Before San Francisco
V ACATIONING AT KEY WEST, with plenty of golf and walking, had left the President optimistic about resuming regular routines, which would further test his physical reactions. Two days after Eisenhower returned to the White House, Hagerty announced that the latest medical examination had, indeed, shown no sign of overwork and fatigue. Republican morale climbed.
Had it all been up to Mamie, however, there would have been nothing left to decide. Like her husband, she had assumed that the White House period would constitute simply a four-year delay of an idyllic, stable and financially comfortable retirement at Gettysburg. The farm, purchased with their hope of taking up permanent residency there in 1957, was the only real home they had ever had. Until then, life in the White House was, for Mamie Eisenhower, something tolerable only as a temporary inconvenience, not unlike the past sacrifices of a loyal Army wife following her husband to various bases. While visitors to the mansion inevitably raved about her warmth and charm, at heart she resented the public nature of life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Those responsible for arranging receptions for various groups, such as teas for Republican women, discovered her reluctance to compromise with her longing for privacy. Only persuasion that argued about Ike's interest requiring such amenability dissolved such resistance.1
Milton, too, had doubts about his brother's future course. Torn between worry over Ike's health and the nation's needs, he could not be happy about a possible replacement. His own aversion to Nixon was greater than his brother's. His desires for world peace were at least equal