Thursday, March 6, 2014

Harry S Truman

DAY THIRTEEN: Our stay at the motel was restful for me. Ellen went out and brought in food, checked out a couple of stores, tried to find a nearby laundromat (to no avail) while I lay in bed blogging, reading, watchimg TV. We watched a Netflix movie, The Last Quartet, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener, et al, and it was good. It was especially good if you liked listening to the Beethoven String Quartet, Opus 131 (which we do), but we wondered how the public responded to the film. Anyway, we didn't feel in any particular hurry. Wednesday a.m., we got going slowly, Ellen packed the car (something I usually do), and we headed for Pittsburg, KS. It was a nice ride. The fields were bare. US 54 was straight and rolling, like an Iowa highway. The temperature was mild - in the 40's. After sub-zero, it felt warm. At about 3:30pm or so we found ourselves in Lamar, MO, the birthplace of Harry S Truman. You may be thinking - "Larry left out the period after the S."  Wrong. Truman did not have a middle name. He gave himself a middle initial when he got into public life because he thought it sounded more dignified. And he usually (not always) did not use the period. I didn't know that. When I get home, I'm going to have to check out a letter that I have from Truman, and see if he used the period. Yes!  I have a letter from Truman! When I was a student at Drury College, in Springfield, MO, I was president of the campus Student Christian Association, and after Truman was defeated by Eisenhower in 1952, and had gone home to Independence, MO, I wrote him, inviting him to come to the Drury campus to speak. I no longer remember what I asked him to speak about. I have his letter which graciously declines the invitation, and I think he signed it himself.

Truman's parents moved to Lamar from Independence, MO in 1882. Truman was born in a little farmhouse there in a downstairs bedroom on May 8, 1884. His family moved back to Independence 11 months later. So Lamar does not have a huge claim on him, and Independence is where the Truman home, Library, etc., are located, a National Historic Site. But Missouri maintains his birthplace as a State Historic Site, and it was very nice. The house is 20 x 28, with a living room, small bedroom, kitchen, and hired man's bedroom off the kitchen downstairs, and two small bedrooms under the eaves upstairs. The original Truman furnishings have not survived, but period furniture has been assembled for it and it is sweet. The quilts on the bed were especially nice. Most of all, the little visitors' center had a good selection of postcards which Ellen is always eager to find. We got in just under the wire - they closed at 4pm, had a little tour, bought cards, and were on our way into Kansas and to Pittsburg.

Harry S Truman birthplace

The birth bedroom


Upstairs  bed with lovely quilt

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