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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Presidential Families

Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016

My dear wife Helen said, “Why don’t we go over to the ‘Little Truman White House’ and see the ‘Presidential Families Symposium’…Harry & Ike: The Partnership that Transformed the World!” I said, “Sounds pretty interesting and the cost was reasonable.

Clifton Truman Daniels, Mary Lou Pfieffer and
Mary Jean Eisenhower

Mary Jean Eisenhower and Clifton Truman Daniel spoke about their grandparents. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but to my surprise it was truly informative and interesting. Their grandfather’s roots as farm children growing up in the 1880s, the desire to serve in the military, their common views on rebuilding Europe following the war, multiple offers of Truman’s support for Ike as a presidential candidate and the feud during the 1952 election and the eventual reunion as close friends.

Mary Jean Eisenhower with the grey sweater
looks a lot like her grandfather Ike!

Professor Mary Lou Pfieffer, of Florida University, was the moderator. The information that was presented was too numerous to detail here in this blog, but I can tell you we listened to some neat stories about their grandparents! Mary Lou did a marvelous job as a moderator.

What I found the most fascinating was Mary Jean and Clifton’s recollections of meeting the grand children of famous world leaders: Nikita Kruschef (sp), President of Russia, Charles DeGault, President of France and Stalin’s grandson.

General McArthur’s putdown answer when asked what he thought of General Eisenhower running for president. His answer was. “He was a great clerk”!

When fishing was GOOD!

Mary Jean recounted that when McArthur was asked by the president of the Philippines to help buildup the Philippines Armed Forces, before WWII, he said, “If am going to act like a president, I should have better living accommodations. She said she visited his super luxurious living quarters at the best hotel in Manila. She couldn’t believe how much luxury he had swallowed up for himself.

JFK On tour after the Cuban Missile Crisis

Clifton recalled how Ike’s son was serving in the military in Korea during the conflict and he (the son) didn’t want to leave his post when his father was sworn in as president. Both Ike and his son didn’t want him to come, but Harry Truman said, “As president I ordered him to come”. That started a rift between Ike and Harry that lasted a long time. Eventually, both men became friends again. During the Eisenhower era, the Interstate Highway system was built. As one section from Harry Truman’s home state of Missouri to Eisenhower’s home state of Maryland was built, the name on the Truman end was called “The Truman and Eisenhower Interstate Highway”. On the Eisenhower end it was “Eisenhower and Truman Interstate Highway”. One wonders if this was still a tiny part of the rift between the two presidents?

The symposium atmosphere was very casual. I felt like both Clifton and Mary Jean were sitting in my living room having a quiet evening chat. Of course, my living room doesn’t hold 100 people, but the hundred were quiet as church mice.

President Jimmy Carter

One has to stop and think of how many world leaders have sat in this very garden. How treaties and world problems were discussed and resolved and some not.

The Little White House was built by the U. S. Navy in 1890 as the home, on the waterfront, to house the base commander and paymaster. Truman used the house for 175 days as both a retreat and functioning White House. He did this when the Big White House in Washington was being totally rebuilt.

Secretary of State Colin Powell

I discovered why John F. Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Colin Powell visited and why the Little White House became a working Presidential Office where new policies and the Department of Defense came into being.

In March of 1918, Thomas Edison resided at the “Little White House” at the time known as Quarters A&B, while donating his services to the Navy. In 1912, President William Howard Taft visited the Naval Station on route to inspect the Panama Canal. There aren’t many dignitaries that haven’t been or stayed at this historic building (now a museum).

In summing up, we were impressed!

That is what we saw and did!

The first two top pictures are mine, the rest were taken from "The Little White House" publication

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