in 1884, Harry Truman was in many ways a typical child of
his time. He was taught the importance of honesty and hard
work at a young age. Traditional values and his Southern
roots shaped his views of the world around him. He inherited
his family's frontier spirit of self-reliance and their
prejudices. However, young Harry was unusually bright and
curious, and his strong work ethic extended to his education.
His appetite for reading, his fascination with history,
and his love of music gave him glimpses of a world beyond
his boyhood home.
Truman's grandparents came to Missouri from Shelby County,
Kentucky. They passed down a legacy of integrity, independence,
and hard work. Harry said that his grandfather, Solomon
Young,"could do anything he set his mind to, and mostly
he did." His family was of English, Scots-Irish, French
and German origin.
a little of everything. If you shook the family tree anything
might fall out."
Love of Music
an early age, Harry Truman loved music. A serious piano
student, he practiced diligently, with typical self-discipline,
on the family's upright Kimball. He was thrilled when his
arranged for him to meet the great concert pianist Ignace
Paderewski. He worked as an usher at
Kansas City theaters to gain free access to performances,
including one that was to have special meaning in his life,
the musical comedy, "The Girl from Utah".
Men and Famous Women
were Harry's windows to the world. His mother and teachers
instilled in him an early passion for learning. Reading
was also a safe way to have adventures without breaking
his glasses, an expensive item for this family of modest
means. While most children in town stopped going to school
after seventh grade, Harry went on to complete high school.
Throughout his life, Harry was fascinated with history.
"Reading history, to me, was far more than a romantic
adventure. It was solid instruction and wise teaching which
I somehow felt that I wanted and needed."
For several months the fourteen-year-old Harry worked at
J.H. Clinton's Drug Store on the
Independence town square.
I can remember the first $3.00 I received for working a
week-seven days from seven o'clock until school time and
from four o'clock until ten at night, all day Saturday and
Sunday. I had to wipe off bottles, mop the floor every morning,
make ice cream for sodas, and wait on the customers
That three silver dollars looked like three million and
meant a lot more. I bought a present for Mamma and tried
to give the rest of it to my dad and he wouldn't take it.
It was as I say a great day all around when I got that $3.00.
I've never had as much or as big a payday since."