Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
Opened November, 1992
Oral History Interview with
JOHNSON: Mr. Farrington, I'm going to begin by asking you to tell me where and when you were born and what your parents names are.
FARRINGTON: I was born here in Springfield, Missouri on December 7, 1912. That's the day that will "live in infamy" as you will recall President Roosevelt saying [in 1941] about Pearl Harbor Day. I was born here in Springfield. My father is John S. Farrington, and my mother is Blanche McCann Farrington. I've lived here all my life except the times I've been called out.
JOHNSON: Now, your father John S., did he immigrate into this area?
FARRINGTON: Yes, he did. He was born in Howard County, Missouri, in Fayette. The family place up there was just on the edge of Fayette, and they had a farm about
six miles out of Fayette. He was born in Howard County, and he went to school there. Then, he left and went to Washington University Law School, and graduated there.
JOHNSON: In St. Louis.
FARRINGTON: In St. Louis. He had an uncle who was a lawyer here, named MacDonald Sebree. There are some Sebrees in Kansas City. Frank Sebree is a lawyer there now. MacDonald Sebree, "Mac" Sebree, practiced law here and that's how my father came to Springfield, in 1898.
JOHNSON: Because of this uncle.
FARRINGTON: Yes, because this uncle offered him an opportunity to come into his office.
JOHNSON: Were both sides of your family southern in orientation, or background?
FARRINGTON: Yes sir.
JOHNSON: Is that one of the reasons they were Democrat then?
FARRINGTON: I think that had something to do with it, of course, but my father had very strong feelings about the two parties. He felt the Democratic party was more
humane and more close to the people. [See Appendix I to this transcript for an obituary of John S.Farrington]
JOHNSON: He would have been a William Jennings Bryan type of Democrat?
FARRINGTON: I think so. He was very fond of Teddy Roosevelt, however, but not because Teddy was a Republican. He [John S. Farrington] ran for the Court of Appeals, Springfield Court of Appeals, which is now the Southern District of the Court of Appeals for the state. That court sat here, and still does. He ran for that office in 1912. He ran as a Democrat, and this Southern District is, as you are probably aware, heavily Republican. Because of Teddy Roosevelt and the Bull Moose split in 1912, he was elected. He served on the Court for twelve years, and then when he ran again in 1924 it was "back to normalcy."
JOHNSON: Back to Republican?
FARRINGTON: Yes. He started practicing law again.
JOHNSON: Was he by himself or was he part of a partnership when he went back into law practice?
FARRINGTON: He became a partner with a man named Arthur M. Curtis.
JOHNSON: Well, he was Republican, wasn't he?
FARRINGTON: That's right. While my father was a strong Democrat, Arthur was the Republican County Chairman. They got along very well. They had a rule and they stuck by it, when they came into their office, no politics. They'd get out and campaign and they'd make remarks about each other, and they'd criticize the Republicans and they'd criticize Arthur, and Arthur would criticize him. Then they would come back to the office and were just as amiable as they could be. They would never talk politics in the office.
Now, I'm partnered with two of Arthur's sons.
JOHNSON: Is that right.
FARRINGTON: Jack and E.C.
JOHNSON: Are they still Republicans?
FARRINGTON: They're still Republican and I'm still a Democrat. We've got the same rule. We don't discuss politics. I know they're Republican. In fact, Jack was a state senator down here for a dozen years. They know I'm a Democrat. We get along fine; we don't argue.
JOHNSON: A family tradition I guess.
FARRINGTON: We don't argue about politics. We know that
neither one of us is subject to change in that respect, and we keep our privacy in that regard.
JOHNSON: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
FARRINGTON: Not living anymore. I had three brothers and a sister.
JOHNSON: Are you the oldest, youngest, the middle?
FARRINGTON: I'm the youngest.
JOHNSON: I see. You're the only one that went into law?
FARRINGTON: No. I had a brother named Charles that went into law and he went to California. He practiced law out there and died in 1983, in the Los Angeles area.
JOHNSON: So you have been practicing law here in Springfield since graduation from law school?
FARRINGTON: I graduated in 1935. I was admitted to the bar in 1934. I took the exam at the end of my second year and was fortunate enough to pass it.
JOHNSON: To back up just a little bit, I suppose you were educated in the public schools here in Springfield.
FARRINGTON: Yes sir.
JOHNSON: You went to law school where?
FARRINGTON: At the University of Missouri at Columbia.
JOHNSON: And after two years you took the Bar exam and passed it, but you still had one year of classes to go.
FARRINGTON: I had it a little bit easier. I felt a little bit more comfortable the last year. When the professor would jump on me, like they did everybody, I would leave that room feeling, well, I don't have to put up with this much longer.
JOHNSON: He was speaking to a lawyer.
FARRINGTON: That's right.
One of them one time said, "Well, you may have a license, but you're not a lawyer yet." I knew what he meant after I got out.
JOHNSON: So that was . . .
FARRINGTON: I graduated in '35. Came in here in Springfield in '35 and went to work for my father and Mr. Curtis.
JOHNSON: Of course, 1936 was a very important year politically because of the Landon-Roosevelt campaign. Did you get involved at all in that 1936 campaign?
FARRINGTON: Not a great deal in 1936; however in 1938 I ran for county committeeman in my ward. At that time it hadn't been broken down into precincts here, but they had wards. I was elected county committeeman in the
JOHNSON: How about your father? He had become active in partisan politics here locally, I'm sure.
FARRINGTON: A long time.
JOHNSON: Was he on the County Committee before you?
FARRINGTON: No, not that I know of. I don't think he was ever chairman.
JOHNSON: His name does appear, I think, on some letterhead somewhere back there in the '30s.
FARRINGTON: Did it appear that he was on the County Committee then?
JOHNSON: Well, I'm trying to recall. I have some letterhead here.
FARRINGTON: He was what they called Chairman of the Executive Committee, but he wasn't a member of the County Committee. Fred Moon was the chairman, and these were appointive people that were on the Executive Committee. My father wasn't on the County Committee, John McCormack wasn't, and Tom Watkins wasn't. Tom Watkins was a banker here.
JOHNSON: This is letterhead from 1940. You father was chairman of the Executive Committee.
FARRINGTON: Yes sir.
JOHNSON: And I think you're listed as . . .
JOHNSON: You were listed as chairman of the Executive Committee on some letterhead in 1948. So you seemed to have stepped into his shoes. Mrs. Harry Bissett was co-chairman in '48.
JOHNSON: Your father didn't necessarily go out and canvas or poll wards or precincts for the party?
FARRINGTON: I doubt if he did. He had gotten off of the court in 1925, the beginning of 1925, and he would have been 50 years old at that time.
JOHNSON: Was he involved in that Greenwade-Dickey-Wear dispute?
FARRINGTON: Well, he was on the same side as Wear and Dickey. Greenwade was the other fellow, and he was more successful.
