Monday, January 21, 2008

The Argus Observes --- Eisenhower filled with emotion at his first inauguration

By Don Lynch
From The Argus-Observer for Jan. 22 1953

President Eisenhower’s inauguration Tuesday was probably witnessed while it took place by more people than any other event that has ever occurred.

The television audience mush have been the largest on record. I watched it in Portland, and it was a thrilling sight for me. All over that city as elsewhere in the nation, work slowed to a snail’s pace while almost everyone stopped for long enough to see Ike sworm in and to hear his address or a part of the address. Few could watch the whole affair which lasted from early morning until mid-afternoon on the West Coast; and from mid-morning until dusk in Washington D.C.

Because I was on vacation, I didn’t have to fight the crowds in front of sets downtown. I sat in a friend’s house with six housewives who held first a coffee party and then served lunch as we watched the historic show. The children came in from school and ate lunch quietly as they lay on their stomachs on the floor watching the screen. And believe me they knew the principal characters as well or better than we parents did.

One coffee pot got burned up, the coffee cake turned out fine, the frankfurters were warmed a little too long (about three hours) but lunch was delightful.

My eyes were sore when it was all over. The inauguration was just too big a show for me. I had to wait and read the papers later to get the meaning from the President’s inaugural address. The beauty and majesty of its phrasing, its sincerity, basic hones and the broad scope of its appraisal of the mid-twentieth entry world and America’s place in the world, all these things came through to me.

But I was too distracted by the inaugural show to remember much of the actual detail of the speech.

The new president was obviously so moved by emotion that it was often difficult for him to carry on with the program. As he took the oath of office he kept his voice too tight in order to maintain enough control to get through his brief pledge. The prayer that opened the address was a model of sincerity. Watching him one knew that he spoke from deep in his heart. Later as he talked his face was pinched a little with earnestness. Here we were watching a man almost overcome with a sense of the urgent importance of the responsibility that America had placed on his shoulders.

As Ike rode down Pennsylvania Avenue, leading the inaugural parade, he looked like a kid at a picnic having the time of his life, waving joyously to the crowds and pointing out the many places of interest to Mamie at his side.

Later as he began to review the parade that passed before the White House stand, he stood so neatly at attention. For almost an hour his face was filled with emotion as he watched the thousands file by to pay tribute to a new president, Dwight Eisenhower the farm boy from Kansas.

Then he began to relax. He sat back with Mamie and the various guests such as JoeMartin and Herbert Hoover, who came to his stand and visited with them while the parade rolled by. He then only betrayed emotion by twisting the famous black Homburg. I supose it promptly became a collector’s item and certainly it wasn’t fit for much else after the way Ike mangled it Tuesday.

The housewives witching the show kept a sharp eye out for Mamie, noting the famous bangs, the close-fitting mesh hat. As nearly every American boy dreams of becoming president, so any American wife may identify herself with Mamie, a pastime that many of them obviously enjoy consciously or unconsciously.

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