Wednesday, November 14, 2007

November 14, 1896:

Mamie Eisenhower's Birthday

During her time as First Lady of the United States, Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower was quite popular, a fact perhaps forgotten in the glare of attention focused on her much younger, and ultimately bereaved, successor in that position.

She was also an important asset to her husband's candidacy. notes that "the 1952 marked the first presidential campaign in which the spouses of a presidential ticket were consciously marketed to women voters as part of a larger effort. Thus along with the Republican effort to enlist housewives as supporters and party volunteer workers by translating political issues into those most women of the era could relate to such as grocery bills or having their sons, husbands sent to the Korean War front, there were also 'Mamie for First Lady,' 'We Want Mamie,' and 'I Like Mamie Too' buttons.

"Mamie Eisenhower was an energetic and enthusiastic figure on her husband's 77-stop train tour of the nation, the candidate often finishing a speech by asking a crowd, 'How'd you like to meet my Mamie?' a cue for her to appear and wave. On the whistlestop, she even willingly re-staged a scene of waving to reporters and photographers in her bathrobe and slippers. Behind the scenes, she often listened to him rehearse his speeches and sometimes gave suggestions to edit them in a way that spoke more directly to the common citizen, in simple and direct language. She also maintained a degree of control over who came onto the campaign train, into their personal car to meet the candidate. During their layovers in hotels, when the campaign manager assigned her rooms that were apart from her husband's suite, she overruled him. In both the 1952 and the 1956 presidential campaigns of her husband, Mamie Eisenhower also made brief appearances on television commercials and live broadcasts with him.

"Mamie Eisenhower was the first president's wife known to be kissed openly in public by her husband following his inaugural ceremony. She encouraged her husband to compose an inaugural prayer which he recited at the ceremony and also strongly approved the decision to invite African-American opera singer Marian Anderson to sing at the ceremony. She also arranged for the accommodations of her African-American maids to stay in Washington, still segregated at the time, and attend all the inaugural events...."

Mamie's recipe for "million-dollar fudge," apparently a favorite of Ike's, is also still easily available on the Internet:

* 4-1/2 cups sugar
* 2 tablespoons butter
* pinch of salt
* 1 tall can evaporated milk
* 12 ounces semisweet chocolate bits
* 12 ounces German sweet chocolate
* 1 pint marshmallow cream
* 2 cups chopped nutmeats

Heat the sugar, butter, salt, and evaporated milk over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil for 6 minutes. Put chocolate bits, German chocolate, marshmallow cream, and nutmeats in a bowl. Pour the boiling syrup over the ingredients. Beat until the chocolate is all melted, then pour in a pan. Let stand for a few hours before cutting. Remember it is better the second day. Store in a tin box.

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