JOHNSON: Greenwade was?
FARRINGTON: Didn't he get to be postmaster?
JOHNSON: Well, possibly. I think Champ Clark was not a
friend of Greenwade. I suppose your father was a close friend of Sam Wear?
FARRINGTON: Yes, Sam, and Hyram "Diggie" Chinn.
JOHNSON: And there was another person here that was very active with Truman.
FARRINGTON: Ernest Scholten?
FARRINGTON: He was presiding judge of the county court. I'll tell you an interesting thing about that. In Truman's 1940 campaign I was secretary of the Democratic County Committee. I got married in 1938 and moved out of the ward. We rented a house in another part of the town, outside the 12th Ward. You had to resign if you didn't live in the ward. Your method of resignation was to write a letter to the Governor. The Governor then would appoint your successor. That's kind of strange but that's the way the law read at that time.
So I wrote the letter to the Governor; Lloyd Stark was the Governor then. I informed him of my resignation by reason of leaving the ward. There was a fellow named Claude Smith who lived in the 12th Ward. He ran a plastering business. He didn't have any friendly connections with most of the so-called
Democratic leaders. I don't know how he got the Governor's attention, but he was appointed to succeed me. Sam Trimble may be a name that you run on to. He was a very active Democrat. He lived across the street. Trimble was very strong for Stark and had a lot of influence down in Webster County, right to the east of Marshfield. He came from Seymour and he carried weight down there. If you were a banker in those days, the people were either friendly to you because they were needing money, or friendly because they owed money.
So, before the primary election in 1940, they started needling him. They asked him if he knew anything about Stark appointing Claude Smith to succeed me in that campaign. He said no, he had never heard of it. They said, "Well, you must be awful close to the Governor. You can't even say who is going to be appointed committeeman in your own ward." They kept needling him and needling him, and they said, "Hell, the trouble with you is that you're for the wrong man. Truman is a loyal man to his friends and he expects loyalty." They kept after him. He had supported Stark. In fact, Stark used to visit him in his house frequently. They got him [Trimble] weaned away from Governor Stark and over to Truman. He went into that campaign in '40 with a vengeance. He went over to
Webster County and spent quite a little money. Truman came out of there with something like a 700 majority, and that wasn't a very big county. It was because of Sam Trimble switching from Stark to Truman. I think Truman won that nomination by something like 7,000 statewide. It was close.
JOHNSON: He was up for reelection. If we can go back, you mentioned that you were active in the '36 campaign, the Roosevelt-Landon. Could you tell me what you did in that campaign?
FARRINGTON: I didn't do a great deal. I think I served in the ward out at this Rountree School, if I recall. We did some polling. On election day I think I was a judge, either on primary or general election day-- probably primary. I was a ward judge.
JOHNSON: In '32 and '36 the county voted Democrat. They were for Roosevelt, and of course in '38 there were Congressional and Senatorial elections in which there was a little bit of a setback for some of the New Deal Senators and Congressmen who were up for reelection. Do you recall anything about the '38 election having any significance here in the area? How about your member of Congress? Who was representing this district in Congress at the time?
FARRINGTON: A fellow named Reuben T. Wood.
JOHNSON: Oh, yes, a labor . . .
FARRINGTON: Labor candidate. You know, they elected a Congressman-at-large for one or two elections, I don't recall exactly.
JOHNSON: Back in the early thirties?
FARRINGTON: Yes. There was a fellow named Jim Ruffin. He got in on that at-large race. He lived here in Springfield. He was a lawyer. Then Rube Wood was a labor leader and he got in. I don't know whether he was in for one or two terms. And then he got beat.
JOHNSON: How many terms?
FARRINGTON: He either got beat in '38 or '40.
JOHNSON: Yes, in '40 he was defeated.
FARRINGTON: In '40, by a fellow named Bennett.
JOHNSON: Phil Bennett?
FARRINGTON: Phil Bennett, who had been Lieutenant Governor. He came from Buffalo up here.
JOHNSON: On that '40 campaign, we need to get into that because you have some rather strong recollections of that. You were telling me earlier about some
experiences there in that '40 campaign and being a chauffeur I guess. So if you want to talk about that.
FARRINGTON: We opened up a Democrat headquarters over here on Boonville Street right across from the Court House, catty-corner across from the Court House. There was a good, sizeable building there. I was the secretary. It was an elective job. You didn't have to be a member of the committee, but a fellow resigned where I was living so I could get on the committee. I think you did have to be a member of the committee, as I recall, that's right. I forget who resigned, who was a member, and I succeeded him so I could serve. Anyway, I was secretary and I was in charge of the campaign headquarters over there. One day in the middle of October, I remember Senator Truman walked in.
JOHNSON: Was this the first time that you had met Harry Truman?
FARRINGTON: No. No, I had met him, but I'm not sure when was the first time. He visited around. He would go to the offices of his friends, of course. He would come to our office; we had an office. My father and Mr. Curtis had an office on the tenth floor of the Landers Building. I was then employed there, working as a lawyer there. I would expect that that was when I met him. It was probably in his visits around . . .
JOHNSON: How about Jackson Day dinners?
FARRINGTON: I would have seen him then.
JOHNSON: You went to all of the Jackson Day dinners?
FARRINGTON: Yes, sir.
JOHNSON: Did Truman regularly come down for the Jackson Day dinners to Springfield?
FARRINGTON: He did, pretty attentively.
JOHNSON: So your first clear recollections of meeting or working with him was what, in 1940? That's when you first saw him politicking?
FARRINGTON: I'd say yes. I'd say we were both involved in the same effort.
JOHNSON: Okay. In 1940.
FARRINGTON: In 1940. He walked in the headquarters that day and I went over and shook hands with him and identified myself to him again. We were talking. I don't know what the conversation was, but he wanted to do a little campaigning out in the county and he asked if somebody could take him out and show him around. I said yes, I would do it.
He came in by himself. Of course, nobody thought anything about that, but when you compare it to the way
Senators travel now. They've got this advance man and that advance man, and they call ahead and make sure he's got a car, this, that, and the other thing.
JOHNSON: A little less formal in the old days.
FARRINGTON: Yes. Very informal. Anyway, we drove out to a little town out here west of town called Republic. That's ten miles out of town. He said he wanted to do a little campaigning out there, and I told him that was a pretty heavy Republican district. But he said, "It doesn't make any difference." He asked if I could help him and I told him I didn't know too many people, but I knew some out there. He said, "No, don't bother to come out. I'll just start down the street, and you just be around."
He'd start down, and somebody would walk by and he would reach out his hand and shake hands with them and say, "I'm Harry Truman. I'm your United States Senator. I'm running for reelection and I'd like to have you vote for me." Then he'd talk about whatever, conversations about farming or whatever. You must know how much at ease he was in that situation.
