge and a conversational way. Originally, my team and I thought it would be this easy, informative, once a week interview with successful people. But boy oh boy, were we wrong.
We found that this show has had a wide audience appeal. That our listeners are inspired by our guests and their stories, that the content is informative to everyone, not just business owners. That the show’s webpage at Up In Your Business has become a resource for links to content that we discuss on this show. After interviewing over a hundred successful people, I’ve learned there’s a common thread among my guests.
They are all creative, most believe in a higher power, thus making risk taking easier and they are all good communicators with the heart of a teacher. My guest today, Ann McCoy, has created a life that most of us just dream about. Before retiring, Ann was the special assistant, deputy social secretary and director of personal correspondence to none other than president Bill Clinton.
Born in little rock Arkansas, student at both Little Rock Central High School and University of Arkansas and lived what would appear to be a typical life of wife and mother of three. How did this suburban mother come to live in Washington DC and be the special assistant and personal correspondent for the most powerful man in the world, well, we’re here to tell you today.
We’re going to follow her career path up and through the 21st century. Did I mention she’s my mother in law? Yes, Ann McCoy is my mother in law. It is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome to the table, a strong gentile southern woman, the world and always gracious, my mother in law, Ann McCoy.
She’s pointing at me, hey Ann. Hello Mother.
[0:03:51.5] AM: Hello, mother.
[0:03:53.5] KM: You went to Central High School around the time of Central High crisis, you went to college at the university of Arkansas and pledged by fire. You married and had three children, one of whom passed away from cancer at the age of 15 and you’re now an active
[inaudible] supporter. As your children grew, you became a successful realtor for
[inaudible} Gibson Agency and part of the million-dollar club. There’s more, let me change pages.
When your daughter, right out of college, took a job as Chelsea Clinton’s nanny, you volunteered at the governor’s mansion and eventually was offered the job as mansion administrator. In 1992, you followed president Bill Clinton to the White House and before retiring, you did a short stint at Heifer International headquarters in Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.
What a life? Are you proud of yourself?
[0:04:43.0] AM: I just have to say I’m very fortunate, I loved every minute of it.
[0:04:47.1] KM: Last time you were on the show, this is the second time I’ve interviewed you. The last time you were on the show, we talked about you meeting and marrying your husband of 60 years and about the life as an air force wife. But we did not talk about you living in California. Did you grow up in California? Were you born in Arkansas?
[0:05:03.2] AM: I was born in Arkansas and at age five, my family moved to Long Beach, California. We lived on Ocean Boulevard, just walked down the steps to the beach, we were there for six years and absolutely loved living in California.
We did move and we were there at Belmont Shores for four more years, it was a wonderful place to grow up. We could swim on Christmas Day if we wanted to. There were flowers all the time, people were so friendly and so helpful, it was a wonderful place to grow up. I was 15 and my brother was 17, a senior in high school, when my father came home one day and said, "You know, California is just moving along too fast. We’ve got to take these children back to Arkansas."
Well, of course, my brother nearly fainted. It was very hard on him. We did come back to Arkansas, Jess and I were both at Little Rock Central High School and we both adjusted beautifully and we’re so thankful that we did come back to Arkansas.
[0:06:25.9] KM: Your mother was from Arkansas, your father was from Arkansas. Why did they move to California?
[0:06:32.1] AM: Well, it was during the war, we went out in '41 and my father was working with the defense department and it was just an opportunity.
[0:06:46.0] KM: He followed a job.
[0:06:47.7] AM: Yes.
[0:06:49.1] KM: You moved back, go to Central High School, had the Central High Crisis happened yet?
[0:06:55.5] AM: No, it happened right after we left. My brother and I both. I graduated in '54 and it was '57. We didn’t experience that. Now, I have to admit, coming back to Arkansas from Long Beach and at that time, Long Beach, California was very – it was not very highly populated and it was a change for me to come back to a segregated state.
I don’t have any objection about it but it was just a change.
[0:07:31.2] KM: Because California was not.
[0:07:33.2] AM: Long beach was not, Los Angeles certainly was but long beach was a smaller community.
[0:07:39.7] KM: You went off to college at the University of Arkansas and pledged by fire.
[0:07:43.0] AM: Yes.
[0:07:43.8] KM: How did you meet your husband?
