Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: PA and presidential history

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Feb 15, 2015 3:40 PM
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Photo by Scott LaMar/WITF

The main house on the Eisenhower Farm

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, February 16, 2015:

Even though only one Pennsylvanian -- Jame Buchanan -- has been elected President of the United States, Pennsylvania has played a significant role in presidential history.

Monday is President's Day.  On Monday's Smart Talk, we'll learn about the history of two presidents in Central Pennsylvania.

President Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House from 1953 to1961.  After his term ended, Eisenhower and his wife Mamie moved to a farm just off the Gettysburg battlefield.  Ike continued to entertain world leaders like former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the farm.

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Photo by Scott LaMar/WITF

The Eisenhower's living room during the holiday season. The rug in front of the fire place was a gift from the Shah of Iran.

National Park Ranger Rick Lemmers appears on Smart Talk to discuss Eisenhower's life, presidency, and time in Gettysburg.

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Howard Parker and Rick Lemmers

Also, the very first national working party convention was held in Harrisburg when the Whigs nominated their candidate in December 1839. 

William Henry Harrison, who would go on to be president, was nominated over statesman Henry Clay and military hero Winfield Scott.  History remembers the ticket as "Tippycanoe and Tyler too."

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Photo by Scott LaMar/WITF

Zion Lutheran Church in Harrisburg where the Whig Party held their 1839 convention

The convention was held at Zion Lutheran Church, which still stands in downtown Harrisburg.

Howard Parker, with the Dauphin County Historical Society joins us on Smart Talk.

Mentioned on the show today: The Eisenhower Society

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  • jjones img 2015-02-16 09:38

    My parents retired to Fairfield, PA, after serving in the U.S. State Department Foreign Service for many years. At one point - and I don't know the circumstances (where, when, how) - my mother was invited to a tea in honor of Mrs. Eisenhower, during which she (my mom)was seated for a time, next to Mrs. Eisenhower. After they exchanged a few pleasantries, my mom rose to give another an opportunity to speak with her. Once she walked away, however, thinking she would go to the ladies' room to "refresh," she realized she'd picked up the wrong pocketbook - she had Mrs. Eisenhower's. I don't know what the word for "freaking out" was in those days, but that's what she did, thinking, with so many Secret Service men around, she was in very serious trouble. She looked around for one she thought might be the friendliest, most understanding, went up to him and explained that she'd inadvertently just picked up the wrong pocketbook! He very kindly walked her over to Mrs. Eisenhower, explained what happened, and apparently they all had a good laugh over it. Walking away, my mom asked him if he thought Mrs. Eisenhower would ever consider coming to tea at her home in Fairfield, explaining that she and my dad were expecting friends from Germany who would be absolutely thrilled to meet her. After a few days, my mom received a call to learn that Mrs. Eisenhower would be delighted. A date was set, the Secret Service came a couple days before to look over the house and grounds, and earlier on the set date to do the same. Mrs. Eisenhower was very gracious, rather quiet, but seemed to enjoy meeting my parents' German friends and others who were indeed absolutely thrilled to meet her in person - and my parents had a fun story to pass on to the rest of us!