One day in 1967, Dwight D. Eisenhower came to New York for the opening of an exhibition of his paintings at the old Huntington Hartford Museum on Columbus Circle. Ike, like Churchill, was an amateur painter and, like Churchill, was more ambitious than talented. Ike’s paintings were simple farm scenes and the like, and you would think, therefore, that they supported the concept proposed for the Eisenhower memorial on the Mall: a statue of Ike as a barefoot farm boy. This is not the Ike I met that day.
I was a new reporter for United Press International, and the opening of the Ike exhibition had somehow been overlooked. At the last minute, though, someone noticed it listed on upcoming events, and with virtually no one in the office, the bureau chief turned to me and uttered words almost never heard at UPI: “Take a cab.”
Down the elevator I went and out onto East 42nd Street, and in no time I was at the museum. Too late. It was over. Everyone was gone. No Ike. But . . . wait! There, coming in the door, was the former president himself. He, too, was late. I approached and introduced myself. We shook hands. “Why don’t we walk around together, Cohen?” Ike offered. And so, amazingly, we did.