When Ike cooked with foil in the Dartmouth Grant
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The most surprising of my delightful visits to the Grant occurred in June 1955. Our party consisted of John, Sidney Hayward, secretary of Dartmouth, and me. That spring President Eisenhower had been speaking in New England and staying with Sinclair Weeks, his secretary of commerce, in Lancaster, N.H. Each state had presented Ike with a token of esteem: Vermont gave him a fishing license, New Hampshire a fly rod; and Maine invited him to fish for a weekend at the once-famous Parmachenee Club on Caribou Island in Lake Parmachenee, then the property of the Brown Paper Company. The President would be driving to Maine Saturday morning and careful arrangements had been made that on the way he would pause for lunch in the Grant.Skip to next paragraph
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The question, of course, was how many camp followers would accompany the President, all expecting to be fed. Dickey telephoned to members of the Dartmouth Outing Club in Hanover to come on the run, bringing beans to be baked. Trout, obviously, would be the main course and beans baked in a deep pit overnight, with Mrs. Dickey's rhubarb and cookies for dessert. ``Come on, boys,'' said John, pulling on his waders. ``All you can catch. We'll fish till dark.'' This, of course, included Sam, who went off to his secret place with a can of worms. John distributed us at different pools, and the Forest Center was deserted. The boys from Hanover were digging a pit for the baked beans as we departed.
The moon was up when we returned with 42 trout, under and over a pound. Sam had captured the beauty of 21/2 pounds. ``That's for Ike,'' said John.
Saturday morning was clear and sunny. We moved benches outdoors where the trout were to be broiled on a barbecue grill. The boys reported the beans were about ready, and while we were waiting John trained his binoculars on a high crag across the valley where we had observed an eagle and its mate on their nest. Then the phone rang and the guardian announced that the President's party was entering the gate.
Perhaps it was the sight of the line of cars that attracted the male eagle, which left the nest and tilted toward our clearing. It was high overhead, riding the air currents, when the first car appeared. As John stepped forward in greeting he said, ``Mr. President, there's an eagle up there which just came out to make you welcome,'' and, as we all looked up, there it was.
Among the visitors were Sinclair Weeks, senators, congressmen, Secret Service, and many reporters. John did the honors. Each of us was presented to Ike, who praised the men from Dartmouth for their baking, the anglers for their catch, and Sam for his prize fish, now gleaming on a platter. Dartmouth had conferred an honorary degree upon Eisenhower early in his presidency and he and Dickey had a mutual admiration.
The trout were to be broiled on an open grill, but the first batch were put over the coals too soon by our volunteer cook and came out stiff, white, and overdone. Ike observed the operation skeptically. I noticed that he rubbed his prize fish with bacon and encased it in chef's foil before he donned the gloves and put it on the fire. He took it out in a jiffy, and when the foil was unwrapped the fish was still juicy and cooked to perfection. He gave a bite to each of us at the presidents' table. The reporters were being served separately, close to the bean pit, by members of the Outing Club, and their trout were juicier than what first came off our grill.
In the early afternoon Ike resumed his journey to Maine; it was only later that we heard of his experience at the Parmachenee Club. He was eager to try his new rod in the late afternoon of his arrival, and out he went with an ancient and rather subdued guide. In a surprisingly short time he hooked and netted a landlocked salmon of three pounds, and then a sizable trout. ``Is the fishing always as good as this?'' he asked his guide. ``Well, . . . no,'' was the candid reply. ``They stocked the lake for your coming and put wire over the outlet.'' Ike considered, but this was too much for his flash temper. ``Take me back to the club,'' he ordered. ``I don't want to fish in a prison!'' Nor would he go out the next morning until the wire was removed.