tv First Ladies Influence Image CSPAN December 26, 2013 9:00pm-10:31pm EST
ladies and the life of may me eisenhower. then a discussion on the increased number of women in the prison system. later, cnn >> today it is our pleasure to entertain for the first time our first lady at her belated birthday party. ♪ >> ♪ many happy returns >> ♪ to mamie with music ♪ >> a birthday tribute to mamie eisenhower just a few weeks
after her husband announced his bid for reelection. tonight, the life and times of mamie eisenhower. good evening and welcome. tonight is mamie eisenhower's turn. here to tell us about her life are two people who spent a lifetime with the first lady. we have a historian and author of a biography. we also welcome back edith. she has been one of our guiding forces on first ladies. >> nice to be back. >> what should we take away watching that video about her
popularity, about the use of television? >> the film clip you show from the birthday celebration, this was shown in an election year, and immediately the democrats want equal time, because this is in their view a campaign ad. william haley, president of cbs, and a close friend of the eisenhowers says, it's not equal time because this is nonpolitical entertainment with the first lady. obviously, her birthday is in november. we are just a few days away from it right now. obviously there was some political background to this,
but if you watch the show at the time, what you saw was a lot of people talking about her. with real affection. wanting to re-emphasize how popular she was at the time. >> what should we know about television and the presidency in the 1950's? >> the eisenhower campaign was the first televised campaign. there are a range of techniques brought to the fore for that campaign. there were these wonderfully rehearsed man in the street interviews that were supposed to be spontaneous but were quite rehearsed. that was quite a new feature.
then you have the bouncing balls and bouncing elephants and so forth. ike for president and everybody likes ike. there were a range of techniques. part of the excuse was she so epitomized the 50s, particularly for american women. if she hadn't been there someone would have to invent her. >> we have 90 minutes to learn about mamie eisenhower. we have live cameras in gettysburg, pennsylvania. that farm is about 90 miles away from washington, dc, and the eisenhower spot this in the --
bought this in the 1950's and spent their time there. you will learn about her obsession with pink. you can see she created this retreat away from public life. we will go back in time and learn about her biography, and to do that, let's go back to that special from 1956 where they talk about her biography as well. >> i hope that you, the members of our organization, and our extinguished guest will enjoy this salute to our first lady. ♪
>> how do you do? thank you for inviting me. birthdays almost seems synonymous with memories, like albums, so we brought this special album for you. it's filled with fond remembrances, and here is a picture of the three sisters circa 1906. here is the debutante visiting about 1950, and your wedding dress and the portrait in your inaugural gown when you became our first lady. >> ♪ take one fresh and tender kiss ♪ add one stolen night of bliss ♪
one girl, one boy, some greed, some joy ♪ memories are made of this ♪ >> a little bit of a capsule view. tell us a little more. she was the end of a generation, the last first lady born in the 19th century. >> she was our our last first lady to be born in the 19th century. her family lived there until she was about eight years old. then they moved to colorado, and that's where she grew up. one of the photographs shows her in san antonio. the family would winter there because of one of her sister's health problems.
she was almost an invalid, so they would winter. while they were in san antonio they went with some friends, and that is where she was first introduced to ike. >> second lieutenant at the time. >> second lieutenant. very serious. she said he was not interested in any type of girl or girlfriend. he was very into duty and his job in the military, and she kind of swept him off his feet. >> or vice versa. and they married a short time after they met.
she was a debutante, and her father warned her off military life. >> he warned her off. mamie's parents really liked ike. they thought he was a wonderful young man, and her father even told her when he was coming around to visit that she should quit being so flighty and going off with other young men to parties, that she should pay attention to ike, but when they got married he told mamie they could not expect any money from him. they would have to live on ike's military pay. her response was, i didn't care about that. i just wanted that man. >> it was probably a surprise to go from the debutante life to a tiny military apartment.
