|Supreme Allied Commander and President Dwight D. Eisenhower|
Dwight D. Eisenhower often worked long hours on stressful military assignments that took their toll. He’d suffer from back pain, stomach ailments, headaches and diarrhea.
“There was the Ike who showed up smiling for work each morning and his twilight twin, the Ike who went home looking drawn each evening, complaining to Mamie that he felt unwell,” wrote his biographer Geoffrey Perret.
He found ways to cope. One was by learning to fly a plane, flight being a perfect psychological metaphor for rising above responsibilities. Other escapes included golf, bridge, poker, painting, keeping a diary and grilling steaks.
Eisenhower read serious books like Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer and relaxed each evening by reading a western for a half hour before going to sleep.
Later in life, he would watch two or three films a week in the basement movie theatre of the White House.
“His favorite films, like MacArthur’s, were always westerns,” Perret noted. “He famously got so involved during a screening of High Noon that when the bad guys thought they had trapped Gary Cooper in a burning building, Eisenhower shouted, ‘Run! Run!’ Once Cooper had made good his escape, Ike turned to Mamie, exhilarated but relieved. ‘I never thought he’d make it!’”
Eisenhower told students: “Unless each day can be looked back upon as one in which you have had some fun, some joy, some satisfaction, that day is a loss.” And to permit such a thing is wicked, he said firmly.