Eisenhower and the American Crusades

By Herbert S. Parmet | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19
Redeeming the Pledge

T HE ENTIRE OPERATION, George Humphrey later recalled, was done in the "most hush-hush, cloak and dagger manner you ever heard in your life." Special agents brought instructions for carefully worked-out, topsecret departure plans that called for leaving homes and hotels at predawn hours, walking specified numbers of street blocks in carefully prescribed and varying directions, driving through the darkness with dimmed or totally blacked-out headlights, emplaning at obscure landing strips, obeying restrictions against stepping out of planes at fueling stops and cryptic radio messages while aloft. Humphrey, the Secretary of the Treasury designate, was visited at his home near Cleveland by an agent; he was to meet him on a designated city street in the middle of the night, and from there they would leave for the flight to New York. Then, making a nocturnal departure from his hotel, he would travel by car to a given street, walk eight blocks in the dark, meet a man on the corner, and then be picked up in a car for the ride out to Long Island.1

At five-thirty on the morning of November 29, two men stepped out of 60 Morningside Drive. Their coats turned up against the thirty-degree temperature, they stepped into a black Cadillac limousine. With the city still quiet, the car cruised unimpeded across the Triborough Bridge; after a drive along a back road that paralleled the Air Force base at Mitchel Field, they reached the installation. As the gate swung open, another car pulled ahead of the limousine and provided an escort to the runway. There, with two big Constellations waiting in the dark, the Cadillac stopped and both men emerged. The driver was a Secret Service agent; the other man, wearing a brown double-breasted suit and camel's-hair coat, was President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower.2

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