The Real Reason Herbert Hoover's Staff Would Hide From Him

Herbert Hoover is one of the most often-overlooked U.S. presidents. He was America's 31st president and his term began in 1929. If you have ever seen a picture of the White House, you know the place is huge. As such, it obviously requires more upkeep than your average house. In order to maintain such a large place, a significant amount of staff is needed. Hoover's relationship with his staff was apparently an odd one, however, as they did something no other White House staff has ever done before.

Remember what year Hoover was elected? Even though 1929 was decades after the Civil War and slavery was technically outlawed, there still were not very many job opportunities for recently freed African Americans. This was also true for immigrants who entered the country around this time period. African Americans and immigrants did, however, have a good chance of finding work as servants, laundresses, cooks, and butlers. This was also true for places like the White House, and as such, there was a predominantly African American staff working there at the beginning of Hoover's term.

Hide and seek with POTUS

The fact that the staff was mostly people of color was not in itself unusual. What was strange was a particular request that President Hoover and his wife made. For whatever reason, the Hoovers decided that they did not want to see the White House staff as they were completing their duties in the residence. They also didn't want the staff seeing them either. How do you fix this problem? Well, you ask them to hide when they hear you coming. Obviously.

Herbert Hoover, president of the United States of America, was playing hide and seek with the White House servants. In order to accommodate this peculiar request, the staff came up with a notification system to alert them when Hoover or his wife was coming. When they were made aware that one of the two was coming, the staff would hide in the closest closet or behind the nearest bush. Hoover did state that he wanted this done in order to create a sense of privacy, but that was a rather strange way to go about it. The "tradition" of the White House staff playing peek-a-boo with the president continued beyond Hoover's administration, until President Dwight Eisenhower finally put a stop to these shenanigans.