JOHNSON: He could talk especially about farming interests, having been one himself.
FARRINGTON: Oh yes. I guess he spent a half hour maybe,
not too long there, and then we went to a little town called Ellwood, which is just practically nothing; but there's a little community there. Then we went on to Ash Grove, which was a bigger place and he did the same thing there, and then over to the east side of the county to Strafford. We got through, and I brought him back to the headquarters, I don't recall who his man was there, but somebody came to pick him up.
JOHNSON: Fred Canfil. Do you remember Fred Canfil?
FARRINGTON: He was a marshal wasn't he, later on?
FARRINGTON: It could have been him.
JOHNSON: He chauffeured in '34. Perhaps he helped in 1940.
FARRINGTON: I can't recall that.
JOHNSON: In '34 by the way, did you have any involvement in that campaign?
FARRINGTON: No, I was in law school at that time. I was still in school.
JOHNSON: So, in 1940 you're helping him get around to some of these little places around Springfield.
FARRINGTON: I remember this too--you know back in those
days they used to have rallies. We had a rally at the Central High School auditorium, which was a place that would hold 1500 people at least. Jimmy Byrnes, Senator Jimmy Byrnes, was the speaker. I guess he was from South Carolina, wasn't he?
FARRINGTON: And, of course, Senator Truman was there; Bennett Clark was there. I saw him on that occasion, of course; that was in 1940.
JOHNSON: A big rally at the high school.
FARRINGTON: Yes. We filled her up.
JOHNSON: That would have been the biggest one?
FARRINGTON: That was the big one, yes. We brought Senator Byrnes in. We'd have schoolhouse rallies, maybe one or two a week around different places. It was amazing how people would attend those. Of course, they didn't have television, and times were not the best.
JOHNSON: In 1940 Reuben Wood was running for Congress again wasn't he, against Phil Bennett. Was it the practice of Truman to also speak up for Wood, try to get him elected?
FARRINGTON: I'm sure he did. I'm sure he did.
JOHNSON: But it turned out that Wood lost.
FARRINGTON: Yes. This district has been heavily Republican. Southwest Missouri has had a Republican majority for years. In fact, today it's . . .
JOHNSON: Does that go back to the Civil War? How do you account for that?
FARRINGTON: Probably. There was a Civil War battle at Hartville, Missouri; that's where Arthur Curtis originated from. But it was Union supported.
JOHNSON: They were against secession.
FARRINGTON: Yes. You probably hit the principal reason for that. It's probably 40,000 Republican now, this district.
JOHNSON: A majority of 40,000?
FARRINGTON: Yes. Yes, the vote's there. Once in a while it narrows down. You get a condition in the economy and issues of the country, that would cut that margin. In fact, about four years ago [Gene] Taylor just barely squeezed by a Democratic nominee. Charles Brown was elected twice.
JOHNSON: He was Democrat? Charlie Brown?
FARRINGTON: Charlie was a Democrat, yes.
JOHNSON: That's in recent years.
FARRINGTON: I'd say in '56 and '58, he was elected, in Eisenhower's second campaign.
JOHNSON: Kind of strange how . . .
FARRINGTON: I'll tell you what that's about. Dewey Short had been the Republican Congressman from this district for 20-some odd years. Dewey was a likeable fellow. He liked to take a couple swigs of whiskey every once in a while. If somebody came to him and said he wanted a job, wanted to be Postmaster, Dewey said, "I would get it for you, but I can't do anything because Democrats have got control." He promised an awful lot of people an awful lot of Postmaster's jobs, but there weren't that many to go around. The Republicans had a fellow who was a state senator named Noel Cox, in 1954. Cox ran against Short in the primary, and it was a bitter primary. Short beat him. So, when Charlie Brown ran in '56 the Cox people said, "The way to beat Dewey is to elect a Democrat." So, they stayed home. A lot of people voted for Charlie and Charlie got elected. And in '58 Cox ran against Brown. The Short people said, "We remember who beat us in '56," so they stayed home and Charlie got reelected.
JOHNSON: Noel Cox wasn't the son of Lester Cox?
FARRINGTON: Oh, no.
JOHNSON: Lester Cox was Democrat, wasn't he?
FARRINGTON: Lester was a kind of a funny one. He was a fair-weather Democrat if it was good Democrat times. In fact, I was getting ready to close the campaign headquarters when I was chairman in '54; we did pretty well. It was an off-year, you know. We elected some local people, and I believe Tom Hennings was elected Senator. I got a call from Lester Cox just as we were cleaning up, the day after the election getting ready to get out of there. He said, "Look here, I got a check in my desk. Dern it, I just didn't mail it to you, but can you still use some money?" Of course, we could. He said, "I'm sending you $100. I neglected to mail it." I accepted his check for the committee. We'd had a good year. But he wasn't any kin to the other Cox.
JOHNSON: Back on that '40 campaign, you mentioned that you chauffeured Truman to these little places, and then you had the big rally. Is there anything else about that campaign that comes to mind?
FARRINGTON: Nothing other than this getting Trimble away from Stark.
JOHNSON: Stark said he wasn't going to run. You know,
Truman says Stark came into his office and said if Truman was going to run again he wouldn't run against him. Of course, he did, which made Truman very angry.
FARRINGTON: Well, you know, [Tom] Pendergast got into trouble about that time, and by golly, Truman didn't disgrace himself in that at all. He came out of that looking pretty strong. Pendergast was a boss and he was wrong. He got corrupt in getting money from state officers and that sort of thing.
JOHNSON: Stark did try to . . .
FARRINGTON: He tried to capitalize on that. But there's another fellow in that campaign from Kansas City, [Maurice] Milligan. He was district attorney. But it took a lot of guts for Truman to [turn away from temptation]. It would have been easy for Truman and he could have gotten away with it I suppose. As I recall, Truman went to Pendergast's funeral.
JOHNSON: Yes. Was it known at the time that Stark had gotten Pendergast's endorsement when he was going to run for Governor? Was it known at that time?
JOHNSON: Did Truman win this congressional district, do you recall, in '40, even though Reuben Wood lost it?
FARRINGTON: I'm not sure. I can't answer that. You're talking about the general election?
JOHNSON: Yes. Or even in the primary. Did he win against Stark and Milligan in the primary in this district?
FARRINGTON: Yes, I think he did. I believe he did. He came out of Greene County with some majority, and he came out of Webster County as well. I remember that Webster situation, because we laughed about it.
JOHNSON: That switch of loyalty.
FARRINGTON: That switch of loyalty from . . .
JOHNSON: It made a big difference.
FARRINGTON: It did. And Trimble after that was red hot for Truman.
JOHNSON: Did he ever get any special position?
FARRINGTON: No, he was vice-president and cashier down there at the Union National Bank, which is now Boatmen's. He was interested in politics, as a person. You know how you get interested in it; you just are. You feel some responsibilities for thinking that your idea the way things ought to be is the better way.
