A Memoir by Lt Louise Furman

Lt. Louise Furman and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower at his home in Palm Springs.

It’s that time again; yet another time of year that jolts me into a clear memory of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Today as I write this, is Pearl Harbor Day, the attack that launched us into WWII, significant because we  are recently “launched” into so many other world conflicts.

Prior to D-Day last year, Casey Jones of the Kingman Miner was kind enough to hear me recount how valuable Ike was to our history; he posted an insightful article about that historic landing on the shores of France.

And so now, a warm feeling washes over this aged veteran as I recount those precious hours spent with this remarkable man at Christmas time in the southern Californian desert all those years ago.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife Mamie.

To this day, I cannot drive past the Indian Wells exit off I-15 without remembering my first encounter with the Eisenhowers. I’m often tempted to take that exit and see if I can find their house there on the golf course. But as always, I knew that one can never go back, and I’d probably find a condo complex in its place. So – no.

Rather, I cruise down that high-speed  interstate, holding firm to my geriatric slow pace, it’s easy to drop into conversation with an old friend.

Lt. Louise Furman

 “I always think about you on this stretch, General.”

“Yes, that was some time ago when you appeared on our doorstep – young pup that you were!”

“That’s so true! How little I knew! And why on earth did they send a mere first Lt. out here to care for you?!

“Beats me. But Mamie was concerned about me. And truth be told, I rather enjoyed our talks about our dogs and the growing up years.”

“Thank God for that because I had no grasp on the critical part you played during that war! But I did know about your being our “I Like Ike” president for those eight years.”

“Yeah – that White House time was something. A far cry from my military days. I liked the

the challenge of the war better. It was in my blood.”

We went on to talk about the world today and how similar the invasions are to what happened then. We recounted how his Secret Service agent called me to be his nurse again as he had said she would in a letter. I had to demur; I was in the middle of my discharge party.

Back at the house, as I was walking around their pool I saw Christmas inflatables floating. Mamie would come out and make pleasant conversation. On my second 24-hour stint there, I was smart enough to bring my Instamatic camera so that the General, Mamie and I took turns snapping photos of the three of us in that holiday scene. After I had them developed, I sent them to the General to be signed which he gladly did and returned them with fond regard.

“You know, I still have those photos and have shared them with a lot of people.”

“Yes, and I kept that neat Christmas card that you sent us.”

As I see us then, me in a starchy uniform, Ike and Mamie in their casual robe wear, I not only treasure that time with them, but cannot help but contrast it to the holidays that we now face: the wars in Ukraine and Israel, all of the gun violence right here in America, and the planet exercising her response in weather changes to our abuse of her. 

“You know, General, that this whole Palm Springs area was cut off by flooding only a few months ago. It was catastrophic for this area.”

“Yep, seems like everything is on a real different path than when you and I met.”

“And do you know …. I’m now older than you were when you crossed over? (aka died)”

“Well, not surprising. You were always trying to pull rank on me.”

“Yeah, when you wouldn’t go for a rest but rather wanted to stay up and chat with your old buddy General Omar Bradley.”

“Yeah, he had a good laugh when you threatened to pull rank on me.”

“You write a lot about him and others that served in the war in your book ‘At Ease’.”

“Stories I Tell to Friends …. I go back to it often and learn so much about you”

“Yep. That was the last one I wrote. Glad you are liking it.”

I now take the familiar trek through Banning and Beaumont and head south to San Diego. The General has bidden me yet another fond farewell. 

But there will be more encounters, D-Day or not, Christmas or not, because that brief brush with history, that however brief acquaintance with this person of such honor and integrity cannot go unspoken. Because that which becomes so Rare then becomes ever the more Cherished.  

Indeed, I do like IKE.

Merry Christmas To All (from the both of us)