Born in Boone, Iowa, Mamie Doud moved with her family to Colorado when she was seven. Her father, John Sheldon Doud, married to Elivera Mathilda Carlson, had retired at the age of 36 after making a fortune in the meatpacking industry. After briefly living in Pueblo and then Colorado Springs, the Douds settled in Denver. Mamie and her three sisters grew up in a large house with several servants.
For years, Mamie Eisenhower's life followed the pattern of other Army wives: a succession of posts in the United States, in the Panama Canal Zone; duty in France, in the Philippines. She once estimated that in 37 years she had unpacked her household at least 27 times. Each move meant another step in the career ladder for her husband, with increasing responsibilities for her.
Their first son, Doud Dwight Eisenhower or "Icky," who was born on January 7, 1917, died of scarlet fever in 1921. A second child, John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower, was born in 1922 in Denver. Like his father he had a career in the army; later he became an author and served as a U.S. ambassador to Belgium.
During the Second World War, while promotion and fame came to "Ike," his wife lived in Washington, D.C. After he became president of Columbia University in 1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first home they had ever owned. His duties as commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces—and hers as his hostess at a villa near Paris—delayed work on their dream home, finally completed in 1955.
They celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the staff from their last temporary quarters: the White House. Diplomacy—and air travel—in the postwar world brought changes in their official hospitality. The Eisenhowers entertained an unprecedented number of heads of state and leaders of foreign governments. As First Lady, her outgoing manner, her feminine love of pretty clothes, some of them designed by Scaasi, jewelry, and her obvious pride in husband and home made her a very popular First Lady. The gown she wore to her husband's inauguration is one of the most popular in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's collection of inaugural gowns.
Mamie was known as a penny pincher who clipped coupons for the White House staff. Her recipe for "Mamie's million dollar fudge" was reproduced by housewives all over the country after it was printed in many publications.
Because of her connection with the city of Denver and the area surrounding, there is a park in southeast Denver that bears Mamie's name, as well as a public library in Broomfield, a suburb of Denver.
As described in multiple biographies, including Upstairs at the White House by J. B. West, Mamie was unhappy with the idea of John F. Kennedy coming into office following her husband's term. Despite new First Lady Jackie Kennedy having given birth to her son John Jr. via caesarean section two weeks prior, Mamie refused to inform Jackie that there was a wheelchair available for her to use while showing Mrs. Kennedy the various sections of the White House. Seeing Mamie's displeasure during the tour, Jackie kept her composure while in Mrs. Eisenhower's presence, finally collapsing in private once the new First Lady returned home. When Mamie Eisenhower was later questioned as to why she would do such a thing, the former First Lady simply stated, "Because she never asked."
- 4-1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 tall can evaporated milk
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate bits
- 12 ounces German sweet chocolate
- 1 pint marshmallow cream
- 2 cups chopped nutmeats
Heat the sugar, butter, salt, and evaporated milk over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil for 6 minutes. Put chocolate bits, German chocolate, marshmallow cream, and nutmeats in a bowl. Pour the boiling syrup over the ingredients. Beat until the chocolate is all melted, then pour in a pan. Let stand for a few hours before cutting. Remember it is better the second day. Store in a tin box.|40px
Mamie was not known for her culinary prowess, however, she did earn fame for her fudge, which Ike named and often enjoyed. This became a staple at the conclusion of formal White House meals and was an inexpensive treat.