In 1918 at Fort Meade, Maryland, the young wife of an Army Lieutenant responded to a knock on the door of the couple’s base housing unit. When she opened the door, she was floored to see the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, standing on her stoop accompanied by his Secretary of War, Newton Baker.
The two men were making an inspection tour of the base and they had decided to make an impromptu stopover at the base housing area to talk with a few Army wives. After a few moments of exchanging pleasantries and getting the woman’s thoughts on her accommodations, Secretary Baker asked her, “What does your husband do best?” Understandably flustered by having the president of the United States on her doorstep, she blurted out, “He plays a good hand of poker.”
The flustered young Army wife was Mamie Eisenhower, a future First Lady of the United States. Almost forty years later, Mamie’s husband, President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, would surprise a Colorado rancher’s wife, when he knocked on her door.
The first couple was vacationing in Denver, Colorado. An avid fisherman, Ike had gone up into the Mountains with a friend to do some trout fishing early one morning.
By noon on that day, the two men had a combined catch of a dozen good-sized trout. President Eisenhower, who was quite the cook, wanted to dine on their efforts. There was a problem; however, they lacked many of the basic necessities required.
To solve that problem, the president directed the Secret Service to drive him to a ranch house a few miles from their fishing site.
Once there, the president exited the vehicle and went to the house’s front door and knocked. A woman answered the door. The president identified himself and the woman was just as stunned as Mamie had been that day long ago at Fort Meade. After a brief exchange of small talk, he asked the woman if she could possibly spare the following items; a slab of bacon, a pound of butter, a large paper bag, corn meal, and salt and pepper.
The woman said she could and returned with the items in short order.
The Secret Service then whisked the president back to the fishing site. While his friend cleaned the fish, the president built a camp fire and set the bacon to frying in a skillet. While it fried, he put the cornmeal, salt, and pepper in the paper bag, and shook the cleaned fish in it. When a sizeable amount of fat had melted away from the bacon, he placed in the trout. Within minutes he was dishing out a mouthwatering delight to his friend, his Secret Service detail, and the small press pool that had accompanied him.