Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bowling at Camp David

President George W. Bush and family bowling at Camp David in 2001

David and Susan Eisenhower - 1960
President Eisenhower installed a two-lane bowling alley in the Hickory Lodge.  I found a number of references on the internet related to presidential bowling at Camp David:

When Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev met with President Eisenhower at Camp David in 1959, he wanted to see the bowling alley.  Khrushchev was more interested in the automatic pinsetter than in bowling a game.

President Johnson bowled his first game ever at the bowling alley at Camp David.

According to a newspaper account, President Nixon, who had a bowling average of 165, liked bowling at Camp David.  He believed that bowling helped relieve backaches and improved his vision and muscle coordination.

However this book reports that with the exception of the pool, Nixon did not really use the recreational facilities very much.  But, being "conscious of his stiff public image", Nixon wanted his  press secretary Ron Ziegler to "slip word to the press" that he had taken up bowling at Camp David.

Chelsea Clinton and a "busload of friends" celebrated her 16th birthday at Camp David.  After a birthday dinner in the Laurel Lodge, they went over to Hickory to watch movies and go bowling.

The book From Mount Vernon to Crawford states that the two-lane bowling alley was renovated while President George W. Bush was in office.

President Obama bowled at Camp David the weekend prior to his birthday in August, 2009.  Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reported that he bowled a 144 including three strikes and a nine in the last four frames.

Here is paragraph about the use of the bowling alley during the 1959 Khrushchev visit taken from the official Camp David Operation Plan that describes the weekend activities in detail:

Page 4 of the "Camp David Operation Plan 2-59" 

President Bush shows Mexico President Salinas the bowling alley- Oct 1, 1989 (Bush Library)

President Clinton and  Secretary of  State Madeleine Albright practice bowling in January 1998  (Courtesy; William J. Clinton Presidential Library)

Sources:  Camp David Tour; Living History; Eugene Register-Guard; The President is at Camp David; Gadsen TimesThe Swamp; From Mount Vernon to Crawford; Eisenhower Presidential Library; William J. Clinton Presidential Library; Bush Library; George W. Bush Library

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