tv First Lady Mamie Eisenhower CSPAN November 9, 2013 7:00pm-8:31pm EST
announced his bid for reelection. we are discussing be first lady mamie eisenhower. welcome to the c-span series "first ladies: influence and image." mamie eisenhower's turn. we have a historian and author of a biography on mamie eisenhower. we also welcome back edith mayo. she is one of our driving forces among academic his orients. nice to see you again. what should we take away watching that piece of video from the 1950's? about her popularity? about the use of television? >> the film clip that you showed from the birthday celebration in march of 1956 there was a show.
it was an election year. democrats want equal time. this is, in their view, a campaign had. the president of cbs and a close friend of the eisenhower's -- eisenhowers said that it is not equal time because this is nonpolitical entertainment with the first lady. eisenhower'sie birthday is in november, a few days away from the election. obviously there was some political background to this. if you watch the show at the time, what you saw beside the singing and the celebration were a lot of people talking about mamie eisenhower. with real affection. they wanted to get across or re-
emphasize how really popular she was at the time will stop --. -- at the time. >> the eisenhower campaign was the first televised campaign. there was a whole range of new techniques that were brought to the fore for that campaign. there were these wonderfully man in the street" interviews. they were supposed to be spontaneous, but were obviously quite rehearsed. that was quite a new feature for a campaign will stop -- for a campaign. you had all of these bouncing balls and bouncing elephants that said "i for president." "i like ike."
there was a whole range of things. part of the excuse for having the celebration for mamie was that she so epitomized the 1950's, particularly with american women. if she had not been there to do it, someone else would have. >> we will have 90 minutes to learn more about mamie eisenhower. and the time she spent in the white house. thispecial thing about program is that we have live cameras in gettysburg, pennsylvania. the farm is 90 miles away from washington, d.c. all stop it takes two hours to drive their. it is far from the town center. bought this in the 1960's. they spent their retirement years here. this is mimi's bedroom --
mamie's at durham. she had an affinity for paying. paying -- pink. we will be back to that later. we will get back to that special where we talk about her biography as well. >> you members of our organization and hardest thing was gas will enjoy this salute to our first ladies -- first lady. it is a party. >> how you do? thank you for inviting me. birthdays phyllis what memories
tell us more. she was the last first lady born in the 19 century. >> she was born in boone, iowa. she was the last first lady to be born in the 19th century. her family lived in boone until she was eight years old. then they lived in colorado and that is where she grew up. one of the photographs showed her in san antonio will stop -- san antonio. one of her sisters had health problems. rheumatic fever. she was almost an invalid. antonio, were in san they went with some friends and that is where mamie was first introduced to ike.
>> he was a second lieutenant at the time. >> he was very serious. when they wrote about this meeting, he was really not interested in any kind of girl or girlfriend. duty-oriented. his job in the military. swept him off his feet. >> or vice versa. >> absolutely. >> a married a short time after they met. she was wealthy, a debutante. her father warned her off of military life. -- mamie's parents really like ike.
they thought he was a wonderful young man. her father even told her that when he was coming around to visit, she should stop being so flighty and going off with other young men to party. she should pay attention to ike. when they got married, he told mamie that they could not expect any money from him. they would have to live on i's military pay. not cared she did about that, she just wanted batman. -- that man. >> she went to a tiny military apartment. she was living a comfortable life of plenty of money. her.s quite a shock for she had learned from her father about budgeting and how to spend money and the money.
it was difficult in the early days of their marriage, but she always manage to live on ike's salary. reversal,ical role mamie handled the family finances. she said that was the secret to a good marriage. with the finances, the husband should turn the check over to his wife. if he started purchasing things and opening accounts, everything was go to hell in a handbasket. interesting because we will talk about her at the academy of the media creation -- of the mediapitome creation of the 1950's woman. she was handling the finances and he was domestic.
he cooked the meals. mamie took a domestic science class when they became engaged. but when they move their marriage date to july 1, rather than in november after she , her domestic science classes were cut short. he really did the cooking. as we do to invite you every week to participate in our program as we learn about american history through the lives of the first ladies. you can dial in. you can tweet us using the twitter handle @firstladies. or you can post on our facebook page.
we have 90 minutes together. after they are married their first child is born. >> i am thinking it is three years after. he gets the unusual nickname of "icky." when i see it spell i want to pronounce it "ike-y." he was just the apple of their eye. wherever they were, he was like the little mascot that everybody took to. he died at the age of 3 of scarlet fever. it happened so quickly and in that time. period, ittime sounds strange to say today, but the public only -- almost
expected one child to die of a childhood aziz -- disease. the medical care, there were not the things you could do about it. they were devastated. verify that many of the presidents lost children. it is a recurring theme in most of the presidential families all the way from the beginning. even though it is common, it is not easy. >> no. it is always hard to matter when it happens. in an era without modern drugs, it happened frequently. it happened to their son. >> then their son john is born. one of the things that john said, and i think he said it in several different veins, is that
his parents never made him feel as if he was a replacement for the child they lost. he was his own person. his own special self. eisenhowers way the as a couple were. they took people as they were, but that did not mean that they totally forgot the first child. place formade another another child in their lives. say, was, i would overprotective. >> [laughter] ike wase early years, gone a lot. >> there was one year in which they moved three times. sometimes when he was posted for a very short time, mamie would go back to denver with the family.
