Rebecca the White House Raccoon

Rebecca the Raccoon, with friend

 

Too cute to eat? The Coolidges were known as an animal-friendly family, but White House personnel wasn’t too pleased with one particular pet of Calvin and Grace’s, for it constantly tore up clothing, particularly the First Lady’s silk stockings. This little rascal was a raccoon named Rebecca, and she was, as raccoons go, fairly well behaved, as the president stated in one of his press conferences.

Originally a Thanksgiving present for the Coolidges, intended as dinner by the Peruvian diplomat who made the gift, the Coolidges could not bring themselves to eat her but rather had a comfy tree house built for her on the White House grounds. The omnivorous animal had her meals – preferably eggs, chicken, and cream- in a White House bathroom. “In the bathtub, with just some water and a bar of soap to play with, she could amuse herself for hours,” wrote Grace Coolidge.

His daily work done, president Coolidge enjoyed a walk with Rebecca on a leash. But after the adventurous animal managed to sneak out a few times for a bit of sightseeing, the Coolidges feared for her safety and gave her to the Washington Zoo.

A Coolidge Easter pictorial

The White House grounds were opened to throngs of children for the Easter Egg Roll in 1927 – the president did not take part in the rolling, but waved to his young visitors from a safe distance:

Mrs. Coolidge delighted the crowd by displaying her pet raccoon. Apparently, though, the raccoon failed to displace the Easter Bunny as a seasonal mascot:

A well-dressed couple, the Coolidges attended Easter Sunday services in 1927 (all photos from the digital archives of the Library of Congress):