>> from living a comfortable life with plenty of money, i think it was a shock for her, but she learned from her father about how to save money, so while i think it was difficult in the early days of their marriage, she always manage to live on ike's salary, and not only that, but in a role reversal, mamie is the one who handled the family finances. later she said that is the secret to a good marriage, that the husband should turn the check over to his wife, that if he started purchasing things and opening accounts everything would go to hell in a handbag. >> it's interesting because we talk of her as the epitome of
the media. there is this stereotype of the 1950's woman she seems to embody. she handled finances. he was domestic. he cooked the meals. >> she took a domestic science class when they became engaged. they moved their marriage date up to july the first rather than in november after she turned 20, her domestic science classes were cut short. i'm not sure she was that serious anyway. he really did the cooking. >> i want to invite you to be participants in our program. we have three ways you can be involved. our phone numbers will be on the screen. if you live out west, mountain
pacific and further west, 202- 585-3881. or you can post on our facebook age where there are comments going on. how soon are they married is their first child born? >> i think it is three years. >> he gets an unusual nickname. when i see it spelled i want to pronounce it "ikey" because it sounds better than icky. he was the apple of their eye, and everyone on the coast. he was like the little mascot everyone took to.
he died at the age of three of scarlet fever, and it happened so quickly. in the time period, couples could almost expect to have one child die of a childhood disease, because the medical care -- there were not as you could do about it. they were devastated. >> many of the president's and first ladies lost a child. >> yes. it's a recurring theme. all the way from the beginning. >> it is never easy. >> it's always over a horror story. in an era before modern drugs you have it happening frequently.
>> their son john is born, and one thing he said is his parents never made him feel he was a replacement for the child they lost, that he was his own person, and i think that was the way the eisenhowers as a couple were. way the eisenhowers as a couple they took people as they were, but that did not mean they totally forgot their first child. they just made another place for another child in their lives. mamie was a little overprotective. >> their early years was one of ike being gone a lot. but that did not mean they how often were they together?
>> there was one year they moved three times. and sometimes when he was posted for a short time, mamie might go back to denver to be with her family, and there was a time when ike was on a convoy, which was a military exercise to take military trucks and other transport across the country to test the roads, the bridges, and really, they found out how bad america's road system was. during that time she was with her parents because she couldn't live on the post, so they were back-and-forth. that's something every military wife faced at one point or another.
you might live a place a short you might live in a place a short time. you can expect multiple moves and separation. >> they were always entertainers. they did a lot of entertaining, and many times the eisenhower home was called club eisenhower because of their entertaining of the troops and military personnel, and going back to how many moves they made over the years, i think that's why they treasured their years in the white house, and then purchasing the farm in gettysburg. that was there permanent home. >> i have a photograph to show of mamie in a jeep. at what point did they become
popularly known? >> i would say in the 1930's. certainly. even when they were first married they became a family -- a couple that invited other military families into their home. they would have potlucks, play cards. they had a rented piano mamie played and sang. this photograph was taken in 1944 not long after d-day. this is at virginia. 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 1936. the two women are also friends drive it. of hers, longtime military wives. they had the same kind of moving experiences, long separations from their husbands. >> dwight eisenhower was tasked with leading in europe. where was she during the war? of hers, longtime military >> she wanted to be in washington, hoping there would be times ike could come back home. which he did a couple of times. their son john was at west point. so any opportunities she wanted to be close at hand.
it was only later in the war she went to stay with his sister. >> let's take our first phone call. hi, mark, you are on the air. >> i am wondering if any of them could tell me what life was like in the philippines or panama. i also cannot wait until next week when you talk about jackie kennedy. >> thank you. life in the philippines. >> the philippines and panama, both were extremely uncomfortable for her. particularly in panama it was primitive. the philippines, where they lived was much more comfortable. they had a nice apartment.