[0:07:46.9] AM: Grady was stationed at the Little Rock Air Force Base. I was working at the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission. One of the –
[0:07:55.2] KM: You had already graduated from college?
[0:07:58.2] AM: Well, I didn’t graduate.
[0:07:59.3] KM: Okay.
[0:08:00.3] AM: I decided – I went for two years and I was in business school, one of eight girls in business, which was a lot of fun but I didn’t want to be –
[0:08:17.0] KM: Accountant.
[0:08:19.5] AM: Economist or something along that line. I thought, well, I’m going to drop out for one year and think about what I want to do. I worked at the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission, a very interesting opportunity. One of my friends at work was dating Grady McCoy and she asked me if I would go out with his friend. Of course, I didn’t know Grady at the time at all.
I said, "Well, I’ll go." We went out and Grady and I kind of liked each other right the first evening we saw each other and it was a little while later that we ended up getting together and then I went to California for the summer and when I came home, he went to Sacramento. Then he came home months later and asked me to marry him and we got married.
Now, we corresponded a lot but you don’t talk on the phone back in that time like we do now.
[0:09:20.8] KM: Because you had to pay by the minute and there was no Skype, no Facebook time, you really – I think that’s interesting about your generation and my mother’s generation. You didn’t really know people when you married them.
[0:09:35.0] AM: That’s true.
[0:09:36.2] KM: I remember my mother saying, "Well, I didn’t have sex before I got married." I said, "Mother, you dated him three months. I didn’t have sex with the guy I was dating for the first three months either."
[0:09:49.1] AM: That’s very true. But I think, in a way, I’ve thought a lot about it and I really think it was good because we were really getting to know each other. We were kind of on our best behavior, I guess.
[0:10:02.4] KM: You moved back here, you traveled with your husband I think. He was in the air force, you traveled everywhere.
[0:10:08.7] AM: Not everywhere, we were – we went to Oklahoma, small air base that they were so wonderful and friendly to me, I felt like I had joined a family. Then we went to the largest air force base right Patterson in Ohio. That was quite an experience, we enjoyed that.
Grady was right navigator on B52 bombers and that is a situation where they would live at the base every other month for a week because they were on alert and then of course, during the week, they had all of these missions they would find, learn more about what they were doing.
It was a situation where Grady never intended to stay in the air force. He was ROTC and joined the air force but he was ready to go on and do something else which we did and it worked out very well.
[0:11:13.2] KM: You came back to Little Rock and I’ll tell my listeners again, I’ve interviewed Ann already so I kind of got the lay of the land on this. You came back to Little Rock and you and Grady began to sell real estate for Bitter Gibson Realty and you were in the Million Dollar Club.
[0:11:29.1] AM: Yes.
[0:11:29.6] KM: Back when the Million Dollar Club really meant something. That’s when you met president or at the time, Governor Clinton.
[0:11:40.1] AM: Actually, we had always supported and voted for them but I didn’t know him, it was kind of neat when the first introduction was an honor for me and then later on, of course, our daughter worked for them and then they asked me to be the administrator.
It was absolutely the most delightful situation, nothing to compare with the White House exactly but I got to know all the people in Arkansas, Hilary worked at the Rose Law Firm. The governor was at the capital. I handled most of the events that we had which were fund raisers, organizations would meet there.
[0:12:33.0] KM: All the various things.
[0:12:35.0] AM: I handled it all at the governor’s mansion and then Hillary would always come in a little later on and visit around with whoever was there. I managed the staff, very smalls staff and we had – I remember we had five class A, inmates from the Coming and actually, they lived on Roosevelt, they worked inside and outside.
That was an interesting, a new experience for me but they were excellent workers and they all got out eventually.
[0:13:17.2] KM: The security guards were state troopers, they were there on site at the governor’s mansion. You never felt threatened.
[0:13:24.7] AM: No.
[0:13:25.4] KM: Because there was a wing to the governor’s mansion that was full of state troopers? Well not full but there was always a state trooper.
[0:13:32.3] AM: Always a state trooper.
[0:13:35.2] KM: All right, I think this is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation with Ann McCoy. We’ll hear about life at the Arkansas governor’s mansion, the behind the scene story and preparations for moving into the white house. You’re not going to want to miss this. And, if we have time, she’ll talk to us about all the movie stars and world leaders she accommodated while working for the Clinton Administration.