JOHNSON: Okay, you were secretary of the local county Democratic Central Committee in 1940. How long did you
stay in that position?
FARRINGTON: Not too long. Bill Collinson was elected prosecuting attorney in that campaign. He's a Federal judge now, retired. He and I have been friends for a long time; we went to school the same class together. He became prosecuting attorney, and he appointed me his trial assistant. So I went into the prosecutor's office in 1941, and I resigned from the Democrat committee shortly after that, because I think the law said you couldn't hold both. Anyway, I could have served out the rest of '41, I'm not sure. Then I went into the Navy after that.
JOHNSON: I notice in 1940 that the Federal food stamp program was initiated here in the county; that's one of the early trials of the food stamp program. Of the county's population of 83,000, it was estimated that about 15,000 were on relief.
FARRINGTON: Could have been.
JOHNSON: You don't recall if the local Democratic Committee had anything to do with getting that food stamp program started here?
FARRINGTON: I'm sure they did. Wasn't there a fellow named Wade? Who was the administrator, do you know?
JOHNSON: I might have some reference to that here somewhere. I'm not sure it's in this folder.
FARRINGTON: Let's put it this way, I don't have any direct recollection on that.
JOHNSON: Here's a notice about it, but . . .
FARRINGTON: Does it say who the administrator was?
JOHNSON: It doesn't mention who the administrator was. Just that Henry Wallace had announced that the food stamp plan for distributing surplus agricultural commodities would be extended to Springfield, Missouri and the rest of Greene County.
So you went into the Navy in '41?
FARRINGTON: In '42. I was in the prosecutor's office almost two years. I went in, in late '42.
JOHNSON: Did you ever go to Washington, ever visit Truman when he was Senator?
FARRINGTON: I went up there after I got back. They had a milk program around here, I forget just what was involved. And Frank Briggs was elected to succeed Truman, when Truman resigned to become Vice President. See, he was elected in '40 and he had two more years left on his term.
JOHNSON: Frank Briggs you say was . . .
FARRINGTON: He took Mr. Truman's place.
JOHNSON: Mr. Truman's job as U.S. Senator.
FARRINGTON: I went up there and saw Briggs on this thing. They had what they called the Greene County Milk Producers Association. I don't remember exactly what they were trying to get. Anyway they were trying to get some change in law, and I saw Frank Briggs in his office. As I recall, I didn't get to see Vice President Truman, but I asked Briggs if I could see him, pay my respects, say hello to him.
JOHNSON: Was that when Truman was Vice President or President?
FARRINGTON: He was President. I saw Briggs on this thing. That's right, Truman was President. Yes, Roosevelt died in April of '45. I was still in the Navy at that time.
JOHNSON: Yes, when did you get back?
FARRINGTON: I got back about the first of October of '45. I had enough points to get out of there.
JOHNSON: Did you resume your job as prosecutor?
JOHNSON: Just went back into private practice.
FARRINGTON: Came back to the law office here.
JOHNSON: And into local politics again, right away?
FARRINGTON: Well, I'd say in the next year or so, you know. You've got to try to get to work before you can play.
JOHNSON: When you went to see Briggs, were you representing . . .
FARRINGTON: I was representing the Greene County Milk Producers Association. I was there as a lawyer trying to help them get a change in the law. It wasn't a lobbying thing. I wouldn't know what a lobbyist is supposed to do. We were just up there to try to see what we could do. They were claiming they were subject to the anti-trust laws, because these milk producers would get together in this association and they'd sell their milk in combine and that sort of thing.
JOHNSON: Sort of like a cooperative?.
FARRINGTON: Yes, they were claiming it was anti-trust and we were trying to make sure that there were not problems with that.
JOHNSON: Do I have the right impression that dairy farming and railroads were the two main industries here at that
FARRINGTON: Yes, dairying and I'd say the railroads would take--Frisco had a big division point here.
JOHNSON: And the Lilly Corporation came in.
FARRINGTON: They came in about 1946-47.
JOHNSON: Truman's successor as Senator, Frank Briggs, was up for reelection in '46, but got swept out in that Republican resurgence in '46. Was he trying to uphold or continue what he thought were Truman policies in that period?
FARRINGTON: Oh, I'm sure he was. Frank Briggs had been a state senator. He was a good solid individual, but he wasn't a fellow that would strike up a great deal of personal image. He wasn't like Truman. Truman was a dynamic fellow in that when he was in something he was fired up about it. I would say that Briggs got beat just because of the times. It was an off-year. OPA had price controls and people were sick of that. It was just an off, between-year election.
JOHNSON: Where was he from, Frank Briggs? What part of the state?
FARRINGTON: I think he came from Macon, Missouri. It's up in the northern part of the state.
JOHNSON: So, after 1940 you didn't see Truman again perhaps until . . .
FARRINGTON: I saw him in 1952, after he was elected again.
JOHNSON: Now, in '46 when you went to see Briggs, did you . . .
FARRINGTON: I didn't get to see him. He was President.
JOHNSON: You didn't get into the White House.
FARRINGTON: I don't remember exactly why. I think the train got in there in the morning and we got to see Briggs, and the people we were seeing the next day. Then we got out of there the day after that.
JOHNSON: Did you at some point visit Truman in the White House?
JOHNSON: Did you ever call him in the White House while he was President?
JOHNSON: Let's take a look at '48, the campaign of '48. Truman was here in Springfield twice. He was here during the dedication of the statue in Bolivar in early July, and then on September 29th I believe he was here
on the whistlestop tour. You were secretary again weren't you, of the . . .
FARRINGTON: No, I was not secretary . . .
JOHNSON: You were chairman of the Executive Committee of the Greene County Democratic Committee.
FARRINGTON: I saw him in '48 when he came through here on the train, during the campaign, when he was running for reelection against Dewey. I saw him then.
JOHNSON: You went on the train did you?
FARRINGTON: I didn't ride on the train. I got on the train and was able to shake hands with him and that sort of thing.
JOHNSON: Here in Springfield.
FARRINGTON: In Springfield, down at the station. Dewey had come through about two weeks before and had what everybody thought was a big crowd, I don't know. They estimated about 5,000. Truman came in here later and you couldn't see the station and down the tracks for the crowd he had. It was amazing, and that's what fooled everybody. I mean, it began to look like maybe... but nobody thought he had a chance.
JOHNSON: Not even you.
FARRINGTON: Diggie Chinn was a very good friend of mine. He went to Neosho, I think, with Howard Hannah. They got on the train and rode down from Neosho to Springfield, and got off here. I saw him the next day and I said to him, "How does the President feel about this election?" He said, "Hell, he doesn't know what's going on in the country." I said, "What do you mean?" "He thinks he's going to be elected." I said, "What do you think?" He said, "I don't think he is."
