SI Vault
July 21, 1958
Heidi: a Profile
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July 21, 1958

Events & Discoveries

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Heidi: a Profile

The most eminently placed and underreported bitch in America is undoubtedly the 3-year-old, ash-colored Weimaraner named Heidi who lives in the White House and answers to the whistle of the President of the United States. Heidi, a quick-moving, pointer-shaped animal bred for hunting and ghostly good looks, is the first White House dog since Franklin Roosevelt's testy, possibly basically Republican, little Scottish terrier Fala. From the notes of an old Washington dog watcher, who thinks it is high time somebody sketched a short profile of Heidi, we offer the following current report:

Heidi does not yet have the mature savoir-faire, rakish aplomb or superior poise of Fala. Moreover, her master does not give her much chance to romp at the feet of visiting prime ministers or otherwise shine in society. But Heidi is having a ball anyway.

With hot weather, Heidi has been slipping into the Presidential working quarters oftener and oftener, since she likes the air conditioning as well as anybody else. She comes scratching (Weimaraners are good scratchers) at one of the doors of her master's office that opens onto the White House terrace. Master can usually be counted upon to let her in. Sooner or later there is another open door, and Heidi rambles down the hall. She likes to make for General Jerry Persons' office, roll over on her back and let the general scratch her stomach.

On Heidi's collar is a little brass tag that reads: "President Eisenhower." This is very imposing, but not to other dogs. Until Ike had Heidi spayed, there was a certain problem with dogs bearing no White House credentials (possibly even Democrats) slipping through the iron fence and pursuing Heidi, while sweating White House policemen pursued them. Heidi is also sometimes slack about her housebreaking training and has been forgetful a few times in the diplomatic reception room on the ground floor of the White House proper.

Worse yet is a still more delicate problem—and it would be best if Oregon's Senator Dick Neuberger never heard of it. Heidi has, once or twice, trotted proudly up to White House attendants and dumped the body of a squirrel at their feet in loyal generosity. Since Senator Neuberger raised such a ruckus about the mere deportation of squirrels, he might go berserk at this news—unless he is a balance-of-nature advocate. In any case, the squirrels are getting very wary of Heidi.

Ask the Man Who Owned One

Sixty years ago a young manufacturer of Warren, Ohio, after driving two European cars and a Winton, set about building his own automobile in a shed attached to his arc-light factory. It appears that James Ward Packard did not intend to make a luxury car, since the early accounts merely stress the fact that the Packard would climb a hill.

Packard was a thoughtful individual with rimless pince-nez and the benign expression of President William McKinley, whom he resembled. He got his first car on the market in 1899 and sold it for $1,250. Then he exhibited at Madison Square Garden and sold three Packards to William Rockefeller, shortly thereafter selling the whole firm to Henry Joy, a Detroit playboy, who proceeded to make ownership of a Packard an American symbol of success, wealth, prestige, happiness and the joy of life.

This week the Studebaker-Packard Corporation announced that it was discontinuing the Packard line because the company's "destiny is tied to smaller cars." How well Joy and Packard had achieved their aim of making Packard synonymous with luxury was evident in the fact of the announcement. For 20 years Packard fitted into American folklore as the big car. The 1903 model sold for $7,500. The 1907 cost only $4,200, but the advertising was so swanky that a single catalog cost the company $35 for every copy it gave away. In the '20s, when some 50,000 Packards were sold a year (for about $3,000), the Packard was beyond American rival as the symbol of class, with its exultant advertisements—Ask the Man Who Owns One!—and its distinctive radiator line, unchanged in model after model, that made it instantly recognizable everywhere.

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