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#199 Ike Memoir
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Tuesday, January 30, 2024



#199 Blogpost– 30 January 2024



Posted byDenny Hatch



How America and the World Were

Introduced to a Kansas Boy Who

Became Our Fifth Greatest President.




NOTE: My father, Alden Hatch1898-1975), was a historian who wrote 40+ books that included the very firstbiography of the virtually unknown general pictured above. The book waspublished in 1944 when the Battle of the Bulge was raging in the Ardennes. GeneralIke was a roaring success — best seller in retail stores, chosen by bookclubs and received wide publicity and  presscoverage.

Ingoing through Alden’s papers we stumbled upon an intimate memoir he secretlywrote in his spare time during his last years. It is the riveting account of howmy father became the world’s foremost authority on Dwight D. Eisenhower, anewly minted four star general who had been an obscure lieutenant colonel inFebruary 1941 that virtually nobody (outside the U.S. Army and Pentagon) hadever heard of. In just two years later thanks to his brilliant work  in the War Plans Division and sunny, upbeatpersonality, went on a dizzying ride of lightning promotions Ike was taken fromhalf-colonel to four-star general in just two years and became one of the mostpowerful commanders in world history.

A Daunting Challenge for a Biographer Whose
Suddenly-famous Subject Appeared Out ofNowhere.

In1941, Dwight David Eisenhower was one of roughly 263,000 officers in the U.S. Army— veritable ciphers with zero coverage in the national media (aside aside from the stars: Generals Douglas MacArthur and George C. Marshall). No Internet, no Wikipedia, no encyclopedia entries,no mentions in the press. What's more, Eisenhower's whereabouts was a closely guardedsecret. Hatch had to start from scratch.

Hereis Alden’s story first hand — how he quickly unearthed Ike’s family and friends— his mother and brothers in Kansas, classmates in grade school and high school, the girlshe dated, fellow cadets at West Point and officers and men who served with himbetween the wars and in Washington in the early WWII  years. In 1952 my father was commissioned to update General Iketo become the Republican National Committee’s official presidential campaignbiography.







By Alden Hatch


Late in December 1943, the White House announced that theCommander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies in Europe would be General Dwight D. Eisenhower.Having just finished Young Wilkie Iwas eagerly looking for a new subject. One night at a dinner party at the RiverClub in New York someone, whose name I have ungratefully forgotten, suggestedIke. That was it!

If he gained a great victory, he would be the hero ofAmerica; if defeated, he would be a villain. Either way people would read abouthim.

On January 2, 1944, I rushed in to see my agent, AnneWatkins. She offered the idea to Harcourt-Brace, who turned it down. Atelephone call to Henry Holt and Company brought a favorable reaction and anappointment for that afternoon.

"Go over to the public library and make yourself anexpert on Ike," Anne Watkins said.

There was extraordinarily little about Eisenhower in thelibrary. Although he had commanded the invasion of North Africa, the SicilianCampaign and the landings at Salerno in Italy, there were only a few magazinearticles, most of them erroneous.

Crammed with misinformation I presented myself at Holt andtalked as though I had been studying Ike's career for years. The result was animmediate contract.

Straightway I telephoned Mrs. Eisenhower in Washington.

Neither I nor anyone else knew that Ike was on a super-secrettrip to the United States to confer with President Roosevelt and The CombinedChiefs of Staff. With surprisingly little difficulty I reached Mrs. Eisenhower whoknew no better than to agree to talk with me in San Antonio where she was goingafter Ike went back to England. She also suggested that I get in touch withIke's oldest brother, Arthur, who was regarded as the head of the family.

I called him immediately in Kansas City and he also agreed tosee me late in January. The truth is that the Eisenhowers were so unused to theways of publicity that, instead of making a careful inquiry about my bonafides, they thought they had to see anybody who wanted to write about theirsuddenly famous general.

At that point I had an inspiration on which much of thesuccess of the book eventually hinged. I remembered that Victor White—awell-known artist who was a close and dear friend of mine—had a brother Tim,who lived in Kansas City.

