Donald Trump Slept Here-And So Did I: A Visit to a Presidential Home in Queens; "In This Bedroom," the Sign Says in Calligraphic Font, "President Donald J. Trump Was Likely Conceived, by His Parents, Fred and Mary Trump. the World Has Never Been the Same."

By Nazaryan, Alexander | Newsweek, September 22, 2017 | Go to article overview

Donald Trump Slept Here-And So Did I: A Visit to a Presidential Home in Queens; "In This Bedroom," the Sign Says in Calligraphic Font, "President Donald J. Trump Was Likely Conceived, by His Parents, Fred and Mary Trump. the World Has Never Been the Same."


Nazaryan, Alexander, Newsweek


Byline: Alexander Nazaryan

Above the bed I am sitting on is a sign encased in a wooden frame. "In this bedroom," it says in calligraphic font, "President Donald J. Trump was likely conceived, by his parents, Fred and Mary Trump. The world has never been the same."

The bedroom is on the second floor of a Tudor house on Wareham Place, in a part of Queens called Jamaica Estates; that's in New York City but closer to Long Island than Manhattan. Far closer. The house is "vaguely faux-Tudorish," says Gwenda Blair, author of The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a President, and with its cream stucco facade, peaked roof and decorative wooden planks, it looks like the manse of a minor English lord. Every "good" suburb of Connecticut and New Jersey has such houses.

This was the house Fred C. Trump built in 1940, as he was becoming one of New York's most powerful real estate builders. His middle son, Donald, spent the first four years of his life here, from 1946 until 1950. What that log cabin was to Abraham Lincoln, this house is to Donald J. Trump. He is a New Yorker, sure, but not quite in the way of Manhattan-born Theodore Roosevelt. He is a man of Queens, like that other great defender of forgotten Americans, Archie Bunker.

As the Trump family grew in both size and wealth, the Wareham Place house became too small, so Fred moved his family one street over, to Midland Parkway. You can see that house from the bedrooms of the first Trump house. While the first house is on street level, the second is on a rise of land, already distancing itself from the people below.

Earlier this month, the Wareham Place house became available on Airbnb. "This is a unique and special opportunity to stay in the home of a sitting president," the listing says. The cost per night is $725. The listing also says the house can sleep 16, though most of those people have to be cool with bunk beds. Also, the woman who manages the listing, Ari, will be there the entire time. She lives in the attic.

The day before I am to spend the night in the Trump house, Ari informs me the hot water does not work. I decide this is punishment, maybe intentional and maybe karmic, for all the times I have called Trump an orange goofball or worse.

The final price, with taxes, is $816, making it more expensive to stay in Queens than at the Plaza in Manhattan. You might remember that glamorous hotel from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, a young Macaulay Culkin wandering its ornate, carpeted hallways. He asks a tall businessman in an overcoat how to get to the lobby. Trump points him "down the hall and to the left." Trump delivers the line with the knowing, hurried precision of a Manhattan native. All traces of his roots in Queens are gone.

***

Jamaica Estates is on the eastern edge of Queens, the New York borough sometimes called the most diverse place in America. To get there, I take the Flushing line. It is not the fastest way to Jamaica Estates, but the elevated train affords me the immense pleasure of floating above Queens, watching the signage of the low-rise neighborhoods change, from English to Urdu to Spanish to Korean, then back to English, then Russian.

Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker once took the Flushing line for a game against the New York Mets. He wasn't a fan. In a famous 1999 interview with Sports Illustrated, Rocker complained about having to sit "next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing."

Rocker kept going: "I'm not a very big fan of foreigners."

Neither is Trump, unless they are Russian billionaires. Russian billionaires do not live in Queens, and the people who do live in Queens are not big fans of Trump. Of the 473,289 people who voted in the presidential election in Queens, 75. …

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Donald Trump Slept Here-And So Did I: A Visit to a Presidential Home in Queens; "In This Bedroom," the Sign Says in Calligraphic Font, "President Donald J. Trump Was Likely Conceived, by His Parents, Fred and Mary Trump. the World Has Never Been the Same."
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