A Look Back in Time: Dwight Eisenhower Visits Centralia During ‘Whistlestop’ Campaign Tour in 1952


The 1952 Republican presidential nominee Dwight Eisenhower visited Centralia on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 1952. The former general who led the Allied Forces to victory in World War II spoke to a crowd of almost 4,000 Lewis County residents at the Union Depot during a whistle stop campaign tour.

The crowd had begun gathering an hour before the train was scheduled. Hundreds of “youngsters,” including some from outlying areas, were brought by bus to the station to hear the future president speak.

Eisenhower, who would be elected the 34th president on Nov. 4, was introduced by U.S. Rep. Russell Mack, of Hoquiam.

“He came out radiating that famous smile, going from side to side of the platform, waving and grinning at the thousands who had gathered to greet and hear him,” The Chronicle reported. “The grin faded and the general got deadly serious as he ripped into the present (Truman) administration in his short talk … He said a change in Washington could be brought about only if there is a ‘great surge’ of people to the polls in November.”

Eisenhower proceeded to attack outgoing president Harry Truman, pointing to an alleged incident the previous week in which the president’s security arrangements on a train had delayed apple shipments. 

“I want you to know my special train didn’t hold up apple shipments for two days,” Eisenhower told the crowd.

During the stop, a local resident called to the general, “Hi, Ike. How’d you like to go fishing?”

“Fine,” Eisenhower responded. “If they’d stop the train long enough, I’d go with you right now.”

A pair of pictures of Eisenhower and his wife “Mamie” were included in The Chronicle. The caption for the pictures read “Hundreds of Lewis County citizens got a close-up look at General and Mrs. Eisenhower when ‘Ike’s’ special campaign train halted. He greeted an enthusiastic crowd with his famous grin, but moments later he sternly discussed national issues and exhibited the new ‘give ‘em hell’ attack that has lately marked his campaign … Mrs. Eisenhower appears after the crowd demanded: ‘Where’s Mamie?’ ‘She’s right there!’ returned Gen. Ike, and presented her.”

After speaking, Eisenhower’s train continued south from Centralia, having left Seattle the previous night.


Saturday, Oct. 8, 1932

• Chehalis received a silver trophy from the Portland Rosarians at a “colorful ceremony” on Oct. 8. The award was presented by the Rosarian’s “Chairman Buchanan” to honor Chehalis’ second-place showing at Portland’s Rose Festival parade. “The ceremony took place before a large crowd in the auditorium, which was made beautiful for the occasion with the exhibits of the Lewis County Garden Club,” The Chronicle reported.

• Enos Parker died in Jackson Prairie at the age of 74. Parker was born in 1858 and was survived by his wife, six children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

• Albert Sears, 70, died on the morning of Oct. 8. Sears was a “pioneer citizen,” according to The Chronicle, and had first come to Centralia in 1893. Sears was born in Rockford, Illinois, on April 14, 1862. He served as a Lewis County commissioner from 1898 to 1904 followed by a term on the Centralia School Board. In 1911, Sears was elected to the Centralia Commission after the commission form of government was adopted. According to The Chronicle, Centralia’s gravity water system was constructed during his tenure as a commissioner. Sears was a charter member of the Centralia Elks’ Lodge and Rotary Club.

• The Chronicle reported a farmer in Rochester had successfully killed a pheasant with a pitchfork on Wednesday, Oct. 5. “Nimrods can boast about their double-barrels, their repeaters and their automatics till the air smells of gunpowder, but a common old pitchfork is all the hunting tools Bert Rau of Rochester needs anytime,” The Chronicle reported. Apparently Rau had spotted a Chinese pheasant while pulling thistles in his field. “Did he run to the house for his flintlock?” The Chronicle asked. “He did not.” Rau’s family reportedly ate the pheasant after he killed it.

• The Morton City Council was reported to have set Nov. 9 as the date of a caucus to nominate candidates for the city’s annual municipal election. The mayor and four councilmen were to be elected. R.E. Welch was to be the only holdover from the previous term, with “Mayor Hendricks” and councilors H.S. Huson, G.H. Samuelson, Frank Geer and C.B. Smith all retiring from office.

