Those of you who know me, know that I’m obsessed with animals, especially dogs. One of my favorite recent discoveries has been learning about First Lady Grace Coolidge. She absolutely loved animals of any kind, especially her dogs. Her official portrait, painted by Howard Chandler Christy in 1924, is my favorite of the first lady portraits. It featured her dog, Roy Rodgers, and is one of two first lady portraits with the White House in the background. Her other dog was named Prudence Prim (how delightful is that?).
She also broke social norms. She had a bachelor’s degree and was a teacher at a school for deaf children before marrying Calvin Coolidge.
But one of the most unusual things she did related to her soft spot for animals. In 1926, a supporter gave the Coolidges a raccoon for Thanksgiving dinner. Grace decided to keep the raccoon as a pet and named her Rebecca. Rebecca lived at the White House, in the Octagon House, for a short time in Rock Creek Zoo when she couldn’t mind her manners, and vacationed in the Black Hills of South Dakota with the first family. Rebecca also played a star roll in the Easter Egg Roll on April 18, 1927.