September 17, 2013 – Eisenhower Presidential Museum and Library – Drive to Topeka – Kansas State Capitol Building

Our first stop of the day was just ½ mile from our campground, returning to the Eisenhower Presidential Museum.  While we spent much of our time there yesterday in those sections devoted to his youth and military service through most of World War II.

Picking up where we left off, I was intrigued with some exhibits both dealing with his personal life and the end of the war.

Straw boots – worn by German soldiers on the Eastern Front over their regular boots to prevent frost bite

Quarter-ton 4X4 Jeep which became the backbone of the American’s military transportation system during the war with over 600,000 seeing service in every theater

1942 Cadillac Sedan used by General Eisenhower during World War II (frequently driven by Kay Summersby. After the war, it was returned to the US for his use … then during his tenure as president of Columbia University. Later, when Eisenhower was named Supreme Allied Commander in Europe it again followed him

If there was any scandal in Ike’s life it revolved around the passionate, moving secret love affair between General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, and Kay Summersby, the beautiful English fashion model who became his driver in wartime London, his staff aide, by his side through every crisis and high-level meeting of the war — and the woman he loved. The relationship that began, haltingly, in 1942, when Kay was assigned to drive the then unknown two-star general, and ended in heartbreak when Ike, victor and war hero, returned home to face a disapproving General Marshall, the adoring American public, Mrs. Eisenhower and the possibility of becoming President of the United States

An executed copy of the unconditional surrender of the Germans (V-E Day)

An executed copy of the unconditional surrender of the Japanese (V-J Day)

There was a section on his post-war Victory Tour,

His draft and campaign for the Presidency (I clearly remember the “I Like Ike” campaign pins),

  His years in the White House … when he not only ended the Korean Conflict but kept American our of any new wars … and was a proponent for civil rights,

saw the admission of Alaska and Hawaii to the Union, and, in part as a result of an assignment he volunteered for while assigned to Camp Meade, Maryland. He volunteered for an Army convoy that spends the summer traveling across the U.S. along the Lincoln Highway (U.S. Highway 30) to study the time it takes to move military equipment from coast to coast … only to discover to his dismay that the average speed they made was a blistering 6 MPH, he became the father of the Interstate Highway system.

President Eisenhower was also the first to hold a televised press conference and was ultimately awarded an Emmy (the only president to receive such an award) for his transcending the use of the new medium.

After his presidency, he and Mamie retired to their farm in Gettysburg, PA where he remained as a confident of his two successors, JFK and LBJ, a painter, and advocate for the pursuit of world peace.

Upon his death on March 28, 1969, condolences and accolades poured in from all over the world.  However, two  men who knew him well and also became president perhaps summed up Ike’s legacy as well as anyone.

Before leaving the grounds, we passed by the sculpture of General Eisenhower.

Champion of Peace

On our relatively short (90 mile) drive

to Topeka, we passed one unfortunate motor home driver who had apparently had an issue with his awning.  While such an event was near hysterical in the Robin Williams movie “RV”, having had the awning on our previous motorhome unravel while driving down a highway in North Dakota, we felt nothing but compassion for this unfortunate traveler.

After checking in at the Deer Creek Valley RV Park, we drove back into Topeka to visit the State House, the sixth since we began our quest to see as many as possible.

Photo borrowed from the Internet as the exterior dome is hidden behind scaffolding as part of the entire building undergoing $400 million in renovations

Construction on the building began in 1866 and took thirty-seven years to complete as a cost of $3,200,588.92.  It was officially dedicated on March 24, 1903. The Capitol measures 399 feet north and south and 386 feet east and west.  It stands 306 feet from the ground to the top of Ad Astra‘s bow.

The west wing is four feet wider and six feet longer than the east wing. The dome is 66½ feet in diameter at the bottom of the copper dome and 54½ feet from the beginning of the copper dome to the cupola floor.  The cupola height is 23½ feet.  The Kansas State Capitol is approximately 17 feet higher than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Interior of the dome looking up from the first floor

Interior of the dome from the fifth floor

Dome artwork

What we’ve discovered is that every state capitol seems to have its unique feature(s) and/or “claim to fame”.   In this case, while the state house tour guides will tout the fact its dome is the second highest dome of any US state capitol building … it is the copper railings, newells and balusters which set the interior apart.

Otis Elevator – Stare law requires the elevator to have a human operator manning it from 8-5 daily

 Our tour took us to the 125-member House Chamber, where Debbie brother, Dave, once served;

the 40-seat Senate Chamber;

Original desks but newer chairs

 

the Old Supreme Court Chamber (the Court now meets in another building across from the Capitol);

Where Debbie finally got her chance to be judge and jury!

the State House Library (which serves as both a state and federal repository for books and documents … and is open to the public);

The former Secretary of State’s Office;

The only room in which the oak is stained in its original color

Original desk with unusual “drawers”

Marble sink dating to the time many office holders stayed in the Capitol Building overnight – the only such sink in the State House

 the Governor’s formal reception office;

I finally get to play governor!

And two extremely controversial murals by John Stewart Curry (1897-1946).

“Tragic Prelude”, which feathers a huge portrait of John Brown during his early anti-slavery movement (the rifles were smuggled to him in a wagon under a cargo of Bibles by Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin)

Kansas Pastoral – people complained the Hereford bull was too red, too long and its neck too thick and the farmer’s wife’s skirt was too short


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