• Fourteen Winlock property owners signed a petition presented to the town council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4 requesting a part of the northwest area of Winlock be removed from the town and given to the county. It had been speculated the land might be used as part of an upcoming “farm-to-market” project.

• A group of Centralia men returned from a hunting trip on Oct. 8, according to The Chronicle. The men had gone to the Strawberry Mountain district and successfully returned with four deer, one of which weighed 300 pounds, and three bears. The men were Frank Farris, Tom Vaughn, Ray Vaughn, Fred Shearer, Ted Patton and Harry Morris.


Thursday, Oct. 8, 1942

• Shedrick Poyner, 26, was arrested in Tacoma by U.S. Marshal’s Deputy Joe Karpach. Poyner, a Chehalis resident, was wanted for violating draft laws related to U.S. involvement in World War II.

• Augusta Johnson, a 28-year resident of the Centralia area, died on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at the age of 82. Johnson was born on an unspecified date in 1860. She was survived by four sons, two brothers, two sisters and six grandchildren.

• The Civil Aeronautics Authority, joined by the secretaries of war and Navy, announced they at tentatively allocated $307,000 to fund the construction of an additional 1,000 feet for each runway at the Chehalis Airport. Members of the county and city commissions were meeting at the courthouse on Oct. 8 to discuss the funding.

• Chehalis schoolchildren were expected to to begin collecting scrap metal in the coming weeks as part of a nationwide effort to ensure the military had adequate resources for the war effort. “Children from the schools, under the direction of Superintendent J. Glann, will solicit scrap material from every home in the city,” The Chronicle reported. Members of the Chehalis community were helping coordinate the salvage effort as part of the Chehalis Salvage Committee. “Many a strong weapon have been placed in the hands of boys who are fighting on fronts all over the world, made from the scrap you have given,” said Joseph Hurley, chair of the Chehalis Salvage Committee.

• A “good’ four-room furnished house in Rochester was listed for $1,500. The house sat on 15 acres and included “18 laying pullets” and a “year’s supply of wood and coal.”

• The Chronicle ran a story on the German blockade of the Norwegian coast that included a map showing the location of the German warships and the extended route U.S. and British ships were having to take to carry supplies to the Soviet Union. “Germany’s fleet is small in number of warships, but it is a big menace to the allied aid route across the Arctic to Russia and a big headache to the U.S. and British navies,” The Chronicle reported. About 20 German troops were believed to be taking shelter in the “well protected” Norwegian fjords. The Chronicle reported the German ships and dive bombers were causing the U.S. and British militaries to divert significant naval resources to protecting supply lines with the Soviets.

• A book on the history of Centralia written by Centralia High School students was reportedly still receiving awards since its publication during the spring. The book, “Centralia — The First 50 Years,” was written by high school students under the supervision of English teacher Herndon Smith. The book, which The Chronicle reported to be the first of its kind in Washington state, had recently been recognized by The Associated Press, who wrote a story detailing the book’s preparation and publishing.


Wednesday, Oct. 8, 1952

• Rainbow Falls State Park saw record attendance over the summer. “We had some 11,000 visitors during the season,” said Morris Lealos, the park’s superintendent. “That is three times as many visitors over the figures of two years ago.” The park was scheduled to close for the fall and winter months beginning on Monday, Oct. 13. Lealos said visitors were still allowed to come to the park but many of the park’s facilities would be locked.

• Chehalis School District students were scheduled to have the day off on Thursday, Oct. 9 for the annual “regional convention-institute.” The institute was set to take place in Chehalis at the R.E. Bennett auditorium. Teachers from Lewis, Pacific and Grays Harbor counties were expected to be in attendance. Lewis County Superintendent Florence Kennicott and Chehalis School District Superintendent Chester Rhodes were expected to preside. Ethel Alpenfels, a professor of education at New York University, and J. Wesley Crum, the President of the Washington Education Association and the former Superintendent of the Chehalis School District, were to be the featured speakers.

