Hopkins History: Strange Presidential
By Ross Jones
Special to The Gazette
President Milton S. Eisenhower (1956-67/1971-72) was a
superb public speaker. He appeared as
a featured guest at many gatherings around the country.
That provided some positive attention for
Johns Hopkins and for him, but it had a downside. Often,
shortly after the media covered one of his
talks, strange people would appear at his office asking to
One day, in the early 1960s, an older lady, well
dressed with a powder blue coat, matching hat
and white gloves, came to Eisenhower's office saying she
had an "urgent message" for him. She was
referred to Eisenhower's assistant. "What can Dr.
Eisenhower do to help you?" he asked. She said she
had just arrived, by bus, from Oregon and she needed Dr.
Eisenhower's assistance in arranging a
meeting with his brother, Dwight D. Eisenhower. She
explained that "the world will come to an end
very soon, and only [U.S.] President Eisenhower can prevent
that from happening." The assistant
assured her that he would give Dr. Eisenhower the message
and gently ushered her to the door.
On another occasion, Eisenhower's secretary told him
she was concerned about a man who had
parked his car near his office, which was in what is now
Homewood Museum, and was acting strangely,
pacing about and talking to himself. When the president was
about to leave the office that evening,
the secretary asked his assistant to accompany him to his
residence across campus at Nichols House.
The two started out in the dark of a winter night. Shortly
after they passed the car, a man jumped
out and began yelling, "I am going to bomb this university,
Eisenhower. Your people stole all my
patents." Eisenhower's assistant knew the campus well and
took the president through Remsen and
Merganthaler halls, then into Gilman Hall, down the back
stairs and out to a spot not far from Nichols
House. They had eluded the man, but he returned the next
day. City police were called and arrested
him for trespass. He lived in a nearby community and had no
connection with Johns Hopkins.
One night, after leaving the office, Eisenhower and
his assistant were having a cocktail in the
library of Nichols House (Wild Turkey was his drink of
choice at that time). The doorbell rang, and the
assistant went to the door. A box was lying on the front
step with an envelope on top of it. A car was
speeding away from the parking area in front of the house.
The assistant brought the box to the
president, who opened it. Inside was a beautiful cake
smothered with a light orange-colored icing. A
cautious man, Eisenhower held the cake out in front of him
and called for his housekeeper, Margie
Morgan. "Margie," he said, "get this thing out of here. You
never know what might be in it." Then he
opened the envelope. It was full of black-and-white photos
of two women. Their dress styles indicated
the pictures were taken in the 1920s or 1930s. The same
thing happened two months later. Another
cake, more photos and a car speeding away from the
About three years later, Eisenhower received a call
from a judge in Alexandria, Va. He said he
was about to commit a woman to a mental institution, but
she had begged him to call Eisenhower. She
told the judge that she knew the Johns Hopkins president
and that he would speak well of her.
Eisenhower told the judge that he had never heard of the
woman. He later said to his staff, "I'll bet
that's the person who delivered the cakes and photos."
Ross Jones is vice president and secretary emeritus of
the university. A 1953 graduate of Johns
Hopkins, he returned in 1961 as assistant to President
Milton S. Eisenhower and was a close aide to six
of the university's presidents.
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