President Dwight D. Eisenhower is Abilene, Kansas’ favorite son. Abilene is the boyhood home of “Ike,” who served two terms as president of the United States (1953-1961). I didn’t know much about Eisenhower until we visited Abilene this summer and realized the entire town is deeply in love with the famous WWII Army general who served as supreme allied commander and later became president. A visit to the museum and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum opened a treasure of vintage history for me. For the man who saw Alaska and Hawaii become states, signed the 1957 Civil Rights Act, signed the bill creating NASA, and authorized the Interstate Highway system, he still was a gentle man who loved children enough that he named a presidential retreat after his grandson, David. (Known as Camp David in Maryland.)
Then, I Met Mamie
Mamie Eisenhower was born Mamie Geneva Doud in Boone, Iowa. On July 1, 1916, Ike and Mamie were married at noon in the Doud family home in Denver — the same day Ike received his first Army promotion. Several of her wardrobe ensembles were on display in the museum and she had incredible taste in clothing and an eye for fashion. Her hourglass figure gave way to the “Mamie look,” which was typified by her one-piece dresses cinched tightly across the waist, just below the bust line. I would love to have worn everything I saw! Lovely colors, feminine lines, and so pretty and lively. I gather Mamie also had a bubbly personality and a heart for hospitality. Quoted from the presidential library’s website, “Although she lived and traveled all over the world, Mrs. Eisenhower always remained a person who was most happy at home surrounded by her family.”
The president died in 1969 and Mamie died in 1971. They were buried in the Place of Meditation at the Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Kansas beside their first son who died of scarlet fever at age four. If you ever get to Abilene, please don’t miss the chance to visit the museum and library. There are only 13 presidential libraries in the United States. Learn more about them here.
For anyone who lived through the Eisenhower years, I would love to know what you thought about First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. Please share your comments on this blog. I feel a kindred spirit or, as my friend Judy Martin would say, “sisters-under-the-skin.”
Mamie Eisenhower’s Sugar Cookie Recipe
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 Tablespoon cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix and sift flour, baking, powder and salt. Cream butter, add sugar and cream slowly until fluffy. Stir in well-beaten egg yolks and vanilla extract. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with cream. Chill for one hour, roll and cut in any desired shape. Sprinkle with sugar before baking. Bake in moderate oven 350 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes
Recipe Courtesy of Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau and West’s Country Mart.