We’ll be back after the break.
You’re listening to up in your business with Kerry McCoy a production of FlagandBanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400. Kerry founded Arkansas flag and banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed. Starting with door to door sales then telemarketing, to mail order and catalog sales. Now, a third of their sales come through the internet and this past year, flag and banner added another internet feature. Live chatting.
Over time, Kerry’s business and leadership knowledge grew, as early as 2004, she began sharing her knowledge in her week weekly blog and then in 2009, she founded a nonprofit, Friends of Dreamland Ballroom. In 2014, Brave Magazine was launched.
Today, she has branched out into podcasts, Facebook live stream and YouTube videos of this radio show. Each week, you’ll hear candid conversations between her and her guest about real world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics that we hope you’ll find interesting and inspiring.
If you would like to ask Kerry a question or share your story, send an email to kerry@FlagandBanner.com or send her on FlagandBanner.com’s Facebook page. Telling American stories, selling American made flags. The FlagandBanner.com. Back to you Kerry.
[0:15:17.6] KM: Thank you Grey. You’re listening to up in your business with me, Kerry McCoy and I’m speaking today with Ann McCoy whose career includes mansion administrator for the Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton and personal assistant and correspondent to president Bill Clinton.
Before the break, we talked about her living in California and she says it was snot crowded and it was lovely and friendly, hard to believe. Then, it’s as high school students, her dad picked him up, moved them back to little rock, lucky for us and she then traveled around as an air force wife to her new husband and they moved back to Little Rock and became a realtor.
[0:15:56.2] AM: 69.
[0:15:57.5] KM: 69. Became a realtor, very successful and met Bill Clinton shortly thereafter. You met Bill when you were a realtor because you were in the Million Dollar Club?
[0:16:09.8] AM: yes.
[0:16:09.9] KM: What was he doing? How’d you meet him?
[0:16:11.9] AM: It was a large event downtown and he was giving out the awards to all of those who had made the Million Dollar Club. He was up on stage and call out your name and go out there and shake his hand. It was well done. He was of course delightful. First time I’ve – I don’t know that a governor has handed out the awards.
I honestly don’t know what they’ve done the last number of years but I think it was the first time a governor had handed out the awards. But then, Hillary called me later on and ask if I would be interested in talking to her about the position of the administrator. I went to her office and we had a good conversation, they ask me if I would start which I did almost immediately.
Had very little information about everything, kind of had to learn on the job. I just really threw myself into it and loved it, it was great.
[0:17:21.2] KM: You went from selling real estate and I knew you this time Ann but I can’t put the pieces together in my mind, the timeline. Did Reed get sick and passed away while you were selling real estate or while you were the mansion administrator, your son?
[0:17:35.1] AM: While I was selling real estate.
[0:17:36.7] KM: You were selling real estate and Becky, your daughter was the nanny for Chelsea. I remember, you were volunteering to do tours of the governor’s mansion and got to work alongside your daughter and everything real sweet. Reed became sick and I remember the Clintons coming to the hospital room.
[0:18:01.8] AM: My lands. They came often and they sent flowers and now, we were not, we were in and out of the hospital. Reed and I. But they were so involved and caring, it was just grand. Now, I had no idea that time of any possibility of working for them, I certainly wasn’t thinking about that at the time but I think that it was a good way to get to know them and to see perhaps someone under stress handling a situation.
[0:18:41.5] KM: In some ways, I remember thinking, when they offered you that job that this was like another door opening. One door closes and another door opens.
[0:18:52.0] AM: Absolutely.
[0:18:54.0] KM: Hillary calls you up because the mansion administrator has decided to retire or to quit or to move on or something and they’re looking for someone and you just popped into their mind and you took the job.
[0:19:05.5] AM: I took the job, I did.
[0:19:07.2] KM: What was the very first thing you did when you got there and what did you think it was going to be like?
[0:19:11.2] AM: Well, I really didn’t know, even though I had been around, I had not managed a staff, that was a small staff. I had to plan of course all of the meals, any functions that we did have, I did all of the planning and arranging and checked out everything with Hillary, everything was checked.
Also, we had people who would ask to have events there and for about the first year, I would get all the information, present it to Hillary and she would decide if they were coming on. Then she came down one day and she said, Ann, we’ve been at this long enough and she said, I just want you to make the decisions, you know who can come here and who can’t.
