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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Truman Territory

Did I say we love Missouri? Well, not Branson, but everything else so far this trip. I remember some of it from when I used to visit relatives around Hannibal when I was a kid, but Joyce hadn't seen anything except St. Louis. (Ick) Except for those pesky tornados, the climate is mild almost all year, and they can and do grow anything. Right now as spring has just arrived, it's pretty spectacular. The countryside is filled with all these trees and bushes budding in a thousand shades of green on rolling hills and along scores of creeks and rivers.

Which is why Harry Truman was so proud of Missouri, and never wanted to live anywhere but Independence. You can't really understand all that unless you come here. Of course, Harry died in 1972 and a lot about Independence has changed since then. However, luckily, for the 1976 Bicentennial, the townspeople got the idea that preserving it would be a good thing, so they managed to snatch a lot of it away from progress and it looks very like it once did.

The city has of course sprawled out to the south, so it's like two separate places. Downtown and the Truman library and home are one part and then there's where modern life goes on.

The day we were there, the preserved downtown was pretty dead, except for knots of homeless people standing around the many churches. There's a tour just of the religious locations, and we skipped that. Apparently not a lot of interest in Truman at the moment, which is too bad. Lack of teaching history has cost people the pleasure of learning about Harry and the bitch he was married to. Anyway, we took the walking tour, went through their house, and did the library and museum, and came away liking him better and hating her worse. Bess was a mean-spirited old woman when she was twelve years old. If ever anyone needed Prozac, she did. She made him miserable for the 16 years he served as Senator, Vice President and President. She basically abandoned him. Fortunately Margaret loved Washington, and spent a lot of time with him. They were very close.

You should really see the house. You just park on the street and go in, eight at a time. They got back to it in 1953 and changed nothing since, and the Parks Service has kept it the same.

The library has a wonderful setting and is just beautiful. No one around but us to enjoy it.

Anyway, the whole place is as unpretentious as he was. Just not the sort of place you would associate with a leader of a major world power. To Harry, which is how everyone refers to him, it was just another job to be done to the best of his ability. That's why we're wild about him.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, disagree with you on St. Louis but agree with you on Branson! Woohoo. Your travels sound like SO much fun!