there was a keyword of time when i was on a transcontinental convoy, a military exercise to take military traps all the way across the country and testing roads, bridges. america's out how bad transportation and road systems were. mamie wast time, alone. they were back and forth. that is something that every military wife faced at one time or another. you might live in how many different hosts -- posts in a short period of time. >> that is what they took to their white house years. they were always entertainers. they did a lot of entertaining
at their various posts. many times the eisenhower home was called "club eisenhower." because of their entertaining of the troops and military personnel. going back to how many moves they made over a. , theyiod of years treasured their years in the white house because it was a permanent home for eight years. and then they purchased the farm in gettysburg. that was their first family home. >> i have a photograph to show the audience of mamie. at what point in his career did they become popularly-known? >> i would say in the 1930's. when they were first married in they quickly became a couple that invited other
military couples into their home. they would have saturday or sunday evening potlucks. they would play cards. they were very social. they rented a pn o mamie played and they saying -- apn oh -- a played and mamie they sang. mamie is behind the wheel of the jeep as if she can actually drive it. by her own account, she had not driven an automobile since 1930s that. -- since 1936. the two women with her are friends of hers. long-term military wives who had had the same kind of moving it there in says -- moving experien
ces. >> the war comes and dwight eisenhower was leading the allies in europe. where was mimi -- mamie during the war? >> she lived in washington, d the, in an apartment. she was hoping that there will be times when i was allowed to come back home. he did a couple of times. also there's son john was at -- signnt -- their sign -- son john was at west point. she wanted to be close to see john. later in the war, she went to stay with her sister. >> let's take our first phone
call from mark in indianapolis. >> i have a question for your s.s -- guest could any of them tell me what life was like in the philippines for mamie eisenhower? i cannot wait for next week when you guys finally talk about jackie kennedy. >> life in the philippines and life in panama, both were extremely uncomfortable from amy would be eat and humidity. it was somewhat primitive. the philippines where they lived was much more comfortable. they had a very nice apartment. it was air-conditioned. , she haderiod of time a difficult time to adjust to the environment. she did not do well in the he. -- heat.
of time inperiods the philippines when she suffered some health problems. >> there were a number of generals who were elected to the white house. prepare therole first couple for life in the white house? were all kinds of executive and administrative iketions -- decisions that was used to making as a general. four mamie, the intertwining of heads of state well her husband , accordingd of nato to her own testimony, was something that prepared her for entertaining in the white house. she knew how to do it and she was confident about doing it. she love that part of the first lady role. georgia -- in georgia.
about howtion is politically involved mamie was before she entered the white house? eisenhower dwight was not political before he was elected president. he didn't even know what party he was a member of before 1952. did she expressed much interest in politics? >> no. she and white probably knew less about politics than anyone else. she made a comment about politics in terms of the party. that was in letters to her father, back and forth. her father was a strong republican. out of politeness, mamie would commiserate with him in a letter that roosevelt had done something that her father did not approve of. mamie was not political in the
least. >> the world war ii years. we have questions from facebook and twitter. they are about kay sutherby. ike have an affair with kay sutherby? who was kay sutherby? >> she was often referred to as eisenhower's driver. there were several people who drove him around and kept his appointment calendar.she was in eisenhower headquarters. she was engaged to an american officer. he was tragically killed in the fighting in north africa. she stayed on at the headquarters and rumors began that they were having an affair. the research i did, and i think what other people are beginning
to look at, for example a letter that says eisenhower was going to ask mimi for a divorce, there have been a number of historians nked thisbonked -- debu rumor. it is hard to imagine that commander, the allied of the european theater is acting like a schoolboy in puppy love. kay around, which is what she alleges in her book. did mamie know? there wasn't anything for mamie to know except for the rumors. they were very hurtful to her. it was the kind of thing that went on and on, especially after
kay summerby's book. it was very hurtful for mamie. >> what do you have to say about the affair? >> i have not done that research and primary sources. the family denies it very vehemently. it is interesting to hear somebody who is actually looked at the primary sources. it is not just the family. outhen summerby's book came , people who were still alive and had been at the eisenhower headquarters, including one of summerby's roommate came out and said that nothing had happened. they could not explain why she would have created this rumor. >> another question from jane.
