Photographing Dwight D. Eisenhower

By Barr Soltis


On August 7, 1965, something unusual happened in my little hometown of Shrewsbury, New Jersey. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was visiting a neighbor of mine, Mr. Marx. I say that he was a neighbor only because he lived on Sycamore Avenue not far from my house. Sycamore Avenue was where the rich folks lived. I lived on East End Avenue, which was across the street and was mostly composed of simple post-WWII constructed housing for returning GIs. My Dad was one of them. He settled there after flying 50 bombing missions over North Africa as a B-17 radio operator-machine gunner. I'm sure that it had to irritate Mr. Marks that low-end housing was built across the street from his mansion.

Mr. Marx had a beautiful estate with lush green pastures for his racehorses. If my memory is correct, he was the owner of a company named “Toys by Marx,” but do not quote me on that. I remember his toys as being cheap wind-ups that provided me with hours of fun. Every Halloween, Mr. Marx (or I should say his servant staff) handed out toys instead of candy. I don’t know how many of the other kids in the neighborhood knew about Halloween at the Marx Estate, but I was smart enough to know if I raced home and changed costumes (even if it was just a minor adjustment), I could return for another toy.

On that special day in August, my sister Pam and I were determined to photograph President Eisenhower, but were stopped at the gate by a cadre of Secret Service agents. My sister had a Kodak Brownie camera that came with a “press card” that I whipped out when the agents stopped us. They laughed and let us proceed to the lawn, where luckily both Mr. Marx and Mr. Eisenhower were standing--great timing!

I only wanted a photograph of the former President so I framed carefully and cut Mr. Marx out of the single photo that I took. The problem was that I didn't have a clue who was who. To me, they were just two old geezers posing for a picture. After my mother had the film developed, I found that I had actually photographed Mr. Marx! (See photo at left.) It was unfortunate that I took only one photograph, but what can you expect from an 11-year-old boy!

From that humbling beginning began my interest in photography.

Wikipedia provides the following information:

Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was the thirty-fourth President of the United States from 1953 until 1961 and a five-star general in the United States Army. During the Second World War, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe, with responsibility for planning and supervising the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO.

As President, he oversaw the cease-fire of the Korean War, kept up the pressure on the Soviet Union and during the Cold War, made nuclear weapons a higher defense priority, launched the Space Race, enlarged the Social Security program and began the Interstate Highway System.

I like Ike!




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Copyright 2008 by Barr Soltis. All rights reserved.



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