Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Dwight D. Eisenhower was our 34th President but when he retired to his farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he wanted the title he was most comfortable with, General Eisenhower or to personal friends, his nickname from childhood, Ike. A Kansas farm boy with no aspirations to be a General, let alone a President, he wanted to retire as a farmer and did so. He eventually gifted his 189 acre farm to the National Park Service in 1967 with the stipulation he and Maime could live their until their deaths. The residence has most of their original belongings along with pictures and historical mementos.

Maime liked things formal and the living room was her domain with beautiful draperies, credenzas with her many glassware collections, and fancy antique furnishings. Also present are numerous family photographs on every table and wall.

Maime wasn't much for cooking and the Eisenhower's preferred to eat on trays and saved the dining room for formal occasions. The Eisenhowers had state visitors to the farm. She had a guest book for everyone to sign.  Kruschev visited the farm and Ike failed to get him to sign it. She was upset about that failed signature and let it be known it must never happen again. Ike was President, but she was the undisputed household manager; she controlled their finances and made the house rules.

Ike's favorite room was the closed in back porch where he would sit with heads of state in this informal setting and look out the windows over the green fields and his putting green. He and Maime enjoyed the morning sun and breakfast from this porch; they played cards and watched television here.

Though he didn't need to farm, he went at it with a vengeance, raising breeding stock and a fine herd of Black Angus cattle with partners who bought adjacent lands, also part of the National Park. His prize animals were kept in a special heated barn with hot running water for the hands. The show cattle were groomed and bathed in warm water weekly.

Many interesting accoutrements that personalize the President and give insight into the life of this special man make it an interesting visit. Bells, a flag pole, unusual gifts, souveniers of a life in the armed services from the many places he was stationed are all here. He had built and outdoor barbeque and party room where he loved to serve guests Black Angus steaks.  A guest house, his farm equipment, cars and barns are all here. But the thing that epitomized Eisenhower for me was the putting green just steps from the porch doors.

The Park Service bought farms surrounding Eisenhower's Farm. They are leased to local farmers and help pay for the upkeep, prevent development and maintain the look of times past.

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