I agreed with him; I didn't think he had a chance. The day after the election we got together and we said, "We sure don't know a damn thing about the country, do we?"
JOHNSON: Most of his friends were surprised. What was your feeling at the time?
FARRINGTON: I didn't think he could be elected. I was hopeful, and I stayed up all night listening to the returns. I think it was about 7 o'clock in the morning here when the word came through the radio that he had been reelected.
JOHNSON: This is going back a little bit, to '44. There was a letter from Sam Wear to Richard Nacy of the Democrat National Committee in October, in which he said there was a chance of getting Orson Welles to Springfield. He had talked it over with Fred Moon and
your father. Of course, you were in the Navy when this happened.
FARRINGTON: In '44, yes.
JOHNSON: What was the idea of getting Orson Welles? Was there any connection that Orson Welles had with this area? Do you remember anything about that?
FARRINGTON: I don't know anything about that. I would guess that he was a celebrity, he was well-known, and they figured he might draw a crowd. That's what we used to talk about. We've got to have a crowd.
JOHNSON: Got to get a celebrity here.
FARRINGTON: Got to get a crowd. I brought Will Rogers, Jr. in here when I was chairman. We had a rally at the Shrine Mosque. Phil Donnelly was Governor and he was running again. Or he had been Governor and he was running. That was in '52, and I had run into Will Rogers, Jr. at the Democratic Convention in '52 in Chicago. I thought he was a personable fellow and could make a good talk. Son of a great person. He was a bust.
JOHNSON: Is that right?
FARRINGTON: Yes. He didn't tell a single Will Rogers story.
JOHNSON: And that's what people were expecting.
FARRINGTON: That's what people were thinking. They were hoping he was a chip off the old block, and it didn't work.
JOHNSON: I noticed in '48 that you were chairman of the executive committee of the Greene County Democratic Central Committee and Mrs. Harry Bissett was co- chairman of that committee. John Hulston was chairman of the Central Committee itself. What was your role then, as chairman of the executive committee. What would be your role in the campaign, the '48 campaign?
FARRINGTON: I don't know particularly, but I'd bet maybe if Hulston had something he wanted to have the executive committee's advice about or . . .
JOHNSON: So you were advisors?
FARRINGTON: You could say, "My executive committee thinks this ought to be done." That kind of gave the chairman a little cushion, in case of . . .
I don't recall doing any legwork. I'm sure I went to the rallies and to the meetings and that sort of thing.
JOHNSON: So far as helping Truman in '48, in his election campaign, you went to visit him when he came by train.
Can you recall who were some of the others who helped promote his candidacy here in Greene County?
FARRINGTON: I think Charlie Riley was chairman in 1948.
JOHNSON: Well, here's a letterhead from '48.
JOHNSON: Was Fred Moon an effective chairman, by the way?
FARRINGTON: Yes, I thought he was. He could get along with people. According to this letterhead, Charlie Riley was Finance Committee chairman. I wish I had my blue book handy. This was March of '48 you see. I'm not sure; was [John] Hulston chairman during the campaign?
JOHNSON: Yes. He's the one that introduced Truman to the crowd on the night after the Bolivar statue dedication, when the train backed into Springfield from Bolivar, Missouri.
FARRINGTON: Now, was that in the summer of '48?
JOHNSON: July of '48. And Truman gave a whistlestop speech in Springfield on September 29. You were down for that, no doubt.
JOHNSON: That's the one where you actually visited him on
FARRINGTON: Was that September or October?
JOHNSON: September 29th, on the whistlestop. Didn't you also visit him in July during that Bolivar stop when the train backed up? That hot day?
FARRINGTON: Oh, it was a terrible hot day.
JOHNSON: But you did visit him then?
FARRINGTON: I think I did.
JOHNSON: Was it just the usual canvassing and polling of wards and handing out leaflets? Did they go door-to-door in those days?
FARRINGTON: Oh yes. The committeeman and committeewoman had the responsibility of preparing a poll book, which was used during the campaign. They'd go to the door and they'd introduce themselves and ask them their names and find out who was there and who was able to vote, and were they going to vote, were they registered and that sort of thing, and if they were a Democrat, Republican or Independent. Then they'd prepare a book, get the phone number if they had a phone, and prepare a poll book that the committee headquarters would use and they would use, to get the vote out on election day. That was the big problem; and getting them registered.
The committee people did that, or they had people working with them that produced that. If you weren't a committeeman or committeewoman, I don't think anybody got involved in that.
JOHNSON: They were the precinct workers, so to speak.
FARRINGTON: We just had wards; the wards weren't broken down until later on. They had to break them down, they got too big. I'm trying to think when Charlie Riley was--I thought Charlie Riley was chairman. The committee meets after the primary. You see, the chairman would be elected after the primary. The committee meets after the primary, and the committeemen and committeewomen are all elected after the primary.
JOHNSON: In August.
FARRINGTON: In August, which is done the first Tuesday in August. And then they meet. I forget what the statute says, whether they meet within 20 days or something like that, to elect a chairman and elect the officers of the Democratic or Republican Central Committee. I've got the impression, I may be mistaken, but I thought Charlie Riley was chairman at some time. I was thinking that Hulston was maybe chairman in 1946. He'd carry over to '48.
JOHNSON: But after August it'd be somebody else?
FARRINGTON: I may be wrong but I thought Charlie Riley was chairman when . . .
JOHNSON: It could be. In July it would still be the old chairman. In October it would be a new chairman possibly. You're saying there were elections for the County Committee after the primary in August, so there could have been a change.
FARRINGTON: Officers of the county committee were elected after the primary. The members of the county committee were elected on primary day. Then, I think twenty days after that, the members meet and they elect the officers, the chairman and vice-chairman, treasurer and so forth, for the Democratic Committee, and also the district committees.
JOHNSON: Like your executive committee. Would that be elected, or appointed by the chairman?
FARRINGTON: It would be appointed.
JOHNSON: These were appointed by the chairman of the Central Committee.
FARRINGTON: And I was not a member of the committee in 1948. I was not a committeeman, let's put it that way.
JOHNSON: But you were appointed to the executive committee, as chairman of the executive committee.
FARRINGTON: Let me get something. Here's the blue book [Official Manual, State of Missouri] for 1949 and '50, and Charlie Riley is shown as chairman.
JOHNSON: Okay, he was elected after Hulston.
FARRINGTON: Yes. Charles W. Riley was chairman, and Mrs. Pope G. Myers was Vice-Chairman.
JOHNSON: Were you still chairman of the executive committee?
FARRINGTON: I don't recall, probably. I might have been and might not, I don't know.
JOHNSON: I guess I've asked you if you had any specific role there in the local campaign to promote Truman's reelection in '48.
