We’re spending Labor Day weekend at Lake Texoma, one of the largest reservoirs in the U.S., and we’ve set up camp at Eisenhower State Park, which occupies an area of 423 acres. The lake itself is nearly 90,000 acres.
The park is named for Dwight Eisenhower, the heroic Supreme Allied Commander of the American Expeditionary forces for the D-Day invasion who became the nation’s 34th president. Although he was born in nearby Denison, Texas, he only lived here for two years before his family moved to Abilene, Kansas. Eisenhower didn’t even know that he had been born in Texas until a Denison school principal wrote to him after World War II to ask if he was related to the Eisenhowers who had once lived in Denison. Eisenhower asked his mother, who was still alive at the time, and she confirmed that he had indeed been born in Texas, making him the first U.S. president born in the Lone Star State.
Although Eisenhower had no affinity for Denison, it hasn’t stopped the Denison residents from trying to capitalize on the local-boy-made-good. An enormous bust of the late president is conveniently positioned along the highway to lure motorists to the two-story frame house where he was born, which was designated a state historic site in 2009.
Eisenhower was an avid golfer and occasional fisherman, which makes the presence of the Eisenhower Yacht Club and the absence of an Eisenhower Golf Club seem odd. The club is a rather unimpressive collection of dilapidated buildings, ramps and docks that overlook a single scenic view. It’s no wonder that Eisenhower never laid claim to the area.
Thinking of Ike and how his family’s small house in Denison eventually led to the White House, and of how a couple of rivers and a handful of creeks were harnessed to create this enormous reservoir, prompted me to reflect on life in our beloved Casetta. The space may be a small but the life we live in it is large. And isn’t that what the good life is all about? Making the most of every single moment, no matter where you happen to be? More than busts or boats or birthplaces, that is likely what Ike would have embraced.