|The Harry S Truman Library and Museum|
Here is the envelope, which I think is interesting, and the letter:
|Envelope: note that under the stamps I have carefully printed, "Any extra postage charge to receiver."|
|My letter to my brother, Stewart, dated April 15, 1945|
Thus began my life under the administration of Harry S Truman, who was President through my junior high years, high school years, and until I was a sophomore in college. Formative years. So, this visit to the Truman Library was a revisiting of the historical context of my teen-age years. It was not disappointing. One floor was devoted to a presentation of Truman's life, chronologically ordered, but another floor was devoted to the era in which he was President, and to the incredible number of crises he had to deal with. It is mind-boggling when you think of it: dropping the atomic bomb to end WWII, the Potsdam Conference with Churchill and Stalin to arrange for the post-war era; the post-war era itself with the return of hundreds of thousands of veterans, resultant unemployment, housing shortages, and the shift to a civilian economy; the racial integration of the military; the beginning of the Cold War; the Berlin airlift; the invasion of South Korea by the Communist North Korean state, the Korean War itself and the firing of General MacArthur who wanted to bomb China and who was insubordinate to the President, the Marshall Plan to reconstruct Europe, the formation of NATO - on it goes. When Truman took office in 1945, many saw him as a party hack who had been a toady to Boss Pendergast in Kansas City and not up to the job. Today he is widely regarded as having been a very good President, maybe one of the best. A steady hand on the tiller of the ship of state, unflappable, cautious but also decisive. Famous for saying, "The buck stops here:" and "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Not popular in his time - 30% approval ratings - but well regarded decades later. So it goes for Presidents.
|Harry S Truman|
|The Atomic Bomb Debate|
I also found it quite fascinating that in 1949, Truman introduced to the Congress a National Health Plan, which was shot down by the Republicans and brought this response from the AMA - deja vu all over again:
|AMA diatribe against Truman's National Health Plan - branded as "Socialized medicine."|
There were of course lighter things that were still fascinating, like the reconstruction of the Oval Office, in its exact proportions and furnishings in Truman's time, which was really neat to stand in:
|The President's desk in the Oval Office|
|Truman often posed with guests by this globe|
And more trivial still but still appealing, the dinner service at the White House introduced by Harry and Bess Truman in 1951 . . .
|White House table service|
. . . and since I'm a sucker for old cars, I loved the Truman's Chrysler which reminded me of the Plymouth I drove the summer of 1949 when I worked as a chauffeur for Dan Umbenhauer, a glove salesman for the Grinnell Glove Company and member of my father's church in Anamosa. Now there was a job for a sixteen-year-old!!
|The Truman's car|
|The Opening of the West by Thomas Hart Benton|