Long ago, while serving as an Air Force officer, the government sent me to a week-long course in Washington, D.C. I had not been to our nation’s capital since I was little, and while I was there I wanted to do some sightseeing.
And of all the sights to see, the one I wanted to see most was the White House. I’d always been interested in American history, and this was my chance to tour the home of our Presidents.
I arose early Saturday morning, found my way from Andrews Air Force Base into the City, and spent the next two hours in the bitter cold standing in line outside the White House. At last, it was my group’s turn to enter the executive mansion.
As we meandered through the building, I marveled at each room, each painting, and each document on display. I imagined Lincoln preparing the Emancipation Proclamation and FDR monitoring the situation at Pearl Harbor. Then, to my horror, I noticed the group had left me behind. I was wandering through the White House unescorted.
Just then I heard a whisper. “Psssst.” I didn’t see anyone, but as I turned the corner I came face to face with two huge Dutch doors — the kind you usually find in a barn. Then the upper doors popped open and a big white horse stuck his head through. “Hello,” he bellowed, “I’m Mister Ed.”
You can imagine my surprise. The last thing I had expected was to find a horse living just outside the oval office. I couldn’t believe it.
“Horses can’t talk,” I said.
“Oh brother,” he snorted. “A horse is a horse, is that it?”
“Of course,” I said.
“Unless of course, you go right to the source, the famous Mister Ed.”
“You’re not Mister Ed,” I said.
“Oh, I’m not Mister Ed, huh? Look who thinks he’s an expert on Mister Ed.”
“Nobody’s seen Mister Ed in nearly thirty years,” I pointed out.
“I’ve been busy, sonny.”
“I don’t have time to argue with you; I must get back to my group so I don’t miss the tour.”
“Hold your horses! Sit a spell. I’ll tell you the real story of what’s happened in the White House during the past thirty years.” Could this be happening? Could this be the long-lost Mister Ed? Or had the Air Force given me mind-altering drugs? If I could pass the test, the Air Force might finally transfer me from Nebraska. I sat down.
“Mister Ed,” I asked, “how did you end up in the White House? Why did you leave television?”
“It all started with JFK,” he snorted. “Ask not what your country can do for you and all that.”
“So you left TV to come to Washington?”
“He wanted me as an advisor. We used to discuss foreign policy while Caroline rode on my back.”
“Was he a good President?”
“He was okay.”
“Sometimes he just wouldn’t listen. I warned him about that Bay of Pigs…”
“He decided to put a man on the moon,” I pointed out.
“Ha! That was my idea too. ‘Put a horse on the moon,’ I said, ‘you’ll be a hero.'”
“What were your last words to him?”
“Jack,” I said, “don’t go to Dallas; let Lyndon handle Texas.”
“Why didn’t return to TV after that?”
“LBJ asked me to stay on.”
“What was he like?”
“Stubborn as a mule.”
“I suppose you told him to stay out of Vietnam?”
“You bet your spurs I did,” said the horse as he shook his massive head from side to side, “but he just wouldn’t listen.”
“Why didn’t you leave after LBJ left office?”
“Are you kidding? I still remember Lyndon’s last words to me. ‘Ed’,” he said, ‘I want you to watch Nixon like a hawk.'”
“Some people think Nixon was one of best Presidents when it comes to foreign policy,” I said.
“I taught him everything he knew,” Ed snorted. “Who do you think told him to go to China? Who do you think got him to finally end the Vietnam war?”
“It was me,” the horse insisted. “I knew I wouldn’t get any sleep until that darn war ended.”
“Did you have any role in Watergate?” I asked.
“Did I have any role in Watergate?” he laughed. “Who do think Deep Throat really was?”
“You could have left after Nixon resigned,” I said.
“No, President Ford needed me too much.”
“Was he a nice man?”
“Nice, but not real bright. Reminded me a lot of Wilbur.”
“What about Jimmy Carter?”
“That southern President.”
“Oh, yeah. I’d forgotten about him.”
“Did you like him?”
“Hee, hee, hee,” the horse snickered. “Yeah, I liked him. Knew how to care for a horse.”
“What about our current President, President Reagan?”
“Now, there’s a smart man — lets me make all the decisions.”
“What about the Iran/Contra scandal?”
“Never would’ve happened if he’d have put Ollie North in charge of the base laundry at Camp Pendleton as I’d suggested.”
Well, I talked with the horse for more than an hour and he certainly seemed to possess a vast knowledge of both foreign and domestic issues. I still thought it might be some kind of Air Force trick, but it occurred to me that just maybe I really was talking with the famous Mister Ed. And just maybe he had been advising Presidents for thirty years. I had to cover all the bases.
“Mister Ed?” I asked humbly.
“Yeah, what is it?
“Do you think you could get the Air Force to transfer me to someplace warmer than Nebraska?”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Call it a coincidence if you like, but two weeks after this incident the Air Force transferred me to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.