Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Perlie' & Ike


Perle Skirvin Mesta (1889-1975) was the first fully accredited United States ambassador to Luxembourg.  An early supporter and favorite of President Truman, he rewarded her with the ambassadorial appointment -- at the time, she was only the third women to hold an ambassadorship.  She served from 1949 to 1953.



Perle Mesta to Dwight Eisenhower

United States Legation

February 3, 1951

4 F  UPU letter rate + 6 F (5-10 g) airmail supplement

During Perle Mesta's tenure as ambassador to Luxembourg, then-General Dwight Eisenhower was a frequent visitor to the Grand Duchy.  Ike liked to affectionately refer to Ambassador Mesta as "Perlie."  In her autobiography Perle -- My Story published in 1960, she writes at pp. 170-171:

When I heard in December, 1950, that General Eisenhower was going back on actie duty to lead the organization of NATO military forces, the news was doubly welcome.  Not only was this wonderful for Luxembourg and all of Europe, which had such confidence in its wartime hero, but I personally was glad because it meant I would be seeing more of Ike and Mamie. 

Their first trip to Luxembourg was early in January, 1951, when Ike made a formal call on the Grand Duchess.  I went with him to the palace, as did General Alfred Gruenther ...

Two weeks later, Ike and Mamie returned for a weekend and I gave a small party for them at the legation.  We were honored by the attendance of the Royal Consort, Prince Felix, who made on of his rare appearances at a party outside the palace.  Prime Minister Dupong, Foreign Minister and Madame Bech, Grand Marshal of the Court and Madame Loesch, General Gruenther, Anthony Drexel Biddle, and Douglas MacArthur II were among the other guests at the dinner.


Ike and Mamie came to Luxembourg frequently.  Much as I'd like to think it was just to see me, I'm certain there were two other important considerations -- the kitchen at the legation, where Ike could concoct his culinary specialities, and the Luxembourg golf course, one of the best in Europe.

The cover shown here was posted shortly after the Eisenhower visits Mesta describes in the quoted text from her autobiography.  It was sent to '60 Morningside Drive, New York,' which was President Eisenhower's New York residence while he was president of Columbia University.  The Legation's albino embossed corner card appears at the upper left, with the return address on the envelope flap that of 'Mrs. Perle Mesta/American Minister to Luxembourg/American Legation/Luxembourg.'


Perle Mesta with then-General Eisenhower and Luxembourg Foreign Minister Bech inspecting the World War I war memorial in Luxembourg City

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