it was air-conditioned. she had a difficult time in terms of the environment. she did not do well in the heat. there were times when she suffered some health problems. >> there were a number of generals elected to the white house. how does the world prepare the first couple for life in the white house? >> with ike there were all kinds of executive and administrative decisions he was used to making, but for mamie, the entertaining of heads of state while he was commander of nato, according to her own testimony was something that really prepared her for
entertaining at the white house. she knew how to do it. she was confident about doing it. she actually loved that part of the role. >> hi, jeffrey, you are on. >> my question was about how politically involved she was before she was in the white house. the general was not political before he was elected president. i was wondering if mamie was more difficult than her husband. >> she once said she and ike were probably two people who knew less about politics than anyone else. mamie did make almonds about -- comments about politics in the interest of the party, but that was with her father and letters back and forth, and her father
was a strong republican, so mamie would sometimes commiserate in the letter that roosevelt did something her father didn't approve of, but mamie was not political in the least. >> we have questions from facebook and twitter. we knew we were going to get them. "did ike have an affair -- who was she? >> she was often referred to as eisenhower's driver, but there were several people who drove him around. her job was to keep his appointment calendar to make sure the right people got in and out and to meetings. she was engaged to an american
officer who was tragically killed in the fighting in north africa, and she stayed on at the headquarters, and rumors began that they were having an affair. the research i did, and other people are beginning to look at the letter truman had that he was going to ask for a divorce. i think there are a number of historians that have debunked that. i do not believe there was an affair. it's hard to imagine that eisenhower, the allied commander of the european theater, is acting like a schoolboy puppy love following kay around, which is what she alleges. did mamie know?
there was nothing to know except the rumors were extremely hurtful to her. it was the kind of thing that went on and on especially after the book and made-for-tv movie, and that was very hurtful for mamie. >> i haven't done that kind of research in any kind of primary sources. i have heard the rumors. i know the family denies it, but it would be interested to hear from somebody who knows the primary sources. >> it's not just the family. when the book came out -- several people who were still alive and had been at the eisenhower headquarters, including one of somersby's roommate said this never happened.
the person who is saying this happened, they did not recognize. they couldn't explain why she would have decided to stay. >> jane in texas. >> a lot of military wives are watching tonight. thank you so much for the show. my question, were mrs. eisenhower and mrs. nixon friendly? did they play bridge together? their children were different ages? how did that work out? >> they were friendly. and i think the friendship continued. there was always a friendly relationship. the story goes that mamie liked pat immediately. she said, you are the cutest little thing. i think it took off from there, and the friendship continued.
>> bernard in georgia. >> hello. >> good evening. >> how are you doing this evening? >> we are fine. did they play bridge together? what's your question for us? >> i understand during the inaugural ball she wore a pink gown, and that color was known as mamie pink. do you know about that? does that color still exist? mamie pink? >> you asked the right question. our guest was responsible for creating the popular first ladies' gowns exhibit. what about her gown? >> it is mamie pink. it was pastel. she decided she wanted it to have a little extra flair.
she had a designer put 2000 pink rhinestones on the gown so it would sparkle. mamie pink was a color that was very popular in the 1950s as part of a wardrobe but also household. charcoal gray and pink was also a big color combination in the 50's. she had a number of formal gowns that were charcoal gray and pink. i don't know whether that particular shade existed, but it was popular in the 50's. >> dwight eisenhower's career continued. here is a look at some of the important positions he held before the white house. as an allied commander during world war ii, after the war he
served as the army chief of staff for the pentagon. he left the military and went to columbia university in new york, where he served as university president. it was around this time in the late 1940's and early 1950's, when they began to consider their retreat in gettysburg, pennsylvania. we are going to take you there, but first we are going to hear from mamie many years later about the farm and how important it was to the eisenhowers. >> i like having you on the porch with me where ike and i spent so many hours. the cattle still appear on the field.
