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It Happened in the White House Review by Jennifer Harrision

Lynn Ruehlmann
Cascade Productions
(757) 625-6742
621 New Hampshire Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23508

It Happened in the White House is an energetic CD that brings to life the tale of the First Ladies of the eight Virginia Presidents. Listeners become intimately acquainted with the eight Presidents and their wives. These tales are creatively shared through the viewpoint of many different observers. Storyteller Lynn Ruehlmann transports listeners with unique voices and personalities for each of the characters she presents. It is easy to imagine that the characters are truly sharing their stories with us. The facts of the stories are quite true, though the characters passed on long ago. Lynn Ruehlmann does an incredible job of bringing them to life on this CD.

The first character to give a "firsthand" account is a friend to Martha Washington, Mrs. Chamberlayne. Mrs. Chamberlayne was a childhood friend of Martha Washington, and it was at her plantation that Martha and George Washington first met.

Thomas Jefferson's daughter Martha, also known as Patsy, shares her father's impressive tale through her own eyes.

James Madison and darling of the White House, Dolly Madison, are described by a young neighbor girl whose mother frequently had tea with Dolly Madison. Lynn Ruehlmann did an incredible job portraying an energetic little girl. My kids found this delightful and hilarious. I found it a bit grating but had to appreciate how strongly it drew them into the details of the story.

William Henry Harrison's lengthy inauguration speech and brief presidency are detailed in Lynn's own voice. A servant at the White House who is outraged at gossip about the First Lady relates James and Elizabeth Monroe's story. The servant is quick to defend her and the President, working in the history of the President's life as a soldier and minister to France. Elizabeth's role in the rescue of Adrienne de La Fayette is detailed.

A singer at a banquet shares the meeting of Julia Gardiner and John Tyler, after his succession to the presidency, at sea. Here, the ship experienced a tragedy that took the life of Julia's father yet provided an opportunity for the couple to grow closer.

A tourist visiting the White House tells Zachary and Margaret's tale. Comically, the tourist nabbed a tuft of hair from the stuffed warhorse on the White House Lawn.

Woodrow Wilson's wife Edith is discussed by a friend of Edith's thirty years after their first meeting. Edith's friend shares Edith's recollection of her first meeting with Woodrow Wilson, their following romance, and Edith's incredible contributions to her husband's presidency.

The CD is just a little under an hour long. Lynn's voice is so mesmerizing, even my preschooler sat contentedly listening for that entire hour! To hear a sample of this storyteller's talents, be sure to visit her website at

Product review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010