Sunday, October 14, 2007

October 14, 1890:

Dwight D. Eisenhower's Birthday

Though born in Dennison, Texas, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe and the 34th President of the United States grew up in Abilene, Kansas. It turned out to be a good grounding for his illustrious career in the military, capped by a presidency of considerable achievement.

"The sons of David and Ida Eisenhower grew up with an impressive array of skills that included forecasting the weather, telling time from the position of the sun, catching flogs, curing warts, making apple cider, wrestling, and, whenever (albeit rarely) possible, avoiding both work and soap and water," wrote Carlo D'Este in Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life (2004). "Loose teeth were dealt with by pulling out the offending tooth either with their own fingers or by means of a string tied to a doorknob, and fillings were ingredients in pies, not teeth. What they lacked in material wealth they more than made up for in amusements and pranks. Edgar and Dwight were often the center of mischief, such as the occasions when they poured beer into a neighbor's hen to see its reactions or stripped someone's farm wagon and rebuilt it on the roof of their barn.

"Dwight Eisenhower grew up with an affinity for his hometown that he never lost. His two enduring childhood fantasies were being the engineer of a locomotive racing across the plains and arriving in Abilene with its bell clanging, or of being a fearless pitcher striking out the side with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to the cheers of a crowd of five hundred spectators. The Abilene he knew at the turn of the century bore scant resemblance to the onetime Wild West town. One of young Eisenhower's boyhood heroes was Marshal Tom Smith. Not only did in his youth did Eisenhower hear local tales of Smith's courage, but throughout his life he voraciously read stirring Western pulp novels..."

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