>> on your screen is the formal living room at the eisenhower farm in gettysburg, pennsylvania. joining us is a park ranger. alice evans, how is it they came to gettysburg and why this property? >> gettysburg was a natural choice. they actually lived here before during the first world war. he was a civil war buff from childhood. that told him here. he was very interested in farming. he wanted to find a farm that would keep him busy in retirement. >> this was a working farm? >> yes, it was. charlotte after they purchased the farm he was sent overseas to work with nato.
the house begins renovations in 1953. it was not inhabitable until 1955. >> how many days did they stay at the farm? a full year. after the presidency. >> this is the only home they ever owned. this was their primary residence. >> after the jfk inauguration, what happened? >> they got in the car and drove up in a turbo snowstorm. they get to the front gate and president eisenhower did the driving. >> we have been hearing about the color pink.
there is a very pink room. >> this shows mamie's love of color. typical of mamie. this is typical of the sentimentality. she loved having her friends and family together. >> how original is everything in here? >> we have very few reproductions. >> you have the place settings. you see mamie on the right. and you have dick and mrs. nixon. >> yes. especially after it was apparent their families would be united in marriage. and then the engagement announcement. they were close to the nixons. >> how much of the decorating did mamie do?
>> this is her taste. she had a decorator. she was here to consult. >> about the conversation in washington. did mamie eisenhower ever meet kay summersby? >> mamie was not affected by the meeting. she was aware of the rumors. she met her and went on with her life. >> we will be back to gettysburg later. >> it was around that time the eisenhowers began to be drafted i both local parties. they were not partisan.
tell us the story of how the republicans were successful. >> what you find is there is a grassroots movement, citizens for eisenhower. groups of people all over the country pushing for eisenhower to run for president and to run as a republican. when they were in europe, there were people flying to see ike. and he is -- he doesn't say what he will will not do because of his position and one of the
stories mamie tells his they are in france before sending process packages and the open this one package and they're all of these hats and ties and pins. while ike is in the library, mamie gets this box of paraphernalia. he took one look and his face went red. then he burst out laughing. >> he was appointed to the nato position. eisenhower was thought to be a democrat. what was the tension between the trumans and the eisenhowers? >> i don't know much about that. >> obviously, there has been a great deal said and written
about how badly truman and eisenhower came to dislike each other and how cold they were. and, mamie and mrs. truman were good friends. they went to spanish classes. there is a photograph of bess showing mamie around the white house and they look like two girlfriends. giggling in a corner. irregardless of what somebody's political affiliation is, she could get along with them. that was the case. if their husbands were having
whistlestop across the country. they would say, "we want mamie." there was a lot of clapping. she would come out on the rear of the train. he would say, would you like to meet my mamie? she was a tremendous hit. she would give local interviews and turned out to be quite an asset. >> we were at the eisenhower presidential library in kansas. it is in the hometown of eisenhower. you can see pictures of it on the screen right now.
they showed us campaign memorabilia that they have in the collection that is related to mamie eisenhower. >> the campaign is significant because women outnumbered men in the electorate. eisenhower. you can see pictures of it on the screen right now. the campaign catered to this new demographic with fashion accessories, including the official campaign hats. it was designed by one of mamie's favorite hat designers. all kinds of rhinestones and jewelries. including earrings and i like ike buttons. notice that mamie's name comes first in the mamie charm bracelet. "we want mamie" and "i like mamie" buttons. no lady is complete without a corsage. all these accessories would be worn with this dress, often worn at campaign rallies and conventions. let's go to a museum to see more campaign memorabilia. we have a number of drawers filled with campaign memorabilia, including these wonderful gloves, mamie on campaign buttons and stockings. this leads to eisenhower winning the 1952 election. she becomes first lady and wears the suit to the inauguration. campaign buttons and stockings. it was designed by carnegie. she wears a pillbox hat by her favorite designer. >> this is your area of specialty. >> we have a wonderful collection of ike memorabilia. >> has there been an election since? >> not to that extent. the republican party went wild
with putting out materials promoting the campaign and mamie herself. i think that this resonated with people because, as the curator was saying, this is the first time that the women's vote had caught up with men voting. they had gotten the vote in 1920, but participation has lagged behind until 1952. ivy baker priest, the head of the women's division of the republican party had come with three areas that would appeal to women in the campaign. they emphasized bringing the boys home from korea. that was imaged in bringing your husband, son, and relative home. ike was the great military hero
that was going to do that. there was also the mess in washington. the scandals inside the truman administration. this was imaged, in the sense that any housewife could clean up a mess in her home. there are all kinds of cleaning pails and scrub brushes. there are brooms and lapel pins in the shape of brooms. they were put out by the eisenhower campaign. the third thing was the economy. that was imaged as every woman having to stay within her budget and why shouldn't the government do the same? they put out enormous grocery bags that said, ike and dick.