FARRINGTON: Oh, I don't know. I'm sure we went to the meetings when they were raising money, and we'd contribute and exhort those who hadn't contributed to get on board. There was kind of a lame feeling about the whole thing with a lot of people. The regulars stayed in the boat, but . . .
JOHNSON: Well, did Truman win the county then in '48? Or the district?
FARRINGTON: Let's see if this shows that. Yes, Truman
carried the county, 20,762 to 18,836, almost 2,000. Let's look at the Governor's race. Truman ran way ahead of the ticket. The Governor, Forrest Smith, carried the county by 14 votes, and Truman carried it by about 1,930. Now, they may have some congressional totals here.
JOHNSON: I guess his coattails, as they say, were fairly long in '48.
JOHNSON: He helped carry some other candidates with him.
FARRINGTON: Jim Blair [Democrat] was elected Lieutenant Governor.
JOHNSON: You were, of course, working for all the Democratic candidates here. But Truman was the big factor.
FARRINGTON: Always in a presidential election year, the county's going to pretty much follow the trend of the head of the ticket. There have been cases where the state committee abandoned the Presidential candidate; they did when Humphrey lost to Nixon. If they had worked for Humphrey like they should have, he'd have carried Missouri.
JOHNSON: Did you ever work with the Democratic state
FARRINGTON: I was on the state committee.
JOHNSON: What year was that?
FARRINGTON: I was county chairman in '52, and then I went on the state committee in '54 and '56. I was on for four years.
JOHNSON: So, in '52 you're working again at the local level here.
JOHNSON: For Adlai Stevenson.
JOHNSON: Well, in '48 you saw Truman while he was campaigning when he came through on his whistlestop. What was the next time that you got to see Truman.
FARRINGTON: I would say it was in the summer of '52. He was in the 35th Division in World War I--they called it the "Hound Dog Division"--and they had a reunion in Springfield of that division, along in June or July, I can't remember exactly. But it was before the primary.
JOHNSON: It was in July.
FARRINGTON: Truman came down here for that. And, there's a
fellow named Corbett who was a very good artist, here.
JOHNSON: What was his first name?
FARRINGTON: I don't know. But he painted an Ozarks scene. Very fine, very good painting. It was a sizeable painting. I presented it to President Truman at the Shrine Mosque.
JOHNSON: This painting of an Ozarks scene.
FARRINGTON: Yes sir. He was very nice and affable about it, and he said what a man would say, probably wondering what the hell am I going to do with it [laughs]. At any rate, I got to talking to him behind the stage back there, and I'll never forget this. Back of the Shrine Mosque there is some little cubby-hole like places where the performers can sit down and dress in a dressing room-type thing. He was sitting there, and we were talking; at that time they hadn't had the national conventions yet. You know, for a long time nobody knew whether Eisenhower was a Democrat or a Republican. They both seemed to want him. The Democrats have got to admit, if they had got him to run as a Democrat they would have run him, because he couldn't be beat. But Truman didn't like him.
I would say he [Truman] didn't like him, based on this. We were talking and the comment came about who
were the Republicans going to nominate. They always held their convention first when the Democrats were in the incumbent office of President. Truman said that he didn't know whether he, Eisenhower, would be nominee or not. He said, "The son of a bitch doesn't know what he is." That's the language he used. I gathered he didn't think too much of him. And later on, of course, when Eisenhower didn't defend General Marshall, when McCarthy called him a communist, Truman got very bitter over that and rightfully so. Eisenhower owed his whole existence as a general, and his later position when he became President, to Marshall's selecting him for the commander-in-chief of the European theater. That was the last conversation I had with Truman. In fact, it was the only one I had with him while he was President, except when he was running in '48.
JOHNSON: And the time of that reunion in '52 was when Ronald Reagan was here, with the Hollywood people.
FARRINGTON: Ronald Reagan was here to kind of, you know, ice the cake with the celebrities. They brought Ronald Reagan; he had just recently married Nancy at that time. Well, there were three or four of them [Hollywood actors] that were brought in here for a movie premier, and they had a reception at the Shrine Mosque for all of them.
JOHNSON: Was Truman there? Truman never met Reagan at that point, or did he?
FARRINGTON: I don't know whether he did or not. I know I met Reagan. He was strong for Truman. Oh, he was red hot for Truman.
JOHNSON: In '52 he was?
FARRINGTON: Even in '52. I think he said he was the president of the actor's union out there in Hollywood, and I had a conversation with him. He wouldn't recall me. It was very brief. I remember his enthusiasm for Truman.
JOHNSON: Kind of interesting.
FARRINGTON: He was a strong Democrat at that time.
JOHNSON: Did you ever hear of the story that John Hulston tells that Harry Truman and his cousin Ralph got together to discuss whether they should invite the Hollywood group, including the Reagans, to a party, or a reception, for Harry Truman? They finally decided that they didn't need to have any Hollywood "riffraff," at their party. Did you ever hear that story?
FARRINGTON: No. I knew Ralph Truman very well, General Truman?
I became acquainted with him when he was a fire
investigator. He was an arson investigator for the Home Insurance Company, and for other insurance companies, and we represented the Home Insurance Company. We did some [legal] defense work on fires, suspect fires, arson fires. And Ralph was the bird dog whom we said "had a nose for smoke." Of course, he was a typical Truman type, I'd say, because when he sized someone up, he was either a "sonofabitch" or he was no good, or he was all right, good or bad. And when he went after somebody on a fire, there wasn't any doubt.
JOHNSON: Things were black or white . . .
FARRINGTON: They were black or white; the flame was set and then the fellow got a little burned when he set it.
No, I never heard that story. I'm sure it must have taken place.
JOHNSON: You never saw the Reagans and Trumans together in the same place?
FARRINGTON: No, sir.
JOHNSON: You remember Ralph Truman pretty well, and his personality.
JOHNSON: How would you describe briefly his personality?
FARRINGTON: Well, he had been a general and he had a military bearing. He was a man of strong opinions, and a hardworking fellow as far as when he went to investigate a fire; he brought back information.
JOHNSON: Did he ever help with local politics, and do you recall him ever doing any politicking for Harry Truman his cousin?
FARRINGTON: No I don't. I think he was living in Kansas City in '48 during that election.
JOHNSON: What year would that have been when you got acquainted with him?
FARRINGTON: Well, it had to be in the late '40s. Arthur Curtis was the lawyer in our office that principally handled Home Insurance Company matters. I can recall that Truman, Ralph Truman, came in during Curtis' lifetime, and Curtis died in 1950. So we knew him from that point forward.
JOHNSON: So, in '52 you have a chance to visit with Harry Truman while he was here for the 35th Division reunion. In fact, you presented him this painting.
FARRINGTON: That's right. I don't know where it is. What did they do with all that?
JOHNSON: That may be in the Library. The next time you're
up there, we'll check on that, to see if it isn't in our collections.