>> a lot of military wives and retirees are watching tonight. thank you for the show. mamiestion, were eisenhower and pat nixon friendly? how did that work out? >> they were friendly. the friendship continued after the eisenhowers were out of the white house. mamie liked pat immediately when she met her. she said, "you are just the prettiest little thing." the friendship continued. >> a caller in georgia. >> how are you doing this evening? >> we are fine. what is your question?
>> i understand that during the inaugural ball she wore a pink thatand from that point on color was named "mamie pink." the that color still exist? >> we will see a lot of it. a designer was responsible for creating this popular first lady's down. -- gown. pastel pia castel -- nk. she decided that she wanted to have a little extra flair. put 2000ner planet -- pink rhinestones on the g
own. pink" was a very popular color in the 1950's especially as a household color theme. pink werend gray and a big color theme in the 1950's . gownsd a number of formal that were charcoal and gray and pink. that shade was certainly popular in the 1950's . here is a look at the important positions eisenhower held before the white house. after the war he came back to washington and served in dcs the army chief of staff. he left the military and went to columbia university in new york where he served as president. president truman appointed him as the supreme nato commander.
during this time at columbia university in the 1940's, the two of them began to consider a retreat and gettysburg, pennsylvania. we will take you there in just a moment. first we will hear from mamie herself talking about how important the farm was. have you allke to come and sit here on the porch with me. i have spent so many happy hours here. we can sit out and look at the green trees overhead. cattle appear in the field. now is thescreen formal living room at the eisenhower farm and gettysburg, pennsylvania. joining us at the entryway is alice evans. she is a park ranger.
eisenhowers began to think about retirement, gettysburg was a natural choice. eisenhower was fascinated by the history of gettysburg. he was a civil war buff from childhood. he was very interested in farming. he wanted to find a farm that needed a little bit of help where he could retire. >> this was a working farm? >> a dairy farm. >> when did they start living here? >> shortly after they purchased the farm, eisenhower was an overseas to work for nato. when he returned for the presidency, they began renovations. they lived here in 1955. >> during the presidency, how many days did he and here --
spend here? >> 360 days. it was their primary residence, the only home they own together. inauguration in january 19 62, what happened? car and theyhe drove up with secret service following them. they began their retired life together. >> we are here in the entryway and we have been hearing about the color pink on the program. i want to start by pointing out a very pink room. me'se dining room shows me -- mamie's love of color. it is very typical of her. it is dressed for thanksgiving right now.
she loves holidays and having her friends and family together on these important days. >> how original is everything in here? >> it is 90% original. that is their silverware. >> you see mamie on the end and the president on the other end. then you have mrs. nixon. those are the name cards. >> oh yes. their son began to date julie nexen -- nixon. they were friends and political partners. >> how much of the decorating did mamie do in the house? >> it is her taste and design. she had an interior decorator, but she was consulted with. it is her taste. >> throughout the evening we will bring you into other rooms
in the house. just 2.8 period on the conversation they're having back in washington, did mamie eisenhower ever meet kay som ummerby? >> she did at a social engagement after the war. she was not affected by that meeting. she was aware of the rumors. it did not affect her. >> we will be back to the eisenhower farm and gettysburg later. >> around the time of the purchase of the farm, the eisenhowers began to be drafted by both political parties. they were not partisan and both parties thought they could recruit them. tell us how they ended up with the republican party. >> there was a grassroots movement, citizens for eisenhower.
little groups of people all over the country forming and pushing for eisenhower to run for president and to run as a republican. nato,e is working for there are people flying in to see ike and tried to talk him into running on the republican ticket. he is not -- he does not come out and say what he will and will not do because of his position and what he is doing a nato. one of the stories mamie tells is that they are in france with nato. it is christmas time. people are sending christmas packages from the united states. they open this one package and
it is from citizens for eisenhower, and there are all these little ike"e hat and "i like pins. they are having guests over. ike is in the library. mamie get this box and they all put the paraphernalia on. when he comes back in the room, there they are. faceok one look, his turned red with anger, and then they burst out laughing. people thought that eisenhower was perhaps a democrat. what was the tension between the trumans and eisenhower? >> i don't know. i am sure you know more about that. some information on
how badly truman and eisenhower came to dislike each other. how did they feel, and how cold they were. mamie and bess truman were good friends. truman'st to mrs. spanish classes. there is a photograph of bess showing mamie around the white house. they look like two girlfriends canoodling in the corner. -- regardless of of somebody's a little affiliation, she could get along with them. that was the case even if their husbands were having problems. it did not affect how mamie and bess truman got along. >> how much did mimi reversal into the campaign -- mamie throw
herself into the campaign humo -- campaign? >> i think she threw herself into it. it turns out to be a watershed for presidential wives and political campaigning. boon toshe was a great the republican party. they liked the fact that she connected with the women of america. her onstarted asking for the eisenhower campaign trail. they did political stuff across the country. speech,nd of ike's people would say "we want mamie." there was a lot of clapping and people would call out for mamie to appear. he began to say, "would you like
to meet my mamie?" >> she was a tremendous hit. she would court local politicians and give interviews. she turned out to be quite a asset. visited the eisenhower presidential library and museum in abilene, kansas. it is a place that you can go visit. you are seeing photos of it on the screen. you will see some campaign trail paraphernalia that is related to mamie. significantaign is because women outnumbered men in the electorate. campaignhower-nixon cater to this demographic with all kinds of fashion accessories including the eisenhower official campaign hat. it was designed by one of mamie's the red hat designers --
favorite hat designers. there were also earrings and heart-shaped pendants. buttons.ke" notice that mamie's name comes first on this charm bracelet. think --even a "mimi "mamie pink." buttons to support mamie. no lady is complete without a corsage. all of these accessories would have been worn with this wonderful ike print dress. often worn at campaign rallies and conventions. now let's see some more memorabilia and what mamie ward to the first inauguration.