From then on, for the next seven years, I would make the decision. We had situations where people wanted to have their wedding picture made on the steps at the governor’s mansion. Well, we couldn’t do that. I mean, we would have been overwhelmed. Thankfully, she and I talked about it and I said, I just think if we start it, it would be very difficult to stop which we never started. She and I had a good rapport but it was business like. I think that was another good thing.
[0:20:40.8] KM: Why? Why was that good?
[0:20:45.2] AM: Well –
[0:20:47.4] KM: Why is it good to keep things on a business level?
[0:20:50.1] AM: Because it just keeps them clean. You’re not telling all your problems to someone or something.
[0:20:59.4] KM: That’s sometimes hard to do when you see people day to day basis to not get too personal about everything.
[0:21:05.4] AM: Well, of course, I realized that she had very responsible job, certainly, the governor did and they both traveled a bit around the state but it really worked out really well. I mean, -
[0:21:21.8] KM: What was your favorite part about working for the governor’s mansion? Meeting people or planning the parties or working closely with those powerful people and seeing how business work and how things went. What do you think about it? What do you think about is being your favorite memories?
[0:21:41.9] AM: My favorite memories were the privilege of meetings o many people throughout Arkansas. They were generally people who were involved in something good. Some fundraiser function or award ceremony. We had a time where all of the high level students from schools all over the state and their families would come to the governor’s mansion for a day and of course, it ran the entire day because we had so many people.
They would come through and have their picture made with the president, we had refreshments on the lawn.
[0:22:28.3] KM: Who was the governor then?
[0:22:29.1] AM: Pardon me, the governor. It was interesting because Bill Clinton never forgets anything.
[0:22:37.3] KM: I know, that’s really weird and he would, they would introduce themselves and he said, yes, I know so and so. Now, is he your uncle or is he your father’s brother or what have you? He knew the majority of the student’s family members. It made them feel so good,
[0:23:00.6] AM: Yeah, that’s my bet, he did. You were with the –
[0:23:05.6] KM: It’s time that he’s decided he’s going to run for president. What was it like during that time when he was thinking, I’m going to run for the presidency.
[0:23:15.4] AM: Well, I have to say, when we first heard it and we were in the kitchen talking and a couple of other people in there. I said, governor Clinton, if you can just look enough people in the eye and shake their hand, you’ll be president of the United States.
He has a gift of remembering people, making them feel like that 30 seconds is the best thing that ever happened to them. It was the most exciting time running, there was a lot of going on at the governor’s mansion. He ran the campaign across from Arkansas which most people do not do from their home state. I’ll fast forward to the election.
Of course, I have to admit, they were in and out of town traveling all over the United States. Part of my job was helping Hillary get her clothes together, what she was going to wear and take. Then of course, Chelsea, we haven’t missed Chelsea, she’s the best thing ever that happened to them. I was having a lot of – today with Chelsea and there were others that we’re helping also.
When the election night came, there were very few of us in the house at the governor’s mansion. Governor Clinton as you recall, about ruined his voice talking too much. James’ son. Dr. James Son told him, if he didn’t go to the room and not talk for the entire evening, he wouldn’t be able to accept the – if he won’t or decline.
I was running back and forth upstairs, we sequestered him in the living room upstairs. I was taking him hot tea with honey and he called in at one point and he said, Ann, I think I need some more tea. I went up, this was later in the evening and I saw him on the phone. I thought. He’s not supposed to be talking. He finished his conversation.
At that point, I realized what was going on and it was President Bush conceding the election to him. He said, I just said – I ran and get Hillary and I did, I ran downstairs.
[0:25:51.9] KM: You were with Clinton when he found out?
[0:25:53.2] AM: Yeah.
[0:25:54.8] KM: Wow. When are you going to write a book?
[0:25:57.4] AM: Well, it’s under construction.
[0:26:03.3] KM: You’ve been saying that, how long has it been? He was out of office during what year? 2001? He was out of office. 2000 was his last, that’s 18 years you’ve been saying you were going to write a book.
[0:26:18.5] AM: Yes.
[0:26:21.2] KM: Never going to happen.
[0:26:23.2] AM: Well, I’ll tell you, I’ve given a lot of talks in little rock and I am going to take all that information and try to put it together for my grandchildren.