FARRINGTON: I think we paid a couple hundred dollars for it, which was a hell of a lot of money then.
JOHNSON: Were you the MC, master of ceremonies, or something at that event in '52?
JOHNSON: How did you get chosen to do that?
FARRINGTON: Well, I was the county chairman. They were going to present it and they asked me to present it to him.
JOHNSON: And that was at the evening . . .
FARRINGTON: No, that was in the afternoon. They had an afternoon session. I don't know, there were some festivities going on there in the Shrine Mosque. It's a large auditorium. You can get a lot of people in there. And it was done on the stage. In fact, I used to have a picture of it around here someplace.
JOHNSON: You were in the Navy, weren't you in World War II. In other words, you didn't have any direct connection with the 35th Division.
FARRINGTON: That's right.
JOHNSON: By the way, where did you serve when you were in the Navy?
FARRINGTON: I was at Quonset, Rhode Island, and then I was at Guam and Saipan. We were administrative support for anti-submarine air patrol, anti-submarine searches. And at Saipan there was an outfit called the Tanapag Air Patrol, Tanapag Air base at Saipan. In 1945 they were bombing the hell out of Tokyo and Yokohama and various cities of Japan with B-29s. They would take off at Saipan and Tinian, which is another island you almost can see from Saipan, and from Guam. Sometimes, there were as much as a thousand-plane raid. They'd take off about 6 o'clock in the evening. We'd see them going like a parade, off a place called Marpys Point, which was a big high bluff.
They'd come back the next morning, after their bombing raid; that's how long it was. Some of them were shot up, some of them were out of fuel almost, and then they'd ditch in. There are a number of islands north from Saipan, north toward Japan. When the planes would come back, they would be in radio contact, because the Marianas had no Japanese opposition, or installations that they could fire on. They'd be in radio contact, and sometimes they'd have to ditch in. Our patrol, the Tanapag Air Patrol, would go up and rescue, air-sea rescue, these people. Now, that's
where I was.
JOHNSON: Iwo Jima was supposed to be important because it was a place for those planes to land that couldn't make it back. When you heard of the atomic bombing, what was your reaction?
FARRINGTON: There was a rumor in June around Saipan that the Army had some kind of a military device, a bomb or whatever; they didn't call it an atomic bomb, because nobody knew except the people I guess that were supposed to know. But there was a fellow that went up there for air briefings, and when he came back I recall him saying, "There's something going to happen." He said, "We're going to be out of here before too damn long." Of course, with that kind of news your ear grew about like a phonograph horn. And sure enough, they dropped that thing in early August.
JOHNSON: The 6th of August. Yes, when that bombing of Hiroshima occurred, where were you stationed? Were you on Saipan?
FARRINGTON: I was on Saipan, but a funny thing happened. The Pacific cable had been cut some way or another, but a telegram finally came in to the base saying that my father was critically ill with cancer. I wondered if there was any possibility of getting home. I went down
to the commander's office, and I asked the commander if there was any chance for a leave to go home, and he said, "Hell no." I said, "Well, do you object if I go to somebody else up the Island Command that might give me some encouragement?" He said, "No, I don't object; but you won't get out of here." I said, "You don't need me." Well, I went to Island Command anyway to see if I could get help.
I had done some work as Judge Advocate for the legal officer at the island headquarters, and he went to the commanding officer and, by golly, I got a leave. Well, we didn't know anything about the bomb. I think I left there about the 4th or 5th of August. I flew out from Saipan to Majuro, and then to Johnston Island and then to Pearl Harbor, and got a flight out of Pearl Harbor the next evening. I flew into Oakland Naval Air Station at Alameda airport there and then hitched a flight from there to Kansas City, to a little installation there right outside of Olathe, Kansas Air Base. And then I got down home. I was home when that bomb hit. I had landed when it was announced.
Maybe there was more current knowledge about it than I thought. This one fellow didn't know what he was talking about. There was something in the air as far as he knew, and he made a comment, "We're going to be out of here before too long."
JOHNSON: Because of a new weapon.
FARRINGTON: I loved to hear what he said, but I thought he must be crazy.
JOHNSON: After '52, after this convention here, did you ever meet Truman again?
FARRINGTON: I don't recall him coming. We tried to get him to come to the Jackson Day dinner after he got out as President. I don't recall that he ever came back to the dinner after that time.
I had a thing that might be interesting. Truman, after he got out of the Presidency, was interviewed by Ed Murrow. Remember Ed Murrow?
JOHNSON: Yes, that was in '57, I believe when he was interviewed.
FARRINGTON: It came on Sunday afternoon, or Sunday evening, on TV. I listened to that and I thought Truman conducted himself wonderfully well, on those interviews. That's when he made the comment about "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen." He mentioned some incident about Eisenhower and he said, "Well, he's not doing much," or something like that. I wrote him a letter; I had never done that to another President or anybody else.
JOHNSON: This was the first time you had written Truman?
FARRINGTON: No, no. The first time I had written a letter of this kind. I just said to the effect, "Your interview Sunday afternoon with Ed Murrow gave me much genuine pleasure that I just wanted to write you and thank you." And I told him about that Stark incident.
JOHNSON: I'd like to get a xerox of it.
FARRINGTON: I told him about that Stark incident, and I didn't expect to hear anything from him, because hell, I figured he got lots of letters like that. I got back this letter from Truman.
JOHNSON: I'd like to get a xerox of both of them. [See Appendix II for a reproduction of these two letters]
FARRINGTON: I will. He said, "I do not believe I ever received a letter I enjoyed more than yours."
JOHNSON: That was in . . .
FARRINGTON: In '58. February of '58.
JOHNSON: That's the last correspondence you've had.
FARRINGTON: That's the last correspondence I had with him, and the last connection.
JOHNSON: He came here in November 1958, and again later for
Ralph Truman's funeral. Were you at that funeral for Ralph Truman?
FARRINGTON: When was it?
JOHNSON: In 1962. Then he came out to dedicate the armory that was named in honor of Ralph Truman, a year later. He made his last visits here in 1962 and '63.
FARRINGTON: I didn't see him. I intended to, but you know how you put things off. I intended to, when he got that Library started, and built. He was exceptionally proud of that.
JOHNSON: He started using it in July of '57, and used it right up until July of '66 when he became ill.
Now, on the '52 campaign, you were working for Adlai Stevenson?
FARRINGTON: Yes sir. I was a delegate to the convention in Chicago when Truman introduced Stevenson.
JOHNSON: So you got to see Truman in Chicago. Did you get to talk to him?
FARRINGTON: I didn't get to talk to him. He came in there; it was late at night when they got around to his speech, and Truman came in and introduced him, and was in and gone. I don't know where, but he . . .
JOHNSON: In '56 he also went back. I think it was Chicago again. Were you at that convention?
