Where I live, on a remote Maine lake, there are few people to talk to about anything. There I was, with no telephone, the biggest story of my life, and no one to tell it to! So I had hunted up all my woodsman friends within a half-day's travel. I had told them where I was going to eat lunch on Saturday, June 25 and with whom. Many of them gave me messages, with instructions in government policy, to deliver verbally to the President. Judging by the nature of some of these messages, my friends were of the same mind as the gas-station man in Strong. A few, I think, half-believed me....
As I drove on toward the Rangeley section of Maine, getting closer to Errol, N.H., the adventure began to look real. My excitement mounted, causing me to visualize intimate little scenes. The President wasn't scheduled to do any fishing while a guest of our party but in one of my scenes he did. He was having poor luck, so I waded over to him and gave him a special fly I had—a Nine-Three, invented and tied by Dr. Sanborn of Maine. With my fly Ike hooked a two-pounder on his first cast. I skillfully netted the fish for him, while a myriad of cameras flashed. I sent one of the pictures to my son Jim in Bishop, Calif. and Jim showed it to my grandson Jeff, saying, "Look, Jeffie! That's Grampy, with the President of our country!"
This thrilling fancy had taken me clear out to California. I returned abruptly to western Maine, Route 4, but was soon at large again. Since I had no notable war experience and knew less than nothing about politics and world affairs I felt obliged to restrict my conversations with the President, even imaginary ones, to domestic items. I did so, telling him that my home was a log cabin in northern Maine.
"That's good," he said. "That's American. I wish mine was."
A PRESIDENTIAL WISTFULNESS
In this brief dream I detected a wistfulness in the President's voice. So I asked him to come to my cabin for a long weekend and bring Mrs. Eisenhower. He accepted my invitation with a touching and almost predatory eagerness and called to Bernard Shanley, his appointment man.
"Bernard," he said, "get Mamie on the phone and fix the schedule so we can get up to Ed Smith's cabin over the Fourth."
The thing was getting out of hand. What would I say when I actually met Mr. Eisenhower? What would he say? What would you say? The thing to do, I told myself sternly, is to act and talk naturally.
This bit of self-admonition brought me back to reality with a timely snap. I was driving too far over on the left-hand side of the road and I had lost track of where I was. The route number was now 16. I had passed through the town of Rangeley without knowing it and was only a few miles from Errol.
At the base of a hill I noticed a car parked on a side road. Beside it stood a man, his wife and several young children. It looked like motor failure, so I drew up, smiled benevolently and said, "Trouble?"