An Independent Woman: The Life of Lou Henry Hoover

By Anne Beiser Allen; Jon L. Wakelyn | Go to book overview
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Chapter 10
A Working Wife and Mother

Busy as she was with the Girl Scouts and the Women's Division of the NAAF, Lou always put her family's affairs first. Herbert Jr. had entered Stanford in the fall of 1921. Though he lived in a dormitory, he was still supervised (at a distance) by George Harrison, who hoped to complete his Ph.D. by the end of the spring term. Lou was never completely happy when she was separated from her sons for extended periods of time. She felt it was important that they have someone responsible nearby to advise them and, if necessary, inform her of any serious problems. George Harrison was a particularly good choice for this role -- young enough for Herbert to be able to relate to him, sufficiently mature to provide a good example, and sensible enough not to interfere unnecessarily in Herbert's affairs.

Harrison was also responsible for looking after the new house. While Lou had hired her longtime servant Alfred Butler and his daughter Carrie to do the day-today house and garden work, she was reluctant to give them the added responsibility of paying bills and making decisions about upkeep. Harrison supervised their work and looked after the house, sending Lou regular reports, in return for his room and board and a small stipend.

In early 1922 Lou accompanied her husband to Colorado for a meeting of the Colorado River Commission. When it ended, Bert and Lou went to Palo Alto, where their old friend and former professor John Casper Branner had recently died. For both Hoovers, this was a significant loss. It was Branner who had inspired both of them as young students in his geology classes. The former university president had been writing his memoirs, and Lou undertook to help his heirs find a publisher for them.


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