that was supposed to indicate that any woman could balance her home budget and therefore the government should do the same. the grocery bags were going to be extra large. this was how much more your budget was going to go if you elected ike and dick. >> 53% of american homes had television and they were growing and growing. there was also the rise of public relations professions in the united states. >> yes. there were a lot of advertising men who migrated into the campaign. it imaged ike and mamie as a commodity that can be sold to the consumer.
>> on the other side, stevenson was divorced. >> yes. >> he was also a unitarian, which many think as something like an atheist. >> they were in midst as -- they were imaged as god- fearing man. >> it was a war hero against a cerebral candidate. >> exactly. also with mamie, even though you had these image makers, she is someone who the image makers are not making her who she is. she is being herself. >> that is what i said earlier. if she had not come along and done what she did, she would've had to have been invented. >> exactly. she is so natural in that situation. >> how much influence did mamie
have on ike? do we know? >> we do not know for sure. i have wondered. i do not think there is any discussion that they made public about how they decided or he decided. i'm not sure if her father, being a republican, and ike being on good terms had any influence. i just don't know. it has more to do with who would have been running for president in the republican slot if not eisenhower. eisenhower agreed to run because he looked at the other candidates and could not see them, especially if they're going to be isolationist in the world, post-world war ii -- it
was almost as if he said, if it has to be me, i can handle it better than these people can. >> david, go ahead with your question. >> hi. >> we're listening. >> i am curious about what eisenhower's stance or position was on the civil rights issues of the 1950s. >> thank you so much. we will talk about that more later. but briefly -- >> eisenhower is being recognized by historians for his contributions in the civil rights era, not only for what happened with little rock and sending troops in.
eisenhower integrated washington, d.c. >> in what way? >> every way. washington had been a segregated city. going back to wilson. eisenhower integrated the city. >> how do you integrate the city in washington? >> they were inviting blacks to attend white house functions. i don't know how they dismantled the segregation in the -- of the government positions. that was also something that went on during the eisenhower administration. a desegregation of the workforce. >> that is notable. there were african-americans
wearing the "ike" dresses. >> until recently, he never got the credit for the very strong stand that he took in little rock, with sending the federal troops. that was a shocking thing. by the time you get to the 1960s, everybody knows about johnson. in the 1950s, this was a shocking move. >> the incredible entertainers that the couple -- both military, and through the white house. one of the things that changed was the rise of air travel and post-war diplomacy.
we will return to gettysburg and the farm. let's look at how the eisenhowers entertained there. much of it translated to the time in the white house. >> alice evans, what are we seeing? >> we are seeing mamie and her iconic inaugural gown. this is a copy of the white house portrait. >> below that is a piano. >> she was a big piano player. you see the photographs and friends. family members. >> we are in the formal living room. it is a rather large room. how much entertaining was done? >> not much. you would think they would want to use it. president eisenhower was not a fan of this room and the decor.