we have the wonderful "i like ike" gloves. quotei like ike does stockings for the ladies. this led to eisenhower winning be 1952 election. mamie ward is suited to the election. the hat is by her favorite hat designer. >> we have a wonderful collection of ike memorabilia and campaign materials. not to that extent. the republican party went completely wild with putting out materials that promoted the campaign and mamie herself. i think that this resonated with people because of the curator
was saying, this was the first time that women's vote caught up with the number of men voting. their voting participation had lied behind until 1952. of the women's division of the republican party had to thatup with three areas would appeal particularly to women in the campaign. they emphasized bringing the boys home from korea, which was imaged in the sense of bringing your husband, son, boyfriend home. i was the military hero who would do that. the second thing that they was scandals within the truman administration. in the sense that
any housewife could clean up a mass in her home. there were all kinds of cleaning pails and scrub brushes and brooms and lapel pins in the shape of brooms that were put outside the eisenhower campaign. so women would identify with cleaning up the mess in washington. the third thing was the economy. that was imaged as every woman has to stay within her budget. why can't the government do the same? they put out enormous grocery bags that had ike and dick written on them. it was supposed to indicate that any woman could balance her home budget, therefore the government should do the same. the grocery bags were going to be extra-large because this is how much more your budget is ike and go if you elect
pick -- and dick. >> in the 1950's, many american homes had television. that number began to grow. >> there were a lot of advertisements in the campaign. ike and mamie as a commodity, a product that could be sold to american consumers. >> on the other side, at least evenson was divorced -- adlai stevenson was divorced. >> he was also a unitarian, which was seen as something like an atheist. ike and dick were god-fearing man.
they were supposed to defend against "rodless communism -- "godless communism." >> with mamie, she is someone that the image makers are not making her who she is. she is being herself. that is why i said earlier that if she had not come along and done what she did as herself, she would have had to be invented. >> exactly. she is so natural in that situation. >> how much influence did mimi have?n i -- mamie wondered, but i do not think there is any discussion that they made public about how
they decided, or he decided. if her father, being a republican, if he and ike, being on good terms, had any influence. i just do not know. it has more to do with who would have been running for president in a republican slot if not eisenhower. runnhower really agreed to because when he looked at the other candidate, he could not see them, especially if they were going to be isolationists, in the world as it was after world war ii. it was almost as if he said, if it has to be me, i can handle this better than these people can. >> david is watching us in san francisco. you're on. >> hi.
>> were listening. david, go ahead of your question. >> i am curious as to what the eisenhowers stance or position was on the civil rights issue in the 1950's. >> thank you very much. we will talk about that more later, but briefly. >> eisenhower is finally being recognized for his contribution in the civil rights era. not only for what happened with little rock and sending troops eisenhower integrated washington, d.c.. >> in what way? >> washington had been a segregated city. going back to wilson. eisenhower, they simply
integrated the city. >> how do you integrate the city? what were they doing? >> they were inviting blacks to attend white house functions. they dismantled the segregation in the that was alsot something that went on during the eisenhower administration. a desegregation of the federal workforce. >> people were wearing the eisenhower dresses. >> yes. he never really intel recently -- until recently, got the credit for the strong stance he took in little rock in sending
the federal troops. that was a shocking thing in the 1950's. by the time you get to the 60's and everyone knows about them -- johnson, in the 1950's, this was a shocking move. >> you talked about the entertainers. one of the thing that changed about be number of social events that we had with the arrival of air travel and postwar diplomacy. there were many visits of official people coming to washington during the eisenhower years. we will return to gettysburg to the farm to look at how the eisenhowers entertained their. we will learn how they entertained officially touring their time at the white house.
