Truman loved to travel. He had driven extensively around
the country by car during his political career. Campaigning
in 1948, he criss-crossed the nation in the Ferdinand
Magellan, the Presidential railroad car. Truman also
had a modern advantage: he was the first President to fly
regularly. Flying made it easier to get away from Washington.
Truman performed his Presidential duties from his home in
Independence, and he also took refuge at the Key West Naval
Station, where he could work in more relaxed surroundings.
Closer to Washington, Truman also escaped the pressures
of the White House aboard the Presidential yacht, the USS
Truman inherited the use of the Presidential yacht USS
Williamsburg when he took office. For a Missouri man
of limited means, pleasure cruising was a new experience,
but Truman quickly came to appreciate its serenity. He relaxed
on short Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay cruises and on
longer cruises along the Eastern Seaboard. He sometimes
traveled alone or with a skeleton staff; other times he
entertained friends and Cabinet members, often passing evenings
playing "games of chance."
The Missouri White House
When he wanted to get away from Washington, Truman often
spent time at his home in Independence. He was happy to
retreat to the town of his youth, taking comfort in the
familiar surroundings of 219 North Delaware, which reporters
sometimes called the "Summer White House." Bess
made frequent and sometimes lengthy visits home to spend
time with her mother and to escape the Washington merry-go-round.
When Truman joined his family he frequently worked from
a suite of rooms in the Muehlebach Hotel in downtown Kansas
favorite Truman getaway was the "Little White House"
at Key West Naval Station in Florida. It was an ideal place
to escape the pressures of Washington. He could fish, enjoy
the sun, play poker, and get plenty of rest. Truman liked
it so well that he spent 175 days there during his nearly
eight years as president.
Key West March 15, 1947
am getting some much needed rest and already feel and
look much better. Have been going to bed at eleven o'clock
and getting up at seven or eight, so you see I am really