[0:26:32.7] KM: That’s good. Doesn’t the university of Arkansas at Little Rock have a lot of – or not at Little Rock University of Arkansas Fayetteville have a lot of your memorabilia?
[0:26:41.0] AM: Yes, and I am preparing more to go and it is hard to let go of some of it.
[0:26:44.7] KM: I bet but yeah, you started working at the governor’s mansion maybe when Chelsea was three and you worked with her for 16 years. So, she was 18, you grew up with Chelsea or Chelsea grew up with you I should say.
[0:27:00.6] AM: Yeah.
[0:27:01.6] KM: And tell us about her, she’s precautious as she seems just smart as whip.
[0:27:06.3] AM: Absolutely, all of that. Now she was a very loving child and the Clinton’s didn’t have a lot of outside partying going on.
[0:27:20.9] KM: Well they didn’t have any time.
[0:27:22.3] AM: They didn’t have time, you’re right but on the weekends for instance or in the evenings they would all just gather together and have dinner and they played cards or games and they played to win. I don’t care whether you are right playing with a three-year-old or a 10 year old. So, Chelsea of coursed learned from them. She also was around adults a lot and she knew how to behave. Now I have to admit one time, she was in school and then called in the governor’s mansion from school.
And said, “Chelsea just got into a fight with an older boy,” and I said, oh so I called Hilary and probably couldn’t even reach her but so I said, “Well I will be right over to pick her up.” And some little boy had made a comment about her father as governor that she didn’t like. She always defended him but then on the flip side, one afternoon Chelsea came home, and she was probably about nine and she often would bring a little girl friend with her after school and they play.
She jumped out of the car, ran over to the flagpole in the front yard, knelt down and then she got up and then she ran back to the car and the friend said, “What are you doing?” And she said, “I am saying a prayer for those who were killed in the space craft.” But that was Chelsea and then she went on to play but I want to tale tell a story that Chelsea at the White House. Is there time?
[0:29:15.7] KM: Okay, yes absolutely.
[0:29:17.5] AM: We had so many social events at the White House. Hilary and the president felt it was very important to get people together, diverse groups of people, education, health care, all kind of politicians and mix them up events. We did a lot of that and we also had the military. One evening we had the military in the dining room, the red room, the blue room and the green room. They were all in their formal uniforms, it was a beautiful evening.
The Marine band was playing music in the grand foyer and Chelsea was taking – she was just 13. She was taking ballet at the Washington Ballet and she came downstairs barefoot in her shorts and t-shirt and she said, “Ann what is going on?” and I said, “Well…” I explained to her who the people were visiting for dinner and she walked over to the band and wave to them. They were just crazy about her and then she proceeded to pirouette the full length of the cross hall and back complete with a summersault.
And then went upstairs, “Good night, Ann.” Now at 16 she stood poised by herself at the entrance to the dining room at the White House receiving a 120 of her ballet friends and students and their mothers for tea. Now I also think that she was more poised than her father when they walked down the aisle to marry Mark.
[0:31:12.5] KM: So it was a small wedding and I think Chelsea said, “Mom you are not making the guest list. I am making the guest list,” is that right? And Chelsea put you on the guest list and you got to go.
[0:31:23.2] AM: Oh absolutely, yes. It was fabulous.
[0:31:25.6] KM: Small, what state was it in.
[0:31:27.6] AM: It was pleasant but not small. No, about 400.
[0:31:30.9] KM: Oh well that is not particularly big for –
[0:31:34.4] AM: You’re right, it wasn’t.
[0:31:37.6] KM: That is probably how many my daughter had. Not really but she did it but –
[0:31:41.4] AM: She could have.
[0:31:43.0] KM: She could have, yeah. That is a great story. This is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we continue our conversation with Ann McCoy and making the move to the Whitehouse. We are going to get to it. We’ll learn some interesting trivia about the Whitehouse, the movie stars that visited and the day that Arafat and Ruben signed the Oslo peace accord on the Whitehouse lawn.
I want to remind everyone after each show’s airing a podcast is made available on all popular listening sites and YouTube.
[0:32:08.6] ANNOUNCER: FlagandBanner.com is proud to sponsor Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy. The FlagandBanner.com is so much more than a flag store housed in a 100-year-old building in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. We offer an old school shopping experience with free front door parking, friendly clerks and department store variety. Memorial Day is Monday, May 27th. Hurry in to get your grave markers and miniature flags to honor and remember those who sacrificed their lives for their freedom.
