"This Girl and I Liked to Whirl"

When Ike was five he went to a family reunion at his uncle’s house in Topeka. There were a lot of grownups there who didn’t interest Ike much, so he started wandering around the grounds. An aggressive gander chased him back inside. His uncle gave him a broom handle and sent him out again.

“More frightened at the moment of his possible scolding than I was of aggression, I took what was meant to be a firm, but was really a trembling stand the next time the fowl came close. Then I let out a yell and rushed toward him, swinging the club as fast as I could. He turned and I gave him a satisfying smack right in the fanny.

“From thence on, once he found out I had a stick he would continue his belligerent noises whenever he saw me but he did not again come near me. I never made the mistake of being caught without my weapon,” Ike concludes. “This all turned out to be a rather good lesson because I quickly learned never to negotiate with an adversary except from a position of strength.”

I’m quoting this from “In Review,” but it’s probably from one of Ike’s other four books. Here’s a sample of Ike anecdotes:

He loves reading ancient history so much that his mother has to lock up his history books to get him to do his chores.

He gets in fistfights from time to time, when his cause is just, and usually comes out on top, by his account.

His mother, a pacifist, wept when he joined the military.

As a new cadet at West Point, he and another cadet were ordered to report to the room of this martinet senior in their dress coats. They reported in their dress coats and nothing else. They suffered for it, but they got a good laugh.

He receives a demerit at West Point for jitterbugging (It was termed indecent dancing.) with the same young woman after having previously being given a warning about the very same behavior. I guess I’ll have to let Ike tell it for himself:

“After I became an upperclassman, I went to cadet dances only now and then, preferring to devote my time to poker. On one of the rare occasions when I did go to a dance, I met a girl, a daughter of one of the professors. We started dancing in a way that the authorities of the time felt was not in accord with the sedate two-step, polka and waltz that made up the repertoire of cadet dance music.

“This girl and I liked to whirl, just whirling around the room as rapidly as we could. I suppose the exercise probably showed a little more of the girl’s ankles, possibly even reaching to her knees, than the sharp-eyed authorities thought was seemly. I was warned not to dance that way anymore.

“A few months later, it happened that I stopped in at a dance, possibly because it was one of the affairs known as a ‘Feed Hop’ where food was served late in the evening. Often the poker players would take a recess from our Saturday night game, rush over to get sandwiches and a cup of coffee and go back to the game.

“I met the same girl again and forgot entirely the warning issued earlier. The exuberant sensation of swinging around the room was too much for me to ignore and so, in due course, I was hailed before the Commandant. He informed me that I not only danced improperly, but had done so after a warning. For this offense I was demoted from the grade of sergeant to that of private.

“I was, in matters of discipline, far from a good cadet,” Ike confesses. “While each demerit had an effect on class standing, this to me was of small moment. I enjoyed life at the Academy, and had a good time with my pals, and was far from disturbed by an additional demerit or two.”