"Filipino mess boys" at the White House

Some time ago, I watched a former assistant to Lyndon Johnson interviewed on C-Span. He made several references to the “Filipino Mess Boys” who staffed the White House as kitchen help and waiters in the Kennedy and Johnson years. One caller even tried to take him for task on this, but the man insisted that as they were Filipinos, and also were “Mess Boys”, there was nothing factually wrong in his statement.

Anyway, I sort of wrote it off as a relic of a time when the White House, as well as many other high government offices or private clubs, still relied exclusively on ‘colored help’. I was quite surprised yesterday when I read an item from a 1976 edition of Playboy (which I just now noticed had articles) that mentioned President Ford’s “Filipino Stewards” (a step up from “Mess Boys” I presume). How long did the White House have mostly Filipino help? I don’t imagine it still does. Also why Filipinos? And were these people civilian employees or naval personel.

The White House mess is run by the Navy. Filipino nationals were allowed to join the Navy as mess attendants and stewards. http://www.louisville.edu/a-s/english/subcultures/colors/blue/ammanu01/navy.html

yoyo: A more precise explanation would be that, under the terms of the Status of Forces Act (SOFA) between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America, a certain number of male Philippine citizens were permitted to enlist in the United States Navy in those ratings and they were considered Non-immigrant Aliens (NIA). After a while, more ratings were opened to the NIA. This program continued until the SOFA expired.

All Rates that were not security-intensive were open to Filipinos: Mess Management Speciallists (from which Rate the Navy staffs it’s barracks, galleys, and related activities, including the White House’s Mess), Storekeepers, Electrician’s Mates, and so on.

And would there be a sentence in there, Intaglio?

In other words: What?

He fell asleep before he finished it. :smiley:

Perhaps I can translate navy to english.

Ratings (not rate which is the same as rank or pay grade) are what occupational specialties are called in the navy. Mess management specialist is a highfalutin’ way of saying “cook.” All navy petty officers from E-4 (third class petty officer equivalent so seargeant) must have a rating of some type. There is no “catchall” rating like infantry might be to the Army or Marine Corps. Navy ratings are fewer and more broad than say, the air force where there are many more ultra-specialized specialties, so MMS encompasses a lot more than just slinging hash.