I was going through US President Dwight Eisenhower’s daily schedule (as one does) and just noticed what might be the weirdest entry I’ve ever seen. On 10 December 1954 Eisenhower was on his way from the White House to Camp David, and he picked up two hitchhikers.
Granted these weren’t your average hitchhikers. They were Marines heading from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to their respective homes in Ohio and Michigan. But it’s still a strange thing to imagine.
President Eisenhower’s daily schedule for 10 December 1954 (Miller Center)
The dude just pulled over and was like, “you guys want a lift?” Oh, Ike. We can’t help but love your chill ways. (Provided we ignore the racist stuff.)
I looked into it, and apparently the 11 December 1954 edition of the Chicago Tribune even ran a story about it. They explained that the servicemen didn’t ride in the president’s vehicle but was one car behind him. The caravan took the two about 64km to Frederick, Maryland before they parted ways.
I know it’s not the most profound news ever. Hell, it’s not even news, given that it happened over 60 years ago. But I can’t seem to find mention of it in any Eisenhower biographies. I also have a hard time imagining any modern president stopping to pick up hitchhikers (soldiers or otherwise) on his way to a holiday.
Having seen firsthand the high speed that modern presidential motorcades travel at, it seems that these days any president would be more likely to run some poor sap over. And that definitely doesn’t play well in Des Moines.
Photo via AP: President Eisenhower in Paris, 1959