Today’s post comes from Christopher Abraham at the Eisenhower Presidential Library.
“I am a newspaper reporter and I would like to know if anything unusual happened during either of President Eisenhower’s inaugural ceremonies.” —Anonymous
Have you ever seen a U.S. President lassoed by a cowboy? It likely qualifies as “unusual!” General Eisenhower related this incident while describing the 1953 inaugural parade in his 1963 memoir, Mandate for Change: “A California cowboy, riding a highly trained horse, got clearance from the Secret Service, stopped in front of me, and threw a lasso around my shoulders.”
The “California cowboy” was none other than Montie Montana, motion picture star and rodeo rider. No one can say for sure what exactly was going through Eisenhower’s mind at the moment the lasso fell over his shoulders, but it might have been a severe bout of regret that the inaugural parade committee did not take up Mr. Montana’s earlier suggestion of simply presenting him and Vice President Nixon with their very own ten-gallon cowboy hats right there on the reviewing stand.
Hats for the inaugural ceremony, were, as it turns out, a topic of some consideration. Eisenhower favored a Homburg but was told that tradition dictated a silk hat. Eisenhower replied that if they should be so concerned with what happened in the past, “we could wear tricornered hats and knee britches.” Stylish!
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