And right around the corner is the 4th of July. Now is the time to decorate your home for the patriotic season. Freshen up your front porch with bunting, full fans and flags. Bring your old flag in and receive $5 off a new one. We also have clothing, jewelry, gifts, party supplies, dish ware and more. Add a pop of color to your walkway with our seasonal garden banners and door hangers. Can’t make it downtown? Don’t worry, the internet never closes. You can always browse our website 24/7 and live chat during office hours with customer service representatives that are eager to help you.
And if online shopping isn’t your thing, call our customer service experts available by phone six days a week. Quality products, expert service, outrageous support, the FlagandBanner.com, so much more than a flag store.
[0:33:23.8] KM: You are listening to Up In Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy and I am speaking today with Ann McCoy, who’s career includes mansion administrator for Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and personal assistant and corresponded to President Bill Clinton. Before the break, we talked about Ann’s life in California. We talked about her life in the Air Force as an Air Force life. We talked about selling realty, we talked about the governor’s mansion.
And now, we are going to talk about the White House. So, Bill has accepted the presidency, what happens next? I bet it is a flurry at the governor’s mansion. What do you have to do to get ready to go?
[0:34:03.3] AM: Make up.
[0:34:04.4] KM: Make up?
[0:34:06.0] AM: Well we got everybody all dressed, ready to go. There are very few people at the governor’s mansion. We all rushed out to the motorcade. We had of course the full tilt motorcade. We were escorting the President of the United States almost.
[0:34:28.5] KM: To the old statehouse to make his acceptance speech.
[0:34:31.1] AM: Absolutely yes, we got into the motorcade. We were heading down Broadway and just as we got to the Broadway Bridge, up on the bridge, we could see the Worthen Bank building lit up with Bill on the whole side as big as you can get and of course it was huge downtown at the old statehouse convention center. They said they were about 50,000 people.
[0:34:59.0] KM: Crammed into that little area.
[0:35:00.8] AM: Yeah.
[0:35:01.5] KM: Were you back stage when he walked out? Where you back behind?
[0:35:05.2] AM: No, I was up front.
[0:35:07.0] KM: You were?
[0:35:07.4] AM: When he walked out of the –
[0:35:09.5] KM: Old statehouse.
[0:35:09.9] AM: Old statehouse, no I was upfront seated and –
[0:35:13.4] KM: But you were in the motorcade with him going down. I bet you were so excited.
[0:35:16.7] AM: Yes that was very exciting, the first time, my first motorcade too.
[0:35:20.8] KM: I bet. I bet you had a lot sense then though. So, he’s accepted the speech, anything extraordinary we need to talk about that? Did he ever go to sleep that night, or could you ever sleep after an event like that?
[0:35:33.7] AM: Well I didn’t stay. I doubt it. I would not doubt that he stayed up pretty much all night thinking about it and making plans and I mean he was already – it is interesting because even when you know the election is going to be November and you know there’s a possibility that you might be putting people in office in January there is a huge amount of work that goes on before November because you got to get lined up whether you win or lose.
They line up all the people they like to ask and that was another interesting thing. He interviewed his cabinet secretaries, heads of departments and so forth at the governor’s mansion and I was asked to greet them and visit with them until they are interviewed, which was delightful. I met so many of the members and then when we get to the White House, I would welcome them in, and we felt like old friends. It really made a difference it was really special.
[0:36:50.7] KM: So I have been teasing everybody about what happens about moving into the Whitehouse after the inauguration so we are going to run out of time I am afraid. So, we are going to have to talk about at the inauguration. I was sitting next to you. We were watching his acceptance speech, or I don’t know, inaugural speech I mean and you jump up and you go, “I’ve got to go get the White House ready.”
[0:37:17.9] AM: Well we took a small bus, 15 people and I had prepared in Little Rock boxes with instructions of what room they would be, they would go in and what drawers they’d be placed in. So, we rushed over to the White House. Two huge vans were parked on the south lawn. Secret service would not let us get into them or bring them in until they totally secured it. So, the White House all 15 people a complete tour of the White House, which was wonderful.
