El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I like Ike - Who wouldn’t have liked Ike?

President Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower, January 1953
“I like Ike“ was the presidential campaign slogan for General Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower in 1952. Who wouldn’t have liked Ike? He was the man in his day and had more impressive titles than any other person in mid-century America. Being “Tight with Ike” meant that you ran with the in crowd at the Pentagon.

Among the many titles he held in his career:

Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Military Governor of the American Occupation Zone in Germany
Five Star General of the Army
Commanding General European Theater of Operations (ETOUSA)
Supreme Commander Allied (Expeditionary) Force of the North African Theater of Operations (NATOUSA)
Commander in Chief
President of the United States
President of Columbia University

More than likely he was also President of the local chapters of the Elks Club, the Rotary Club and Supreme Commander of the PTA. He was even a real estate broker as he brought in a couple extra states for us (Hawaii and Alaska) to make it a nice even number of 50. I am sure Ike never had a problem getting a table at his favorite nightclub back then. A conversation with the maitre d' would have gone like this: “You remember that D-Day invasion at Normandy back in ’44? well, I was in charge of that whole operation, now how about a table for two right next to Sinatra and Brando."

The snapshot in this post was taken in January 1953 during his inauguration parade back in a time when we could get close enough to capture a candid moment in history without the fantastic telephoto lens. Thanks to the actions of Squeaky Fromme, John Hinckley, Sirhan Sirhan, Mark David Chapman and the fictional Travis Bickle (from Taxi Driver) the whole up close and personal feel to these events is a thing of the past. In June of 1968 we were living on Beverly and Kenmore in Los Angeles about a mile north east of the Ambassador Hotel when Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed in the pantry of the hotel. I don’t remember a thing since I was about 4 years old but years later at a neighborhood reunion party, a neighbor from that time recalled hearing the small caliber gunshots that day from several blocks away, through Wilshire Blvd traffic and from the inside of his apartment. We just poured him another Johnnie Walker on the rocks and humored him.

An early episode of the sitcom Happy Days had the Fonz character played by Henry Winkler endorsing Ike in the 1956 re-election campaign. The Fonz gave a quick speech at a rally that went like this: “I like Ike, my bike likes Ike….heeeeey”. The Fonz gave Dwight Eisenhower his two thumbs up approval that night and the rest of America soon followed.

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