to walk, to ride or to take part in a game.”
That’s the problem that Herbert Hoover faced when he took the presidency back in 1928. Sure, running the country is hard work, but you still have to keep in shape.
Fortunately, this problem was solved ingeniously by White House physician Admiral Joel T. Boone. Boone created a game for the President and his staff which required very little equipment, and very little skill but which provided the perfect amount of daily physical activity.
The game was simple – it was a combination of volley ball and tennis, yet played with a medicine ball. Team members simply hurled the medicine ball back and forth over an eight foot high net. Points were scored when a ball hit the ground on the opposing teams side.
As Hoover wrote in his Memoirs:
And Will Irvin, a friend of the president, remarked:
Early each morning from four to 18 VIPs would show up for the games on the south lawn of the White House and at 7:00 sharp they choose partners and begin. They played until 7:30 when a factory down by the Potomac blew a loud whistle.
They played every morning of the week and paid little attention to the weather, whether it was cold, windy, rainy or snowing, they played almost always without fail, with the exception of an unusually drenching downpour where they retreated to the White House basement for their games.
Only once during his presidency did Hoover ever miss a game.
This facility is actually famous for several other reasons: It was one of the first centers of widespread basketball interest and activity in the US… in fact, the team that practiced in this gym, headed by Alfred “The Kid” Abadie and his brother Bob, won the very first national AAU tournament championship in 1898. Charles Merrill and Edmund Lynch (of Merrill Lynch) are said to have met in the swimming pool sometime in 1913 and, as the story goes, many decades later, it was this location that inspired the Village People song “Y.M.C.A.”
Around a decade ago, the building was sold and this area was turned into luxury apartments.