We managed everything in place for them to dress by 5:00 because they were walking in the parade after the inauguration. So 5:00 they entered the house and we had everything in place and then we all rushed to dress for the ball, but it was nice that night. Chelsea had five girlfriends from Little Rock spend the night and the White House prepared a White House scavenger hunt. So, they had a wonderful time.
[0:38:34.8] KM: And the staff at the White House stays from president to president to president, right?
[0:38:39.1] AM: Yes, there are 98 permanent staff at the White House and they are experts in transition. They literary seem to drop all they’ve known before and say, “This is the family, what is it that you would like to have us do?” And it is done.
[0:38:57.2] KM: Talk about gracious.
[0:38:58.3] AM: Oh yeah, they are terrific. Now it is interesting because Hilary had visited the Whitehouse and I have visited three times before we went up. President Clinton had never been in the private quarters upstairs. So, he was like a kid, he was so excited to see it and it took him a while to get around everything you know? But it really was a fabulous experience.
[0:39:31.4] KM: So if the Whitehouse staff is permanent, when it came time to have a state diners, did they tell you how to do it?
[0:39:39.9] AM: No, they said, “How would you like to have it done?”
[0:39:42.9] KM: You said, “I don’t know, tell me.”
[0:39:44.1] AM: No, no, we said we had enough knowledge. We had a little bit of knowledge about, we’ve read a few things about state diners and that type of thing. So, we knew what to do but the first lady chooses the crystal, the China, the silver, the flowers, table clothes and what they do, the florist would dress the tables so to speak. She dressed three tables actually and then Hilary would come down and look at it and chose what she wanted or rearrange it or do things like that.
The Clinton’s were also very conscious as I mentioned before about seating guests. Husbands and wife did not seat together. Each table had a diverse group of people because they wanted people to exchange ideas, which they did, and people are allowed to talk about what they know and they make friendships. We always had of course congress. Congress was always well represented. So, we hoped that they would pick up ideas that they would hear from people.
[0:40:53.6] KM: How many state dinners did you have you think?
[0:40:55.5] AM: We had 30 over the eight years and just as a comparison, Ronald Reagan had 54. It just varies. It varies.
[0:41:06.6] KM: But you had more visitors who visit the White House?
[0:41:09.2] AM: Oh lunch, yes. There again, the Clinton’s wanted – there were so many opportunities to bring people together. At WETA, Washington Education of Television has their show filmed at the Whitehouse I think they still do. We had wonderful performances, but it was a grand opportunity to bring people together for reception and to go in and watch the show. We had a wonderful event for the 200th anniversary at the Lewis and Clark exhibition.
[0:41:53.0] KM: Exhibition, yeah what about –
[0:41:56.0] GREY: Expedition.
[0:41:56.8] KM: Thank you, I need a linguist over here to get most of the rallies.
[0:42:01.7] AM: It was really exciting because we had it in the very room where it was planned and agreed upon in the east room of the White House 200 years before.
[0:42:13.8] KM: Oh that is just wonderful.
[0:42:15.8] AM: And Kim Burns of course made a documentary on it but we did a lot of things like that.
[0:42:22.7] KM: So you had Arafat and Reuben sign the peace accord.
[0:42:28.9] AM: Yes.
[0:42:29.4] KM: How exciting is that?
[0:42:30.8] AM: Well it was terribly exciting and it is something that every president of late has worked on diligently. That day was exciting for me because at first, I greeted President Bush at the North of Portico and he came in. He had not been back to the White House and see a lot and he was greeting the staff and greeting the secret service as we walked across the Rose Garden to the cabinet room. I said, “President Bush you look wonderful,” and he said, “I feel wonderful. I don’t do anything I don’t want to do.” Then I rushed out to greet President Carter and Roseman and I took down to the press stations.
That were out on the lawn and then I went up to the blue room where President Clinton had Arafat and Reuben make their first and only handshake. They had never shaken hands with each other, and Reuben said, “Okay but no kissing” they managed to do that and of course they had the peace signing on the lawn and they signed the papers but they are still warring terribly over there.
[0:43:59.5] KM: Was Reagan there?
[0:44:01.2] AM: No, Reagan was not. When we got to the White House, he was not going anywhere he was not doing well.
[0:44:09.1] KM: How many times did President Clinton have, the other presidents to the White House?
[0:44:13.9] AM: Not that often really.
[0:44:16.1] KM: I didn’t think anybody did that.
