Eisenhower and Nixon Meet in Wheeling

Wheeling Intelligencer
September 25, 1952

Many Ike Supporters Didn't Get to See Him

Milling Crowds, Confusion prevent Many Hundreds Seeing General Here and at Field

By Jay Gossett
Of The Intelligencer Staff

"I see him," the small girl on her dad's shoulder shouted but she was more fortunate than most of the thousands who gathered at various places in Wheeling last night for a glimpse of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and his running mate, Richard Nixon.

With the exception of those who gathered at the Island stadium to hear Ike's address, disappointment was the reward of the majority of area citizens who massed as the Baltimore & Ohio railroad station, Hotel McLure and Stifel field.

Confusion seemed the order of the day as the crowd milled back and forth in response to rumors, changed plans, and schedules racked by delays.

First the Republican presidential candidate arrived 30 minutes late but a patient crowd, many of whom had been standing on benches in the railroad station lobby or filling the street in front of the station for an hour, greeted Ike's arrival with a rousing cheer.

An electric thrill flashed through the shoving, milling throng as the General, ruddy-complexioned and flashing the famous grin, rushed up to the welcoming committee.

Only those against the ropes lining the lobby caught a glimpse of the ceremony as Eisenhower was presented the gold-tinted key to the City of Wheeling. Most saw only the key as Ike flashed it high over his head in accepting it.

A rumor that the General had been spirited away to the hotel via the back door of the railroad station, caused many in the throng surging outside the station to disperse.

But a few minutes later, Eisenhower, who apparently retraced his steps to the rear of the station briefly, dashed out the front of the station surrounded by secret servicemen, West Virginia state troopers and Wheeling policemen.

Mrs. Eisenhower waited on the train while the General in a closed car rode up Market street lined by thousands to the McLure hotel where local candidates, members of the welcoming committee and curious citizens waited.

But the General's car sped back to Eisenhower campaign special while the throng representing every walk of life, as diverse as shoeshine boys, bobby-soxers, an elderly man who almost fainted in the hotel lobby and a middleaged woman on crutches, remained vigilant inside and surrounding the hotel.

Later the motor cavalcade carrying the General sped out to the airport where several thousand persons lined the fence surrounding the airfield, to welcome Nixon and his wife, Pat.

Reaching the airport at 9:20 o'clock, Eisenhower and Mamie remained in their car awaiting the arrival of Nixon's plane while flash bulbs popped and the curious edged through the throng to peep around the sentries shielding the Republican nominees black sedan.

Shouts of "We Want Nixon" were heard amid the roar which greeted Ike and Mamie at the airport. Bobby-soxers wandered through crowd flashing placards with the message, "I Like Ike and All American Dick Nixon" as the vice presidential candidate nearly stole the spotlight from Wheeling's distinguished visitor.

Some teen-agers converted a high school yell for the occasion, blaring forth with, "We Like Whisky, We Like Wine, Ike Can Beat Stevenson, Any Old Time."

Uniformed policemen and plainscothesmen managed to thin down the crowd on a ramp slightly by the time Nixon's chartered United Airlines Mainliner landed at 10 o'clock.

After the huge airliner settled down on the field, officers linked hands to form a human fence through which the General, clad in a light blue suit, sprinted to the airliner.

While Ike boarded the plane to greet Nixon privately inside, Mrs. Eisenhower remained in the car, intently watching her husband's progress through the massed humanity.

A sustained shout, exceeding any that greeted the General, welled up as the youthful vice presidential candidate, preceded by his wife, Pat, and Ike emerged through the door of the liner.

Mrs. Eisenhower jumped out of the car to shake hands with Mrs. Nixon and her husband as they reached the limousine, greeting them with a broad smile.

Mrs. Nixon waved to the crowd as cries of "Pat" arose, then her husband and Ike reached the car and all four got in for the dash to Wheeling stadium and the delayed speech.

Despite the disappointment, most of those who vainly struggled for glimpse of the distinguished American remained good humored.

A few complaints of "He let the people down, I'll switch to Stevenson" were heard but even those were mostly mollified by a laugh.

In addition to the throngs at the railroad station, hotel and airport, many others waited hours along the route from Stifel field to the stadium to see the famous military leader's car speed by.

Government and Politics