>> i am here at the farm alyce evans. >> we are seeing mamie in her inaugural gown. it is a copy of the white house portrait. mamie was a big the nl player. player. piano >> alyce evans, we are in the formal living room. how much entertaining was done in here? >> surprisingly not a lot of entertaining. president eisenhower was not a big fan of israel and its decor, but it definitely shows mamie as first lady in this room. her understanding of etiquette and rules and regulations. she wanted to put her guests on display.
this room is mostly decorated with gifts given to them over the years from friends, family, and dignitaries. >> how is it that the eisenhowers were able to keep their gifts? >> he was the last president who was allowed to keep his gifts. >> mamie like porcelain. a lot of those gifts were presented to her. >> i want to ask you about this portrait of mamie eisenhower. >> that torture was done before she was first lady. -- that portrait was done before she was first lady. youaptures her spirit and see a little bit of her vitality and her femininity in this portrait. >> before we leave israel, two more items to ask you about.
the upholstery on the couch, is it all original? >> yes it is. this sofa is interesting. they purchased in 1933 and had the slipcover made to match the decor. this coffee table was a gift from the wife of the president of south korea. the anniversary of the cease-fire, the end of the korean war. has an inscription in korean from the wife of the president of south korea to the wife of the president of the united states. >> where did that fireplace come from? >> it was a gift from their white house staff on the occasion of their 38th wedding anniversary. >> how were they able to get white house private property in their home? >> we can trace that back to julia grant.
fireplaces were the rage. she had the meyer -- marble fireplaces moved and put into storage. they were sold into private hands in the 1950's. the white house staff was able to track down this piece and presented to the eisenhowers. >> alyce evans, how would the eisenhowers use this room? >> the big time when they would use it was christmas. they would have presents for all the grandchildren spread across the room. mamie would be at the pn oh -- the piano singing christmas carols. >> we will see the porch next time we come back to gettys were -- gettysburg. >> thank you george cawley who is at the eisenhower farm -- our
colleague who was at the get eisenhower farm. offense --nt was an was that event? >> the eisenhowers entertained more heads of state and more dignitaries and had more state dinners than any previous administration. with thehat has to do change in transportation. position.ange in his he knew, he had met all these people, and mamie had in nato. when queen elizabeth and prince philip come to the united they, -- united states, eisenhower says, we reignited ourselves. there they are.
we really acquainted ourselves with old friends. they knew queen elizabeth when she was still a princess. they felt that way about many of the people they had met. --y were just read meeting re-meeting them again in a different place. >> it is mamie eisenhower large- scale elegant inter-tainting to the white house. -- entertaining to the white house. a lot of people think that is jacqueline kennedy. but it is really mamie eisenhower after several decades with world war ii and then the truman renovation of the white house where they were living elsewhere and could not entertain at the white house. it is mamie who brings back large-scale elegant and entertaining. , andere were expositions
there is first lady memorabilia. why was it significant that president after eisenhower could no longer keep gets -- gifts? >> i think they were afraid that it would look like bribery or some kind of internal political favoritism. that was made -- >> where do all those gifts go? go to the state department or the national archive. from the archive, they turn up at presidential libraries. but they are not owned by the president or the first lady. >> one statement that a president and first lady can -- not only who they can invite, but they do not invite. one person they did not invite
was joseph mccarthy. >> actually mrs. mccarthy was invited. she was invited to a reception, but she did not attend. >> what is the significance of that? >> i think she was making a political statement on her husband's we have, not across the door into the white house. >> some people watching do not know who joe mccarthy is. please.plays -- quickly >> [laughter] >> he was the senator to win after so-called communists and government positions. it was like a salem witchhunt, if you will. they thought communists -- they under every desk and chair.
all kinds of people who had some affiliation with the communist party or a communist party front or somebody who leans toward the communists in the 1930's and of0's -- he did a great deal harm to a number of people and their careers and their lives. the reason that mamie would not invite him to the white house with theshe disagreed methodology that he used and the ruining of people's reputations and careers. >> this question is connected. lauren on facebook right, i remember reading somewhere that she was a big fan of "i love lucy." any wayhelp lucy in when lucy was being investigated i the house un-american activities committee? >> absolutely.
-- lucy andi arnaz desi arnaz were terrified that their careers were over. birthday, and mamie , and othery, desi guests to the white house and she says that they can entertain them. they do a little bit of entertainment for ike's birthday. mamie makes a point of having sit next to her and i for the dinner portion of the evening. she is making a very public statement about who she invites and where they fit when they
arrive. brings a new sensibility to the running of the white house. we will return to the eisenhower library in abilene, kansas to learn more. >> as a young girl, mamie was diagnosed with a heart condition. she was asked to stay in bed every day. she met with her staff. she got up in the mornings, did her hair and makeup, were these bad -- bed-e jackets. mamie would meet with her secretary to plan white house of --at -- white house of bands events. schedule, we see that not
only did mamie have a diplomatic dinner, but the next morning she was cutting the ribbon at a church bazaar. she would meet with her social secretary. some of the things that they would discuss were of a personal nature. here she is shopping for christmas gifts for her grandchildren and she knows to buy a specific doll for her grandchild. she was very specific about her budget and also kept her figure so she would never go over budget. >> how many people lived with them in the white house? >> they sometimes had mamie's mother. the eisenhower grandchildren did not live there. they visited very often. spent huge amounts of time and the press loved them, loved to photograph them playing in the
front of the building or sometimes they would have photographs of them inside playing. but basically, it's ike and mamie and for long periods of time, mamie's mother. >> mamie said any day was a good day when her grandchildren were there. >> someone asked this earlier and made reference of the 1950's woman. it was documented that mamie visited the oval office four times. will you talk about that separation of the wife's role versus the husband's role that was a stereotype of the 1950's. >> very much a division of labor. the women would handle the food, the entertainment, the family. the president would handle the country, the politics.
