Thursday, January 1, 2009
Dwight Eisenhower was president and Ruiz Cortines was president of Mexico. They were both coming to McAllen, Texas, to dedicate Falcon Dam on the Rio Grande River. Ike stayed with Allan Shivers, who was governor of Texas and who had a ranch nearby. There is a custom in Mexico that when you meet someone that you embrace them, known as the Abrazzo. Allan Shivers briefed Ike on this custom and Ike said it was "silly." We all gathered at the new dam and Ruiz Cortines and Ike were in the middle of the dam. Down below was about 50 Mexican reporters and photographers and on our side was about 100 reporters and photographers. The Mexican journalists wanted to get a picture of Ike embracing Cortines. Ike stiffly shook hands with Cortines. The Mexican journalists began to chant "abrazzo abrazzo." Ike ignored them. Then they began to hiss loudly "abrazzo." Ike turned pink with anger but he finally relented and gave Ruiz a big hug. To say that Ike was stubborn was understatement.