Before he was President: Dwight Eisenhower

Dwight David Eisenhower, 1953-1961
Unable to continue playing football due to a knee injury in college Dwight Eisenhower served as both a coach and a cheerleader for the school's team. Eisenhower's family could not afford to send him to college. Even though he never planned on being a career soldier, he applied to West Point because he was told military colleges were free. When Eisenhower was a major in the Army he used his poker winnings to by his wife, Mamie, a silver tea service set. Each time he won money at poker he would buy another piece until he had purchased the entire set for her. You can see the set here. It is now displayed at the Eisenhower home and farm in Gettysburg, PA.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961-1963 ranch hand
The first paying job John Kennedy had was in 1936 when we spent the summer working as a paid ranch hand. He worked 6 days a week and was paid $1.00 per day. The majority of the work he performed was building ranch offices with mud!

Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1963-1969 schoolteacher
Johnson and his wife, Claudia "Lady Bird" Alta Taylor, were married with a $2.50 wedding ring bought at Sears Roebuck.

The television show American Experience: LBJ gave this example of how hard a Johnson worked on an election:

In the spring of 1937, Johnson was 28 years old, campaigning as an ardent Roosevelt New Dealer, reaching out to the working men and poor dirt farmers of the Texas hill country. He ran for office as if his life depended on it. He spoke in every town in his district, lost 40 pounds in 42 days, made 200 speeches and collapsed with appendicitis just two days before the election.

From his hospital bed, with his wife Lady Bird, he learned that he'd been elected one of the youngest members of Congress. His political ideals would waver, but for the rest of his life, he would display the same nervous intensity, the same obsessive drive to succeed and a talent for attaching himself to power.

More stories: Duncan Hines   George Washington   Thomas Jefferson   Benjamin Franklin   James Garfield   Harry Truman   Henry Ford

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