I called Victor and asked him to come over to my house. ThereI explained the situation and said, "I would very much like to see ArthurEisenhower, not in the formal surroundings of an office, but in someone's homewhere a friendly atmosphere prevails. Will you call Tim and get him to ask theEisenhowers to meet Ruth and me at his house for a drink?"

"Of course," Victor said. "I'll call himtonight."

"No. Call him from here. I don't want you to pay for thecall."

Victor telephoned his brother. The Tim Whites weremagnificent. They offered to have a little dinner party for the Eisenhowers andourselves. Not until later did I realize how much this meant to me. ArthurEisenhower, as Executive Vice President of the Commerce Bank of Kansas City,had a leading position in the business community. But, despite his wife'ssocial ambitions, they had never cracked the inner circle of Kansas Citysociety.

The Tim Whites—she had been Miss Peppard, heiress of thePeppard Seed Company—were just that. So when the Eisenhowers received aninvitation to dine with the Whites for the first time, Louise Eisenhower realizedher dream. My stock hit a new high before I ever got there.

Ruth and I—along with our eight-year-old son, Denny—went toChicago on the Twentieth Century and from there to Kansas City on the SantaFe’s Chief.

As our train pulled into Kansas City, the eastbound Chiefrolled up. Off stepped Jean Harlow, looking even prettier and more sexy than inher pictures. It made us feel our luck she was running good, as ErnestHemingway would say.

The omens did not lie. The next day we met Arthur Eisenhower inhis office. He was prepared to like us, and he did. Ruth was at her mostcharming and her Texas accent made everyone feel easy.

 Arthur did not lookthe least bit like his famous brother. He was a typical mid-western banker,with a strong, hard face, iron-gray hair and eyes that could be either steelyor warmly welcoming. He gave a lunch for us at the leading men's club, for whichhe had imported especially from Abilene the Eisenhower boys’ favorite meal,mush-‘n’-puddin.’ It consisted of a sort of scrapple made by grinding up theless edible parts of a hog (including its entrails), rendering it down in a bigiron pot and pouring the resultant greasy stew over fried cornmeal mush. It wasdelicious, but sheer murder. After lunch Ruth and I took to our beds.

Denny was to go alone on the Katy's [Missouri-Kansas-TexasRailroad] crack train, the Bluebonnet, to visit Ruth's Uncle Harry and AuntMamie Friedman in Fort Worth. When the time came to take him to the stationRuth was engaged in throwing up mush-‘n’-puddin'. I was already rid of mine soI saw my little son off on his first adventurous trip alone.

When we boarded the train, I handed the porter ten dollarswith careful instructions as to how to care for my precious infant. Then Dennyand I sat talking uneasily as people do prior to parting. Finally Denny said, "Hadn'tyou better go now?"

I took his advice and got off, wondering if he would be lonelyand homesick. As I walked down the platform, I peered anxiously into Denny'scar to see if he had burst into tears. He was reading a book!

Denny had a fine trip. He picked up some GIs on leave andadvanced his education considerably. The moment he reached Fort Worth he askedhis Texas relations, "Have you read The Yellow River by I. P.Freely?"

The puritanical Friedmans telephoned us that they dared nottake Denny to see his grandparents until he cleaned up his language. He never did.

The dinner at the White's was an enormous success. Timdispensed the charm of an Irish gentleman and Mrs. White was the kind ofhostess who made you feel at home the moment you stepped into her beautifulhouse. Before the evening was over, we all felt as though we had known eachother forever. Louise Eisenhower was quite clearly in orbit; and the next day,Arthur telephoned his brothers and Mamie saying, "The Hatches are realgood people. Be nice to them."

That day, in an incipient blizzard, we started for Abilene ina rented car. Weather reports were dubious, roads were icy, black cloudsdropped snow flurries. Driving through the vast, flat, frozen fields I worriedabout the possibility of being caught in heavy snow. "They don't haveblizzards this far south, do they?" Ruth said.

"Are you crazy? I answered, “This is the country where aguy starts for his barn to milk the cows and they dig his corpses out two weekslater.”

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