• Car thieves reportedly stole three cars in Centralia on the night of Tuesday, Oct. 7. The total number of stolen cars was brought up to five for the week in the Twin Cities, after two other cars were stolen in Chehalis on Monday, Oct. 6. One of the stolen Chehalis cars had since been found about four miles south of Chehalis while the other car was found in Seattle late on Oct. 7. Police officers speculated one or more of the stolen cars had been taken by two boys who had run away from the State Training School in Chehalis, now known as Green Hill.

• Lucy Chisel died on Tuesday, Oct. 7 in a local nursing home. The 81 year old Centralia resident was born on July 25, 1871 in Plymouth, Pennsylvania. She was a member of the Catholic Church and was survived by one daughter and two grandsons.

• A two year old, “ultra modern” two bedroom house in Centralia was listed for $11,500. The house included a “very nice built-in kitchen, large dining room, attached garage” and a “nicely landscaped” yard.

• A litter of eight week old black labrador retriever puppies from “proven hunting stock” were listed in The Chronicle. Females were listed at $20 and $30 while males were listed at $40 and $50.

• Two “determined husky dogs” listened to Dwight Eisenhower address the crowd in Centralia on the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 7. Police had received reports that morning that “dogs had broken their chain and taken off,” according to The Chronicle. The two dogs were later found listening to the Republican Presidential Nominee with “rapt attention.” There was one problem for the dogs however. “The huskies will be out of luck, though, at the polls on Nov. 4. They forgot to register,” The Chronicle reported.



Monday, Oct. 8, 1962

• Four drivers were arrested by state patrolmen for drunk driving in Lewis County over the weekend of Oct. 6 and 7. Two of them, Joe Slusher, 46 of Rochester and Bob Brown, 47, of Portland, were both released on $100 bail. Robert Axtell, 18 of Kelso, was arrested on the additional charge of illegal possession and consumption of liquor by a minor. Axtell was released on $150 bail. Otis Martin, 35 of Seattle, was arrested for the additional charge of having an invalid license.  Martin remained in the Lewis County Jail on Monday, Oct. 8.

• A total of 1.01 inches of rain fell on the Twin Cities over the weekend of Oct. 6 and 7. The measurement, which measured rain from Saturday to Monday morning, recorded 0.2 inches of rain on Saturday morning, 0.57 inches on Sunday and 0.24 inches on Sunday night and Monday morning.  The weekend rain was accompanied by wind. The forecast for the upcoming week expected continued rain showers and lower than normal temperatures.

• Centralia businessman and military figure Colonel Archer Kresky died on Sunday, Oct. 7 at the age of 74 after living in Centralia for 50 years. Kresky had been involved in the real estate and insurance industries and was a veteran of both world wars, having served in the South Pacific during World War II. He was born in Minneapolis, Kansas on Jan. 18, 1888. Kresky was survived by his wife, two daughters, a son and 12 grandchildren.

• Seven people were hurt in car “mishaps” in Lewis County over the weekend of Oct. 6 and 7. Among those hurt was a 2 ½ year old body who fell from his parents car while it was moving at nearly 50 miles per hour. The boy, John Suttle, was taken to St. Helen Hospital at 5:10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6 with “severe head injuries and cuts and bruises,” The Chronicle reported. While John, the son of “Mr. and Mrs. John Suttle” of Olympia, had previously been reported as being in serious condition, by Monday his condition was listed as being fair.

• Despite heavy rainfall, the Seattle World’s Fair saw its second highest weekend attendance on Oct. 6 and 7. A total of 179,068 people attended, including a record breaking 110,649 people on Saturday, Oct. 6. The record for weekend attendance was set on Sept. 15 and 16 when 180,750 people went to the fair. Sept. 15 was also the previous record for one-day attendance when 106,860 people came to the fair. The crowds brought the total attendance for the fair up to 8,694,621 people, within striking distance of the 9,000,000 person goal. The fair was scheduled to close Oct. 21.

• Edla Johnson died in a Centralia hospital on Saturday, Oct. 6. The Chronicle did not specify where the 93 year old had lived before she died. She was born on June 8, 1869 in Finland. She was survived by two sons, two daughters and 10 grandchildren.

• A four bedroom “large older house” in Chehalis was listed in The Chronicle for $12,950. The house included a large kitchen with a breakfast bar, a separate dining room and an entry hall with wall-to-wall carpeting.