>> we just had a roosevelt administration where -- >> that was such a departure and such an anomaly for the time that it didn't get institutionalized until much later and part of that was because ofamie's military background, too. she once made the comment that a wife never went ne her husband's command post, his point of operation. it simply wasn't done. and so again that separation of their spaces. >> and it was a busy eight years in the eisenhower white house for the president. and we have a list of just some of the big things that were happening during the eisenhower presidency to show you. and we are doing it while looking at video.
the launch of sputnik and the cold war burst onto the international scene, tension between the united states and russia. there was the red scare and we heard earlier about senator joe mccarthy and the role he played in the united states. the rosenberg espionage trial. the u2 spy plane shot down. rosa parks did her famous bus ride and montgomery, alabama, the arkansas desegregation case and the creation of the interstate highway system and nasa was established and our last two states came into statehood, alaska and hawaii. mamie eisenhower wasn't involved in any of this?
>> she did not discuss issues publicly. that was not her job as she saw it. privately, she was very opinionated and had very strong ideas on a number of social issues, but she simply was not an activist the way that we think of women speaking out today. in fact, she was probably the last presidential wife that didn't have a particular cause while she was in the white house. that was something that eleanor roosevelt had done, but best truman had not done and so mamie, her whole background would not have lent itself to her doing that. but she's the last first lady where that's the case. >> she launched lots of charity drives. she was the spokesperson for the
american heart association but can't say they were causes and projects the way it became institutionalized. >> very traditional. >> where jacqueline kennedy and after her, mrs. johnson, a first lady was considered to have a project. >> she wasn't considered a first lady if she didn't have a cause. >> mamie eisenhower sat down with barbara walters to give her views. >> you think presidents need their wives at home? >> i don't know. i don't think -- i think you have to -- mine has to be encouraged. i told ike every day how much i
thought -- how good i thought he was. your ego has to be fed. >> gary robinson wants to know what would mamie say was her greatest contribution to the role of first lady? >> i would say giving ike a comfortable home life where he could relax and get away from the pressing issues of the day. i think her greatest contribution was in institutionalizing the first lady as a campaigner. i think that is the role that has really carried on with later first ladies and in american political life. >> what would your answer be? >> i would agree that privately, it would be creating that home.
and when she said homemaker, she meant it in the truest sense, making a home that was comfortable and welcoming and gave ike a place to escape and for their friends and family to enjoy themselves and to be together. publicly, i think her contribution as a first lady was projecting someone who really was interested in any and everyone without consideration for their political, social and religious background. to say she was nonpolitical, it almost sounds like well, too good to be true, but i think basically, she was interested in people for whom they were and they realized that in her and responded to her. >> were there public opinion polls in politics at the time? >> there were public opinion
polls, but they really didn't ask those kinds of questions so you can't gauge it against today. >> one of the things she did to preserve eisenhower's sense of peace, we hear it all the time. there was something before shangri-la. how did it become an official presidential retreat? >> the hoofers had set up a camp on a river in virginia. but that had sort of been unused because it was a rocky and hilly kind of terrain that franklin roosevelt couldn't use. so roosevelt had set up presidential retreat called the retreat and then he renamed it
camp david. >> did mamie invite any past or future first ladies to the white house? were they friends with the reagans? i know they traveled to california. >> they knew nancey davis reagan's parents and socialized with them in california. and nancy reagan did meet them in the collection at the eisenhower presidential library, there is a notice of nancy and ronald reagan's marriage, it's an announcement, not an invitation. they really knew each more,
different generationally, because ike and mamie were better friends with her parents. but as for first ladies, yes. maimey was friends with best truman, although best truman didn't come to the white house afterwards. certainly, mrs. kennedy, mrs. johnson would have come to the white house as senate wives -- when their husbands were in congress because they would have been invited to those functions. >> talking about family life and how mamie's job was to preserve and encourage it. we will return to their farm in gettysburg and learn more about family life. >> alice evans is a park ranger and mamie expert here at the eisenhower house. how much square feet does this
property have? >> inside, 14,000. >> what room are we in now? >> the porch. one of the most important rooms in the home. this is where they lived and mamie said we lived on the porch. this room was really the private life of the eisenhowers and the family center of the home. >> and set up with couches and chairs and over here a tv. >> sign of the 1950's. the television. they were our first presidential couple to really watch television in the white house. >> what would be a typical evening? >> the eisenhowers would have their dinners on tv trace and watching walter cronkite on "the evening news" or watching "i love lucy." >> and where would the president sit? >> in that chair facing the
television. >> that's his actual chair? >> that is the actual chair he sat in. >> and there is early version of the remote. >> that was the president's territory. mamie used to joke that he would flip through all three channels. >> where would mamie sit? >> off to the left. >> would they talk? >> the eisenhowers were great. that was a still that mamie had. she loved people and she loved socializing. >> when ike was president and after the presidency, what kind of guests would come and be here on the porch with them? >> all guests came to the porch, be it their grandchildren coming in to see grandma and grandpa and dignitaries came to this room. >> who were some?
