Man-Cub Mamas In History: Ida Eisenhower

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This post series is inspired by the book, First Mothers: The Women Who Shaped the Presidents by Bonnie Angelo. The book is about 11 mothers of presidents, all of whom lived in the 20th century. While Angelo presents a much more rounded version of the President’s mothers, my goal in these posts is to share only the positive things each mother did. So without further ado, here are some anecdotes about Ida Eisenhower.

  • Ida Elizabeth Stover Eisenhower, or “Ida” had 6 boys: Arthur, Edgar, Dwight, Roy, Earl, and Milton. Her most famous son, Dwight Eisenhower, became president of the United States. Her other sons were also well accomplished: one became a university president, another was an attorney, another was an electrical engineer, etc.
  • She did her best not to favor any son over the others. She rotated chores, taking into account each boy’s individuality. As an example, when sharing a pie, one son would cut the pieces, and the next brother would pick the first slice. This meant that each slice of the pie was cut with geometric precision.
  • Ida taught her boys to clean and sew. In fact, when Dwight’s wife was pregnant, it was he who altered her dresses to fit her better. Dwight took a particular liking to cooking. Ida encouraged him to be an entrepreneur as a boy, and he and his brother would sell homemade tamales (which they made based on their mother’s recipe).
  • She encouraged her boys to read, but when Dwight’s schoolwork began to suffer because he read so much, she locked all the books in a closet until he finished his work.
  • She was determined to go to get an education. As a young girl, her family could not help provide financially, so she paid her own way. She got a job as a mother’s helper, baked pies and raised chickens for sale, and put herself through high school. She later was able to attend college through her own self-sufficiency, where she studied music.
  • She had a lifelong stance against war, as she was part of a religious sect similar to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet when her son chose to join the military, she still supported and loved him.
  • Ida loved to play piano, and saved up as a young woman to purchase one of her own. She paid $600 for the finest piano she could find (a fortune in her day). No matter how poor they were throughout the rest of her life, that piano stayed with them.
  • Of her, Dwight said, “I think my Mother the finest person I’ve ever known. She has been the inspiration for Dad’s life and a true helpmeet.”

If you want to learn more about the first mothers, read the whole book!