Buffalo, 1913: Ike Slept Here

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It’s the kind of story that plays out even today, more than a hundred years later.

You’re a college kid getting ready to make the couple-hour trip home for Christmas, when you realize one of your football teammates isn’t going to be able to make the two day trip back home to be with his family—so you invite him home, knowing there’s always extra room at the table.

West Point football, mid-1910s.

A Buffalo version of this story happened in 1913 when Louis Byrne, a cadet and football player at West Point, invited his fellow cadet and football teammate Ike—Yes, that Ike– home for Christmas.

Byrne’s late father was Col. John Byrne—a former Buffalo Police Commissioner and Commandant of the Pan American Expo Police Force. As a somewhat prominent Buffalo family, their comings and goings were fodder for the society pages of the newspapers.

Col. John Byrne being driven around the Pan-Am Grounds.

Cadet Dwight D. Eisenhower’s visit to the Byrne residence on Summit Avenue in the Parkside neighborhood was written up in both The Buffalo Evening News and the Buffalo Morning Express.

Buffalo Evening News Society Page, 1913

Eisenhower’s next visit to Buffalo came 39 years later, when then-General Eisenhower made a speech in the run up to his election as President in 1952.

President Eisenhower in a Packard convertible at the Broadway Fillmore intersection, 1952.

In his later years, one of Byrne’s favorite stories involved bossing Eisenhower around at West Point. A version of the story even made a nationally distributed Associated Press article.

Louis T. Byrne was an upperclassman at West Point in 1914, and one day was giving a plebe a “going over.”

“I suppose you expect to become a general?” Byrnes asked.

“Yes, sir I do, sir,” replied Dwight D. Eisenhower, the plebe.

You can visit the House where Ike stayed… by the way… on this weekend’s Parkside Tour of Homes— It was later owned by Mathias Hens of Hens & Kelly fame.

More on the Tour of Homes: www.parksidebuffalo.org

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.