it shows mamie as first lady. her understanding of etiquette and rules and regulations. >> how did they furnish this room? >> with gifts given to them throughout the years by friends. there are five objects they purchase for themselves. >> how were they able to keep their gifts? >> president eisenhower was the last president who is allowed to keep all of his gifts. >> we are looking at a lot of tchotchkes. >> mamie let it slip that she likes porcelain. >> we are looking at a portrait of mamie eisenhower. >> that portrait was done before she was first lady. it was painted in 1948, while ike was still at columbia university.
this captures her spirit and her vitality and femininity. >> before we leave this room, the table in front of the couch. is the upholstery on the couch original? >> yes. the coffee table is one the most important pieces in the home. this was a gift from the president of south korea and it came near the anniversary of the cease-fire at the end of the war. it is a gift to mamie. it is from the wife of the president of south korea. ike may have found a solution, but mamie got a table.
this piece was in the white house at one point and it was installed while franklin pierce was our president. >> how did it end up in the house? >> this goes back to julia grant. she was decorating the white house and marble had fallen out of fashion. she had the marble fireplace removed and they were auctioned off and sold into private hands. the white house staff was able to track down this piece and presented it to the eisenhowers. lincoln was important to president eisenhower. >> how would the eisenhowers used this room? when was it use? >> it was used during christmas. they with the christmas tree in front of the fireplace and mamie would be at the piano, playing christmas carols.
>> we will see the porch the next time we come back to gettysburg. >> thanks to our colleague, peter slen. the entertaining at the white house, the queen of england. how important was that? >> the eisenhowers entertained more foreign dignitaries and more state dinners then any previous administration. part of that has to do with the change in transportation. >> and his position of leadership in europe. >> yes. he had met all these people. and mamie had, in nato.
so, when queen elizabeth and thought come to the united states, eisenhower says that we have just reacquainted ourselves with old friends. they knew queen elizabeth when she was princess. they felt that so many people had met, they were just re- meeting and entertaining in a different place. >> that is mamie eisenhower, who returns large-scale and elegance entertainment to the white house. most people think of jackie kennedy as the person who did that. it is her entertaining in the white house. with the depression and world war ii ii and the truman renovation of the white house
meant that they could not entertain in the white house. it is mamie who brings back entertaining to the white house. >> she is a curator of exhibitions. how significant of a decision was it? >> i think they were afraid that it would look like bribery or some kind of, you know, prompting of return for political favor for the gift. that was made illegal. >> presidents still get lots of gifts. >> they usually go to the state department or the national archives. through the archives, they often turn up at presidential libraries. they are not owned by the
president or first lady. >> one statement that the president and first lady can make is by who they did not invite. one person they did not invite was joe mccarthy. >> actually, mrs. mccarthy was invited to tea and receptions. she did not attend. >> what is a significance of that? >> she was making a political statement on her husband's behalf to not cross the door into the white house. >> some people do not know who joe mccarthy is. a quick snapshot of who he is. >> he was -- he was the senator that went after so-called communists in government positions.
it was a salem witch-hunt. they saw communists under every desk. he went after all kinds of people. people who were supposed to have had some kind of affiliation with the communist party or a communist party front. he went after all kinds of people that were supposed to have had some affiliation with the communist party or a communist party front or someone who leaned through the communists in the 1930's and 1940's and did a great deal of harm to a great number of people's careers and personal lives. and the reason that mamie would not invite him to the house entertainment is that she disagreed with the methodology that he used and the ruining of people's reputations and careers. >> this question is connected. she was a big fan of "i love lucy."
did she try to help lucy in any way when she was being investigated? >> yes. lucy had been brought before the committee and of course she and desi arnaz are terrified that their careers and it's ike's birthday. it's ike's birthday and mamie invites lucy, desi and vivian vance and william fawley to the white house and she says to entertain. they do a bit of entertaining for ike's birthday but then mamie makes a point of having lucy and desi sit with her and ike for the dinner portion of
the evening. she's not saying anything about it, but just making a very public statement by who she invites and where they sit and how they're treated when they arrive. >> she brings a sensibility to the running of the white house. we are going to return to the eisenhower library in kansas. >> as a young girl, she was diagnosed with a heart condition. in later years, she was under doctor's orders to stay in bed three days a week. she stayed every day in bed until noon. she would still meet with her staff. she would get up in the morning, do her hair and put on her makeup and lay back down in bed. we have many notes from those meetings. while wearing the bed jackets we saw, mamie would meet with her secretary to plan the day's events.
