• Share
  • Read Later

(7 of 8)

On election day, when the floor of the Commodore Hotel headquarters was littered with bitten fingernails, Sherman and Rachel Adams slipped quietly away and went sightseeing at the Bronx Zoo. That night Sinclair Weeks, later to become Commerce Secretary, gallantly remarked on Rachel's fresh outdoor complexion. "We've been to the zoo to see all the animals," she explained. "Ah," said Weeks, "quite a change from the campaign." Replied Rachel: "Not so much."

"Yeah, Go Ahead." With the campaign over, President-elect Eisenhower wasted no time in saying to Adams: "I have been thinking this over. You had better come down with me to the White House. You can be there at my right hand." In his rented home in Washington's Rock Creek Park, Adams nowadays arises even earlier than he did before the President's illness. His first morning home from Denver in November, he was up at 5:45. "I would think we were back logging again," said drowsy Rachel Adams. Her husband, already wide-awake, routed her from bed, took her by the arm and led her over to a window, through which the first streaks of light could be seen. "Now, Plum," he said, "you see it's the loveliest part of the day."

Once downstairs, the hi-fi set goes on, and Adams reads the morning papers while Rachel prepares breakfast (fruit, two eggs and—he thinks—Sanka). He is at the White House desk, emblazoned with the Seal of the President of the U.S., by 7:30, plunging deep into the stack of papers that never seems to diminish. The rest of the day is accurately crowded: conferences, sometimes as many as three at a time, with Adams circulating among them; a parade of visitors; dozens of telephone calls; and, always, papers and more papers. Generally, Adams takes time out only to have lunch in the staff dining room, but occasionally, when the pace becomes too breakneck, he will put on his coat and hat and simply disappear from the White House for a couple of hours.

Returning from one of these excursions recently, Adams came racing through the White House lobby just in time to keep an appointment with a visitor who was already waiting in the anteroom. Spotting the caller, Adams motioned toward his office with the crook of a finger and said: "In." Inside, Adams pointed and said: "Chair." The visitor sat down near the desk. Hat and coat still on, Adams opened several envelopes marked "Confidential." He pressed a buzzer and summoned an assistant staff secretary. Adams handed the aide a paper and ordered: "Send this to Gettysburg . . . Seems self-explanatory—but add any necessary comment." A telephone rang. Adams picked it up. "That's right," he said. "Yeah ... Let's try it." He hung up (Adams considers the words hello and goodbye to be the sheerest waste of time). Next, Adams left his office to talk with his secretaries in an adjoining room. He returned, minus his hat and coat, in about ten minutes, sat down, turned to the visitor, and said: "Yeah, go ahead."

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8