When Alvarado Middle School succumbed to fire in 1980, one of the several losses was the school’s library. At that time, a group called the Friends of School Libraries of Texas sent boxes of books to help replenish the library once the school re-opened.
A book that was in the donated collection recently surfaced in the Alvarado Junior High library and an inscription on the inside cover of the book left AJH staff members wondering if they had stumbled upon a piece of history.
The inscription reads:
“For General Ike — May we all find inspiration now to ‘stand fast’ as they did at Valley Forge in 1777. — — 1950 is our new crisis — we follow your leadership now, as our forbearers followed G. Washington. Your sincere friend, Ken Wells”
The inscription is written for Dwight D. Eisenhower, who became the 34th president of the United States in 1953 and is thought to be the book’s original owner. Eisenhower served as chairman on Wells’ Freedoms Foundation from its inception in 1949 until his death in 1969.
In 1950, when the inscription was apparently written, Eisenhower was preparing to take over as the first supreme commander of NATO.
“All books are a treasure, but it appears this book has turned out to be a wonderful gift too,” AJH principal Melodye Brooks said.
Alvarado ISD librarian Susan Mauldin and AJH library aide Glenda Phillips came across the book when they were weeding out books from the school’s current collection.
The school is using stimulus money to update its library and the book “Valley Forge: 24 December 1777” caught their eye. After opening the book and noticing its 1946 copyright, they saw the inscription.
“It was a real treat to stumble across this treasure in the AJH library,” Mauldin said. “Upon reading the inscription I immediately sat down to research the details. I am a librarian after all.
“When the facts bore out that the book probably belonged to Dwight D. Eisenhower, I was pleasantly surprised,” she said. “I have always found old books interesting, but it was an odd feeling to know that I was holding a book in my hands that President Eisenhower once held in his. It was certainly a unique experience.”