she ran the white house with military precision. her schedules were blocked out in five-minute increments. we have schedules for every year that she was first lady. for example, on this schedule, we see that not only did she have a diplomatic dinner, but next morning was to plan ribbon at the church bazaar. handwritten notes when she would meet with her personal secretary. some of the things that mamie would discuss with her social secretary were of a personal nature. for instance here, she is shopping for christmas gifts for the grandchildren and wants to buy this doll for her granddaughter susan. she kept her figures so she wouldn't go overbudget even shopping for family presents. >> how many people lived with them in the white house? >> they sometimes had mamie's mother, elivera.
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 to the stereotypical 1950's woman. it was documented that mamie visited the oval office four times during ike's presidency. 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 -- >> but 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 of mamie's military background, too. she once made the comment that a wife never went near her husband's command post, his point of operation. it just 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. russia launches 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 that he played in the united states during the red scare. the rosenberg espionage trial. the u2 spy plane shot down. rosa parks did her famous bus ride in montgomery, alabama, the arkansas desegregation case and the creation of the interstate highway system. nasa was established, and our last two states came into
statehood, alaska and hawaii. mamie eisenhower wasn't involved in any of this? she was not an issues person at all. >> 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 bess 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 you can't say they were causes and projects the way it became institutionalized. >> they were totally unpoliticized. very traditional. >> where jacqueline kennedy and after her, mrs. johnson, a first lady was considered to have a project. >> she wasn't considered a serious first lady if she didn't have a cause. >> 19 years after she left the white house, 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 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 anyone and everyone without consideration for their political, social, 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 who 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 was the creation of camp david named after their grandson. we hear it all the time. there was something before called shangri-la. how did it become an official presidential retreat? >> the hoovers 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 this presidential retreat called shangri-la, and then ike 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 nancy davis reagan's parents and socialized with them in california. and nancy reagan did meet them, and in the collection at the eisenhower presidential library, there is a notice of nancy and
ronald reagan's marriage, but 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. mamie was friends with bess truman, although bess truman didn't come to the white house afterwards. with edith wilson and certainly all of the -- 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. >> we are 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 with the national park service, a park ranger and mamie expert here at the eisenhower house. how much square feet does this property have inside? >> inside, about 14,000. >> what room are we in now? >> we are in 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 here and the family center of the home. >> and it was set up with couches and chairs and over here a tv. >> sign of the family of the 1950's. the television. they were our first presidential couple to really watch television together in the white house. >> what would be a typical evening on the porch? >> the eisenhowers would have their dinners on tv trays and watching walter cronkite on "the
evening news" or watching "i love lucy." ike liked westerns like "bonanza" or "gunsmoke." >> 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 all the time through all three channels. >> where would mamie sit? >> mamie would sit across from him. >> off to the left. >> yes. >> would they talk? >> the eisenhowers were great. that was a skill 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 of those dignitaries? >> lots of big wigs from that time period. winston churchill. nikita 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 at the other end of the room or in ike's den. 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 they 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, doing crosswords puzzles. she liked to be in the same room with him. >> alice, in this little space here with the wicker chairs, i counted 12 ash trays and four lighters. >> yes, this is the 1950's and 1960's. both the president and first lady smoked. ike gave up cold turkey after the war, which is amazing because he smoked four packs of cigarettes a 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, they had secret service until both of their
passings, 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 was watching it? a secret service man taking notes for her. >> he would have to present it to her? >> oh, yes, so she wouldn't miss any of those important plot twists. >> 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. mamie was very lonely after the president died, so she welcomed friends and family. >> did she have live-in help? >> yes, there were three staff members who lived in the house. mamie had a series of maids that assisted her and soth money.
and his wife, dolores, came and they were close. >> and dolores 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 during the eisenhower administration. 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 to talk about this.