>> lots of big wigs. winston churchill. and khrushchev and his visit in 1959 to the united states. and khrushchev sat here and had a little fall on the cold war here. >> moving on down, seems to be a little breakfast room here, is that what this is? >> this would be sort of an area where the couple would play cards and the ladies would play here and the gentlemen would play in the other end of the room. i like this area because it's really mamie in this part of the room. the president liked to paint here on the porch. and spent so much time apart in their married life, especially in their retirement years, if he was painting, she would be playing cards, reading a book, crosswords puzzles. she liked to be with him. >> alice, in this little space
here with the wicker chairs, i counted 12 ash trays and four lighters. >> this is the 1950's and 1960's. they both smoked. he smoked four packs of cigarettes per day. mamie smoked longer. >> behind us, it's covered up now, but what is behind these screens and drapes? >> they had a beautiful view of their cattle field and portion of the gettysburg national military park. >> what kind of security did they have? >> secret service during the eight years and after kennedy's assassination and had secret service until 1979 for mamie. >> mamie eisenhower, tv and secret service. >> she came up with unique tasks. she loved soap operas and her favorite was "as the world
turns." sometimes she had to miss it. guess who is watching it, a secret service man taking notes. >> he would have to present it to her? >> oh, yes. >> after ike's death in 1969, she stayed here, what sort of visitors did she have on her own? >> she tried entertaining. friends and family were always welcome. she was very lonely after the president died, so she welcomed friends and family. >> did she have live-in help? >> 3 staff. series of maids that assisted her and soth money. a sergeant and his wife came and they were close. >> and she is still living? >> yes. she keeps in close contact.
>> we have one more stop on our tour and we will be upstairs. >> we were wondering about the secret service duty to transcribe the soap operas. mamie eisenhower was popular, but she was shielded from the press and gave only one news conference in 1953 and was asked to write a regular column and declined. but she always made it onto the best dressed list. >> every year she was in the white house. >> we will show some of mamie's style. get ready. we are going to return to the eisenhower library to look at mamie's style. >> i'm surrounded by some of the items. she often worked with one of her favorite designers.
this is the outfit she wore at the opening of the st. lawrence seaway. another custom designed dress is this. a printed cotton fabric with many of the houses that the eisenhowers lived in and includes the five-star symbol of general eisenhower. these are a few examples of her day dresses. fond of the color pink and wore it in many different styles. many of the dresses that you see are sleeveless. she said her arms were ike's favorite feature. this is a handmade dress that shows her attention to budget. it has a long hem that she would raise and lower so the hem line was always in fashion. jackie kennedy is known for the little black dress and here are two examples of mamie's favorite black dresses. she said she would never dress like an old lady.
this shows her love of bright colors and wild fabrics. mamie loved hats. this is a small sampling of some of them we have in the collection and one of her favorite designers is victor. and she loved her shoes. many of the shoes we have say made expressly for mamie eisenhower. this dress shows her love of fashion. she was about 30 years old. too old to be considered a flapper but stylish. let's look at some of the exhibits that focus on her style. she was known for her special bangs and called the mamie look and you could purchase fake bangs to clip into your hair. mamie would go to the salons to
get her hair done and elizabeth arden had a hair stylist create her drawings. >> you are on. this series of calls, influence and image, how much did she influence american women's looks? >> she was extremely popular. she set off a rage for pink, set off a rage for bangs and everybody wanted to look like mamie. it seems strange to us post jacqueline kennedy but she had the best taste in dresses. and everybody tried to copy her look. the interesting thing about the bangs, she first started wearing bangs in the 1920's, after the death of their son which
resulted in the eisenhowers growing somewhat apart. and when they were sent to panama, his commanding officer's wife sort of took her under her wing and said you have to do something to rescue your marriage and one of the things she decided to do is take a renewed interest in her personal appearances and that's when she had her bangs done and that was a symbol to both of them to the approach in the marriage. later, when she is in paris, she started frequenting the elizabeth arden salon in paris. and when she came to new york, she frequented the new york salon of elizabeth arden.
