National Geographic : 1969 Jul
"Ithank you... humbly for your teachings" TO CITIZENS OF ABILENE, JUNE 4, 1952 IN A WHITE FRAME HOUSE on a dusty street of a prairie town, David and Ida Eisen hower (seated at right) reared and shaped the character of six strapping boys. As Ike wrote: "Father was the breadwinner, Su preme Court, and Lord High Executioner. Mother was tutor and manager of our house hold.... According to her, each of us should behave properly not because of the fear of punishment but because it was the right thing to do." Despite their strict discipline, the parents did not interfere with their sons' life plans-though peace-loving Ida wept when Ike left to attend West Point. The family formula of hard work, frugal ity, self-reliance, and diligence produced, from left, a pharmacist, Roy; a banker, whom six survived infancy-life in Abilene possessed a certain idyllic quality. True, they had little money; David Eisenhower had signed on at the Belle Springs Creamery for an annual salary of $380. Dwight had to share a tiny bedroom with his brother Edgar; as infants, the children slept in the drawers of a highboy. "But they were such a happy family," re calls Mrs. Ray Etherington, a first cousin and frequent visitor. "Uncle Dave and Aunt Ida studied the Bible intensively, and all the boys read it from cover to cover, taking little exams on each chapter. With her dowry, Dwight's mother had bought a piano, and she gave her sons lessons on it. "Aunt Ida never had a daughter, so the Arthur; an engineer, Earl; a lawyer, Edgar; a university executive, Milton; and an Amer ican military chief and President-here in 1926 portrayed early in their careers. At another reunion in 1945, after Eisen hower's triumphant return from Europe, a reporter asked Ike's mother, then 83 (above), "What do you think of your son?" She re sponded, beaming with pride, "Which one?"