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Talking With Fala

July 2024
1min read

Artist Leo Hershfield has supplied us with this charming reminiscence of an unusual visit to the White House in 1944, before it was the citadel of ominous mysteries that it seems today. “During an interval when I was an artist-correspondent I thought up assignments for myself. One of the less successful was the ‘interview’ with Fala at the White House. The white-jacketed doorman led Fala and me to a room adjoining the Oval Room and left me alone with my subject. That was an eerie affair. Voices, muffled, far off somewhere in the White House. The room with the microphones and one of F.D.R.’s wheelchairs. I think this was where the President made his Fireside Chat broadcasts. I sketched Fala who was an aging dog by that time and, after sitting up and rolling over (two tricks he had down pat but performed lethargically) he dozed off under the full-length portrait of President Garfield.

“The atmosphere of that White House was somewhat different than the present. There seemed to be, in retrospect, no security to speak of even though there was a war on. I had my interview with no credentials of a White House correspondent and, of course, no frisking.”

Mr. Hershfield’s sketch of his lethargic subject appears below.

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