May 21, 2015

5/12/15 - Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum

I knew Abilene was a famous cow town. In fact, it was the first cow town of the old west. (I hope you know that I sometimes read this stuff while we're traveling, and didn't know it until after we get there.) I didn't know Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) was from Abilene--and that's where the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum* is located.

We didn't have time for the movie before the Eisenhower Home tour, so we wandered down the sidewalk to the house. It looks a lot bigger from the outside than the inside. Hard to believe that the Eisenhower family with six sons lived here!
The Eisenhowers lived in this house from 1898 until Ike's mother Ida died in 1946, and contains furniture and items left by Mrs. Eisenhower. We had to stay on the gray carpet runner and could only look into the rooms. Looks like a nice plain home from the early 20th century.
After the tour, we walked over to what I would have called a chapel, but they call "Place of Meditation".  Still looks like a chapel to me. Both President Eisenhower, 34th President of the US, his wife Mamie, and their first son, Doud, are buried here.
There's a bronze statue in the center of the park. It's actually bigger than it looks, but I liked the Presidential Seal tool.
Dwight Eisenhower is the first President I remember. (My Weekly Reader--stories about Camp David, Mamie's hats and Ike playing golf--surely there was more but that's what must have impressed me in 4th grade.) The Presidential Museum and the Presidential Library face each other, both huge buildings. I think they look alike but I don't have exact pictures of both, so if you really want to know, you'll need to go to Abilene.
There are big murals in the lobby. I checked them out while George was getting his passport stamps. I'm not sure if he noticed.
The museum is like a huge maze. You just follow the exhibits around from one section to another, moving deeper and deeper into the center of the building. (I have no idea what their plan is in case of tornados--we'd never be able to figure out which way to go.) We jumped right into WWII.
There's really a lot of stuff here! I told George that there may be people who work here that have never seen everything in all the exhibits. It would take months during lunch hours. It's interesting how in museums like this, people migrate to the exhibits that interest them. So you better believe that George and I didn't always stop at the same displays!
I can pretty much guarantee that he walked right past the Mamie Gallery because he's not much interested in her wedding dress or hats. This is a picture of Mamie in her wedding gown in 1916.
I did like the 1914 Rauch & Lang Electric Auto that belonged to Mamie's parents. I waylaid George to ask some questions I had. Like why did it have dual steering, brakes and controls so it could be driven from either the left front or left rear seats? He didn't know...
There are three cases of medals and decorations given to Ike from lots of different countries after WWII ended. Some of them are beautiful, some just interesting.
There's a section on what he did during his presidency. Lots of interesting things there. Did you know  Eisenhower championed the formation of the Interstate Highway System? Don't forget it was Cold War time, so it's official name is "Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways". I don't suppose he had any idea that it would get as clogged up as it does.
His Presidential Desk is there. Some pretty exotic Gifts of State. They even have his golf clubs on display! 
The Library is across the way, geared more for research, although there are a few exhibits there. We decided we'd seen enough for one day.
Go here for more pictures: Eisenhower Center

* This is #2 on the list of 8 Wonders of Kansas. That makes five of the 8 Wonders that we've seen. #1 is shared by two wildlife refuges (Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira) and #6 is a church in Victoria, but those weren't very close to where we were. I asked George if he wanted to go to see the world's largest hand-dug well, but he wasn't interested. (sigh) It's #8 on the list. (Just FYI, he didn't want to check out the world's largest ball of twine either.)

Post a comment.

  1. Crikey ...... that sure was interesting. What's wrong with George?? I'd like to see the world's largest hand-dug well. Wonder if it's as big as some of the holes I've dug. The worlds largest ball of twine doesn't do too much for me though.

  2. I just spent 5 minutes Googling "two steering wheels" and all I could find was stuff about Driver's Education; maybe Mamie's parents moonlighted as this?

  3. Oh, forgot to mention: Mom, as you well know, I went to Eisenhower Middle School in Everett, Washington. Did Eisenhower ever go to the state where Washington certainly never did?


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