FARRINGTON: I wasn't at that convention. I was only a delegate there in '52. I had the feeling that Truman wasn't too warm about Stevenson.
JOHNSON: No, not after that campaign of '52.
FARRINGTON: He thought if they wanted a nomination for President, they ought to go out and try to get it. Stevenson hung back, kind of like "I'll accept it if they hand it to me."
JOHNSON: Wanted to be coaxed I guess. In fact, Truman was promoting [W. Averell] Harriman in '56.
FARRINGTON: Yes. In '52 Barkley was Truman's man for President. They had a rule then in the convention that a candidate couldn't come on the floor of the convention, as long as he was an active candidate, prior to the balloting, and during the balloting. Tom Hennings was the Senator, and very strong for Barkley. Barkley withdrew during the convention, before the balloting, and made a stem-winding speech. It was one of the best.
JOHNSON: And you heard that speech.
FARRINGTON: Yes. Kefauver was a candidate then too, you
know. I think it was about the third ballot or something like that that Stevenson was nominated. But Truman was luke-warm on . . .
JOHNSON: He didn't like Kefauver.
FARRINGTON: No. No, he didn't.
JOHNSON: Kefauver was having those hearings involving Democrat mayors and machines and that sort of thing. In fact, Kefauver ran in the New Hampshire primary in early '52 and got more votes than Truman.
JOHNSON: Were you surprised when you heard Truman wasn't going to run in '52?
FARRINGTON: No, he had indicated that he wouldn't. I mean I don't think he made any announcement until right late, but he had been President for almost . . .
JOHNSON: Almost two terms.
FARRINGTON: He went in on April 12, something like that, when Roosevelt died. So, he missed about three months of being a two-term President.
JOHNSON: Things got rough for the President after the Korean war started. And there was McCarthyism and some scandals.
FARRINGTON: I'll tell you, when you examine Truman's record as President, though, I think he's going to grow in stature as President. While he was in, there were times when he was facing a lot of criticism. The press was after him badly; he didn't let that bother him. At least he didn't let it show, although I'm sure it bothered him. It would have bothered anybody. But hell, he made some tremendous decisions, dropping the bomb, the Marshall plan, reconstruction of Europe . . .
JOHNSON: Of course, the Korean decision was the toughest decision he had to make.
FARRINGTON: I think so.
JOHNSON: And the firing of MacArthur. What was your opinion of that?
FARRINGTON: I was tickled to death. I thought he ought to have been fired sooner. MacArthur may have been a great general, but he was also the most egomaniac person I think ever existed. I'll tell you what we used to call him in the Navy, in combat. They called him "Dugout Doug."
JOHNSON: Yes, I've heard that. In other words, he wasn't all that popular with the . . .
FARRINGTON: Not with the Navy. I don't know, he may have
been popular with the troops he was with, but hell, Eisenhower didn't like him either.
JOHNSON: The Navy people liked [Admiral Chester] Nimitz though, I suppose.
FARRINGTON: Oh, absolutely.
JOHNSON: Of course, Nimitz and MacArthur sometimes didn't see eye-to-eye on strategy.
FARRINGTON: I thought Truman had to fire him. He threw the glove down to Truman, in effect.
JOHNSON: He wrote a letter to Joe Martin, you know.
FARRINGTON: I don't know whether the decision was militarily correct or not, but he was subject to the commander-in-chief who was the President.
JOHNSON: Not everybody saw that. More letters came to the White House excoriating Truman than vice versa.
FARRINGTON: But in retrospect, we are getting to see it was a situation that MacArthur created, that any President of any strength at all wouldn't tolerate. Couldn't tolerate.
JOHNSON: How about your local newspaper? I know Truman said they were always Republican.
FARRINGTON: They ate him up. They ate Truman up.
JOHNSON: They criticized him for that decision I suppose.
FARRINGTON: Oh, yes. MacArthur was the hero; he was being mistreated and the President was ungrateful. Where did they meet? They met on . . .
JOHNSON: Wake Island. In October 1950.
FARRINGTON: And Truman made it as plain as it could be made to him. He turned right around . . .
JOHNSON: MacArthur at that point was underestimating the Chinese.
JOHNSON: Said they wouldn't come in. If they did come in, they would be chewed up.
FARRINGTON: He was also underestimating Truman. That was his worst mistake.
JOHNSON: I've interviewed the fellow that was driving the car when they were talking together. He was a Secret Service man. Apparently Truman did talk sternly to MacArthur.
FARRINGTON: That's the impression I always had. There couldn't have been any doubt in MacArthur's mind what
his obligations were.
JOHNSON: Perhaps I should ask you about someone else. What are your recollections of John Caskie Collet?
FARRINGTON: He was a most approachable judge insofar as a young lawyer coming into his court is concerned. I don't mean he gave me any advantage, but you felt very comfortable with him. He didn't have the so-called "Federalitis" about being a judge. He was a very decent person in that respect. I didn't see him very many times. I saw him when I was before him a few times. He would come down to Springfield, and he'd come out and join the poker game once in a while.
JOHNSON: You mean with Truman?
FARRINGTON: No, not necessarily with Truman, but when he was down here. I'm sure he was with Truman, but I have a recollection that he would sometimes come when there was a poker game.
JOHNSON: He was appointed as Federal judge by President Truman. Was he from the Springfield area?
FARRINGTON: No. He was from Kansas City.
JOHNSON: But he came down here to visit. He was a good friend of whom, then?
FARRINGTON: Well, I think there was a time when he came down here on District Court matters. Judge [Albert] Reeves was on the bench; he was a Republican appointee, a very gracious, kindly man.
JOHNSON: Albert Reeves.
FARRINGTON: Albert L. Reeves. He was the most kindly person to a lawyer in the courtroom I've ever seen. But I think Collett then went on the Court of Appeals, United States Court of Appeals. I think probably the connection was that he and Sam Wear had to be good friends because Sam was District Attorney. And Collett was a good friend of Diggie Chinn, Hyram Chinn.
JOHNSON: Of course, Truman had to be fairly well acquainted with them too, to appoint him. You mentioned poker games. You didn't play poker, but you recall that Truman was in some poker games. Where was this?
FARRINGTON: Over at my father's home.
JOHNSON: That's where they would play poker every so often.
JOHNSON: And you would kind of sneak in?
FARRINGTON: I'd come in and be introduced to the people there, and . . .
JOHNSON: That's when he was Senator, in the '30s.
FARRINGTON: Yes. I'll tell you one time there was an interesting situation as I recall. Truman beat Roscoe Patterson, in 1934, for the Senate. Roscoe Patterson was a Republican Senator, and he was from Springfield. Patterson played poker with them too. There was one occasion when Patterson and Truman were both in the poker game at the same time. They bore no animosity toward one another.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
List of Subjects Discussed
Kefauver, Estes, 52-53
Tanapag Air Patrol, 46