There’s no sign of a welcome wagon at the Trump White House
Too busy ripping up the rose garden and bemoaning the taxing demands of Christmas decorating have apparently left Melania Trump with woefully little time to have a welcoming cup of tea and tour of the White House with Dr. Jill Biden
Nothing says “Be Best” like snubbing the incoming First Lady in a time-honored tradition of helping your successor transition into her new home. Exhibiting not a whiff of friendly hospitality, Melania has yet to be in contact with D.r Biden refusing to welcome her to the White House.
It is the first break in the 100-year-old first ladies transfer of power tradition.
Of course, breaking with tradition and being rude is exactly the Trump tradition. It was unprecedented for Trump to refuse to welcome President-Elect Joe Biden into the White House and our failed FLOTUS is following suit
Melania has apparently not revealed any plans for her life after the White House, but whatever she chooses to do in her post First Lady time, she should not consider working as a Welcome Wagon hostess any time soon. Friendliness and a desire to be helpful are not in her skill set.
But they were for my mother.
A Hostess With The Mostess
Beginning in the late 1960s my mother became a Welcome Lady Hostess, that venerable army of women who once went home to home “sowing the seeds of friendship.” The Welcome Wagon women were once an important fixture of the suburban landscape.
Greeting and welcoming new neighbors to their new homes, these lovely ladies came bearing gift baskets and providing them with the information of the many local businesses and services that would benefit them as they settle into their new houses and communities.
With her warm smile, empathic nature, and knowledge of the local community, Mom was a natural.
A News Item
My home is still littered with old Welcome Wagon ephemera and buttons, but the yellowing, crumbling newspaper clip featuring my mother as a Welcome Wagon Hostess saved for over 50 years has somehow disappeared. In the recent packing up of my parent’s house, this faded article from the Long Island Press inadvertently got lost but the memory of it remains.
In 1967 my mother Betty was the latest addition to join the regional Welcome Wagon and it was deemed newsworthy.
Or newsworthy enough to appear in the “Womens Section” of the newspaper that archaic section of the newspaper devoted to covering news assumed to be of interest to “the gals. Sections focused on family, food, furnishings, and fashion the 4 “F’s” and on society news and advice. Beneath a black and white picture of my mother dressed in a smart, tailored suit and hat, ran this cheery caption.
“Hello There” will probably be the greeting Mrs. Marvin Edelstein will give many newcomers in the next few months. Mrs. Edelstein is leaving to attend the Welcome Wagon Hostess school in NYC for 5 days and will return to take over duties as Western Nassau County’s Welcome Wagon hostess.
To get on board the Welcome Wagon, Mom and other aspiring hostess were required to graduate from the business’s three-day school in New York City. A decade earlier, hostesses had to travel to Memphis the home office for a 2-week training session. What was required for the hostesses training to devote 5 days let alone 2 weeks away from family, I haven’t a clue.
When Mom signed on with Welcome Wagon, she joined a network of some 6,000 hostesses making more than a million calls a year. While Welcome Wagon advertised for civic-minded recruits there was also a monetary inducement, with the company being paid $1.30 for each visit by each business participating and hostesses getting a cut.
Like so many great American businesses Welcome Wagon was founded by an ad man.
The company formed in 1928 by advertising executive Thomas Briggs was inspired by the Conestoga wagons that provided fresh food and water to travelers making their way to the American West. Pioneers moving westward were welcomed into new towns with goods that came from a covered wagon. Later women toting baskets of information tried to persuade people to settle in their town. This was the first form of a welcoming organization.
A marketing whiz, Briggs, recognized that local merchants wanted to reach newcomers to his town of Memphis. So he put together a team of long-time residents who knew the area well, hiring “hostesses,” who were friendly and knowledgeable about their neighborhood, to personally deliver baskets of gifts supplied by local businesses to new homeowners. This hostess network expanded across the country until, aside from Briggs and just a handful of males, Welcome Wagon became one of the first all-female companies in the United States.
Over a cup of coffee and the course of an hour, hostesses would tell the new often nervous mover all about their community while handing out gifts and coupons from local businesses. Often requiring the hostess to be part psychotherapist, and part chamber of commerce, Mom would soothe more than one frazzled newcomer’s nerves.
For decades Welcome Wagon was a ubiquitous part of the community. Hostesses connected with 85 million households and hung on until 1998 when like the fuller brush man and the Avon lady these door-to-door home services transitioned first to mail and then the web.
Welcome Wagon’s personalized greetings and community information have touched the lives not just ordinary citizens but American Presidents as they moved into the White House.
Welcome Wagon greeted President John F. Kennedy’s family at the White House, as well as President Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat. George W. Bush and Laura were paid a visit too.
Oh, if only my mother were here today what a warm welcome she would give our amazing new First Lady Jill Biden!