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Mamie's Mary Jane

1953 - Sorting over old buttons and mayonnaise jars is all in a day's work to Mrs. Mary Jane McCaffree, personal secretary to America's First Lady, Mamie Eisenhower.

Seems that hundreds of people write the White House asking for souvenirs—everything from silverware and discarded clothing to old buttons, empty bottles, and mayonnaise jars.

"Mrs. Eisenhower keeps a supply of buttons on hand for such requests," says Mary Jane, "and the kitchen can usually handle the bottle and jar demand."

Mary Jane sees to it that all such requests are satisfied. But that, of course, is a small part of her duties. Each day she makes and takes dozens of phone calls, welcomes visitors, shoos off pests, sounds Mamie out on what invitations she wants to accept, sorts mail into various categories for answering, and accompanies Mamie whenever she goes out, whether it's shopping or to a fancy Washington tea. In fact, Mary Jane keeps so busy that she, herself, requires a secretary.

Promptly at 9 a.m. Mary Jane arrives at her office on the second floor of the East Wing of the White House. Next comes a conference with Mamie, during which they juggle a timetable to accommodate the many appointments for the day.

Mary Jane works at the office until 6, 7, or 8 p.m., then loads hundreds of letters into a couple of oversized brief cases for a work session at home, which sometimes lasts until 2 or 3 in the morning.

Mamie's Girl Friday says the First Lady likes to have the public call her "Mamie," regarding it as an expression of friendliness. Businesslike Mary Jane, however, always addresses her as "Mrs. Eisenhower."

Mary Jane is a native of New York City. She and her husband, Dr. Floyd McCaffree, have long been active Republicans. Before her marriage, 4 years ago, she had been a secretary and office manager. Mamie offered her her present position last summer, when the two met through mutual friends.

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