[0:44:18.0] AM: Oh yeah, if it has something to do with foreign affairs that perhaps they were involved with because I remember having President Ford and Carter and I can’t remember what all the events were but we had them two or three times but that evening of this peace signing all four presidents, Ford, Carter, Clinton and Bush stayed overnight at the White House, which I think was the first back end party at the White House of presidents.
[0:44:59.6] KM: Who got to stay in the Queen’s room?
[0:45:02.1] AM: Well I don’t know. I was out there all evening with them.
[0:45:07.2] KM: This is so you, she won’t tell you anything. She is the most tight lip person. So, you had the president’s ear. Were people always trying to ask you do stuff?
[0:45:16.4] AM: Oh all the time.
[0:45:17.8] KM: And the first ladies. You had beepers on you all the time and phones and –
[0:45:24.1] AM: The beeper is all we have. So communication was much slower but people for instance wanted Hilary to speak all over the country at different things but I worked it very well because I would just say you must send in a request, which would go to her to her staff and then she and the staff would make the decision but I would make them think, “Oh that is wonderful. I know she would love to do that. It will depend upon her schedule.” And so, on and so forth.
[0:46:02.6] KM: Who was your favorite? They had lots of movie stars.
[0:46:04.7] AM: Oh we did.
[0:46:05.7] KM: I know, who is your favorite movie star or can you say because you probably wouldn’t say she is my favorite, but who is someone you really liked?
[0:46:13.1] AM: Well there were so many I would tell one particular event. The point has this 120-seat theater. The president is afforded any movie he would like to see. The first movie we had starred Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Cain, with Newman popcorn and popper and they had so much fun popping popcorn in the White House kitchen. Later we watched An American President where Michael Douglas played the French, played the president at a French state diner in the movie.
He could not attend the movie, but we had a French State dinner a little later on and he was invited as a guest. He came alone. I greeted him and took him to get his dinner card. He got it and he looked at me and he said, “I am so nervous, what do I do now?” And I said, “Well, why don’t you pretend like you are acting in a movie?” And he smiled and I handed him off to a beautiful little social aide who escorted him up to the east room. The Bugle sounded hail to chief, the presidents and first ladies descended the staircase.
Proceeded by a colored guard, they took pictures and greeted their guest. When Michael Douglas walked up, the president stepped up, he took his hand and swished him over next to the French President. I think state department and protocol were about to faint. Michael Douglas said, “Did you like the movie?” And of course, he said he loved it but in honor of the guests were seated in the dining room. The presidents and first ladies entered the dining room.
The press scurry in and take their pictures as they toast then they leave. A five-course dinner with wine is served complete with each table served a lofty marzipan Eifel Tower with ice cream cake and sugar frosted fruit. The Air Force sterling strings around the dining room playing beautiful music and they proceed at into a cross hall playing music. The butler is joined then with great big silver trays with dimities and liquors as the guest proceed for entertainment in the east room and it might be Yoyoma, it might be Rene Fleming, Aretha Franklin, tango dancers on and on and on.
[0:49:16.0] KM: That is just one night.
[0:49:17.6] AM: Not just all that. That is 30 times.
[0:49:21.5] KM: That is 30 state dinners. All right, we are out of time. Ann McCoy, I love you.
[0:49:27.4] AM: I love you too, Kerry.
[0:49:29.3] KM: Next week we are going to have the first lady, Susan Hutchinson and I think it is time for us to go. Thank you to our listeners out there. If you think you might have a great entrepreneurial story that you would like to share send a brief bio and your contact info to kerry@FlagandBanner.com and someone will be in touch and last, to our listeners, thank you for spending time with me.
If you think this program has been about you, you are right, but it’s also been for us. Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny. My hope today is that you’ve heard or learned something that’s been inspiring or enlightening and that it, whatever it is will help you up your business, your independence or your life. I’m Kerry McCoy and I’ll see you next time on Up In Your Business.
Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:50:19.1] ANNOUNCER: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of FlagandBanner.com. If you missed any part of this show or want to learn more about UIYB, go to FlagandBanner.com and click on radio show or subscribe to her weekly podcast wherever you like to listen.
All interviews are recorded and posted the following week with links to resources you heard discussed on today’s show. Subscribe to her weekly podcast to wherever you like to listen. Kerry’s goal: to help you live the American Dream.