>> we are going to return to the eisenhower library to look at mamie's style. >> i'm surrounded by some of the items that kept mamie on the ten best dressed list every year she was first lady. she often worked with one of her favorite designers. this is the outfit she wore at the opening of the st. lawrence seaway where she met prince philip. 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. she was very 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, so she liked to show them off. this is a hand made 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 little black dresses. mamie said she would never dress like an old lady. this shows her love of bright colors and wild fabrics. like any high-fashion lady of the day, mamie loved hats. this is a small sampling of some of them we have in the collection and one of her favorite designers is sally victor. and she loved her shoes. many of the shoes we have say made expressly for mamie eisenhower. mamie's love of fashion did not begin in the white house. this dress shows her love of fashion. she was about 30 years old. too old to be considered a flapper but still very 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 at all of the drug stores during the 1950's. mamie would go to the salons to get her hair done and elizabeth arden had a hair stylist create her drawings so mamie could take them with her so if she had to go to another stylist, her hair was always perfect. >> 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 for
the 1950's, and everybody tried to copy her look. the interesting thing about the bangs was that she first started wearing bangs in the 1920's, after the death of their son had sort of 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 appearance, 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 when ike was the head of nato, she started frequenting the
elizabeth arden salon in paris run by elizabeth's sister, gladys. 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 the mamie look and the mamie bangs. 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 here is the connection to the first lady who made waves with her bangs and with her sleeveless gown. >> we have a list of the things that mamie eisenhower was first for. one was the first couple to kiss at the inauguration -- she completed the white house china collection. she was the first one to invite tv actors to the white house. and they used white house as the they used camp david as the official retreat.
we are running out of time. we are going to robert in portsmouth, new hampshire. robert, your question. >> my question is jackie kennedy has been mentioned a few times tonight and i'm curious how the eisenhowers 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. >> our guests talked about the fact that the eisenhowers were smokers and in 1965, president eisenhower suffered a heart attack and spent 19 days in walter reed hospital. was he able to carry on his
duties? >> no. nixon carried -- they wanted things to carry on as normally as possible. you are talking about his first one? 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, there was almost a panic, 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 ads looking again how mamie appealed to women during the 1956 election. >> so much of our 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 welfare affects them first and everything in the family's life benefits from their influence. they do the family buying and seeing that everyone in the family circle is well clothed and well fed. they are the custodian of its values and aspirations for the future and it is in their hands that lies the training of our young people for whom they pass the rich heritage of our nation. it's love for peace and justice and it's 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. >> keeping the eisenhowers in -- and the american public did. they served out the next four years and 1960, the election brought john kennedy into the house where he campaigned against richard nixon. 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 she lived in. what is that? >> it is 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. and she always had that on her dresser. >> a pink phone and lots of pink things.
now to an explosion of pink, the master bedroom. >> i think the decor in this room is telling of their lives together. every bedroom they had, mamie 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 conserving her strength. she suffered from rheumatic fever as a child. 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.
>> yes, she had the stroke that would eventually end her life. they found her and taken to walter reed where she passed away in november. she had the stroke in september. >> the public, will they see this? >> if they come, they see every room and much more. we are open from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. the site closes at 5:00. >> 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 abilene, 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 web site and see a tab for first ladies and then a tab for shop. we are 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 award 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 with what we should understand about mamie eisenhower? >> 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 to them. >> and the american people returned that friendship? >> 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 here tonight, we thank them for your work. your biography is available if people are interested. marilyn holt, "mamie doud eisenhower: the general's first lady." if folks would like to learn more. thank you so much for your time.