and after the first inauguration, elizabeth arden wrote to her and said now that you are in the public eye i noticed that when you first came back, your hair looked absolutely beautiful but hasn't been quite the same since. so i asked our stylist to render the structural drawings, which you saw in that film clip, which are now at the eisenhower library of the steps that they are taking to achieve. and therefore, in your travels across the country and around the world, you can take these structural drawings with you and go into any elizabeth arden salon and have your hair turn out perfectly. >> and with her sleeveless gown. we have a list of the things
viewed the kennedys and how mamie viewed jackie and the differences between them. >> i would say that jackie and mamie got off to a very rocky start and that was never righted. part of it is the difference in age, but beginning with a misunderstanding and it was just very rocky when mamie took jackie through the white house on her tour before the inauguration and mrs. kennedy was telling mamie already the plan she had for renovations and that didn't really set very well with mamie. and it went on from there. >> but i have to say that later when they were trying to raise
funds for what's now the kennedy center, the eisenhower administration had already been planning for a cultural center in washington, d.c., and when the kennedys were continuing the plan for that, ike and mamie as retired first couple did a lot of public speaking and appearances on television to promote the cultural center. >> talk about the fact that the eisenhowers were smokers and in 1965, he suffered a heart attack and spent 19 days in walter reed hospital. was he able to carry on his duties? >> nixon -- they wanted things to carry on as normally as possible. you are talking about it? nixon continued to hold cabinet
meetings and wanted the country to see that everything was moving along as it should be because when the first announcement came of eisenhower's heart attack, the stock market plummeted and to show people they were on an even keel, nixon stepped in. >> despite this, eisenhower made the decision to seek re-election and we have a very brief clip in the 1956 campaign ad looking again how mamie appealed to women during the 1956 election. >> so much of your future rests with the women of our country. they are the homemakers, the whole family unit revolves around them. everything that affects the family's wealth affects them first and everything in the family's life benefits from their influence. they do the buying and seeing
that everyone is well clothed and well fed. they are the custodian of its values and aspirations for the future and there lies the training of our young people for whom they pass the rich heritage of our nation. its love for peace and justice and its passion for freedom. the women of our country swept dwight d. eisenhower into office four years ago and they will probably decide the election this time and they like ike. here's someone else they like, too. ike's beloved mamie whose smile and modesty and easy natural charm make her the ideal first lady. let's keep our first lady in the white house for four more years. november 6, vote for dwight d. eisenhower. >> and the american public did. they served out the next four
years and 1960, the election brought john kennedy into the house. the eisenhowers went back to private life back to gettysburg. we are going back right now. >> and for 19 years mamie eisenhower lived in this house and nearly all of her life had this picture on every dresser in every house. what is that? >> ike's senior picture from west point and gave her that photograph while they were dating and says to the dearest and sweetest girl in the entire world. >> a pink phone and lots of pink things. now to an explosion of pink, the master bedroom. >> i think the decore in this room is telling of their lives together. every bedroom they had painted
the walls green and decorated pink. i think this is real love of a five-star general. >> the original bedspread and this is what they shared until 1969 when ike died. the breakfast set on the bed. >> mamie spent most mornings in bed. she suffered from rheumatic fever. she would have breakfast in bed. a special breakfast set and have her breakfast here and would answer letters, plan her agenda for the day and meet with staff members or the cook to plan the day. >> 1979, she had a stroke right there. >> she had the stroke that would end her life. they found her and taken to walter reed where she passed away in november. had the stroke in september. >> the public, will they see this?
>> see every room and much more. open from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. >> just off the edge of the civil war battlefield. >> and our thanks to the staff of the gettysburg and also to the eisenhower library in kansas. there is a book that we have. we have worked with the white house historical association to make available this special edition of the very popular first ladies book and available, go to c-span's website and see a tab for first ladies and then a tab for shop, and selling it to you at cost so if you would like this series and learn more about the first ladies, it's available
to you. each week we have a special featured item and this week's is from the american heart association. surprising as a big smoker as volunteer for the year after ike's heart attack. we have a couple minutes left. her final years and her legacy, how do we wrap this up? >> i think perhaps one of the most telling, she didn't think about having a legacy. she thought about what she had done as the first lady, as an important job. her contribution to american life and probably her legacy would be what she said to barbara walters in that one interview, that when asked how do you want to be remembered, and she said, just as a good
friend. >> and i think that's how she felt about the american people that she was a good friend. >> and the american people returned that? >> absolutely. >> and it is a generational change. we will be moving into the youngest couple moving into the white house with the kennedys and we look forward to learning about how the country continues to change. that's it for our mamie eisenhower program. our special guests, we thank them for your work. your book is available. the general's first lady. if folks would like to learn more. thank you so much for your time. great to have you in the audience. ♪ ap