Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
Oral History Interview with
David H. Stowe and William J. Bray
February 12, 1973
Jerry N. Hess
HESS: Mr. Stowe, in your first interview with Charles Morrissey in 1963 you briefly discussed Dr. John R. Steelman's operation in the White House, but I wonder if we couldn't just go into that subject just a little deeper. In some interviews I've had I've gained the impression that some members who served on the White House staff did not have a clear idea in mind as to just what Dr. Steelman's role was in the White House. I've heard it expressed that the Special Counsel was a policy adviser and that Dr. Steelman handled the day-to-day affairs of the White House, but just how did you see Dr. Steelman's role?
STOWE: Well, it's a little difficult to separate Dr. Steelman's role in the White House in the early days when I first worked with him and his role as the head
of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion.
Briefly, as you probably know, Dr. Steelman had been Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for a number of years when it was in the Department of Labor. In that capacity he became recognized as one of the country's top flight mediators, and I think he would probably rank, in almost anybody's ranking, among the best half dozen we've had in the field of labor relations in many years.
I am not familiar with his role in the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion. I'm not familiar with what precisely that office did, because at that time I was in the Bureau of the Budget; but I do know in the early days in the White House he was an Administrative Assistant to President Truman and Director of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion.
This latter office was being gradually liquidated. The war was over, and the functions were being gradually phased out, so he had a residual staff, a group of people who had come from OWMR into the White House. Consequently, he had a disproportionately large staff in the White House. A good many of the people who worked on his staff, up to the time they left, or at the end of the administration, were people that had
come from the OWMR and were on some of the residual duties which were slipped into the White House, one way or the other.
And I'd like to talk about what he did as The Assistant to the President. Now, my understanding was that he did serve briefly with the title of Administrative Assistant and then became The Assistant. That you would have to check; I'm not sure, because when I knew him he held the title of The Assistant to the President.
HESS: Well, I have the list of the staff here, and he was not really an Administrative Assistant; he was what was called a Special Assistant to the President, for about one year. From December 29, '45 to December 12, '46, he was Special Assistant to the President, and then he was The Assistant to the President. You know, I've heard it both ways. I've heard that the "The" was capitalized (not that it makes much difference), and I've heard that it wasn't capitalized.
STOWE: Well, I always understood it was capitalized.
HESS: Well, I have too, except I believe in that Neustadt report that I mentioned before we started, that Mr. [Richard E.] Neustadt mentioned that one day when he was waiting to talk to Dr. Steelman and he was looking around his office, he noticed the commission on the
wall and noticed that the "The" was lower case, but that's neither here nor there.
STOWE: Well, let's talk about what Dr. Steelman did. I think basically he was involved in the day-by-day operation of the Government, as perhaps the number one staff assistant so engaged in the White House as distinguished from the legal counsel, who worked more in the field of policy and political matters, on relations to Congress, etc.
Dr. Steelman was able to do this because many of the things that come to the White House in terms of government operation also involve some conflict or potential conflict, between various departments and agencies of the Government. As a mediator, Dr. Steelman had the ability of getting into problems of that type, either before they developed or after they developed, and working out arrangements, a "rapprochement," whatever you want to call it, in such a way as to keep these problems away from the President. And I think, unquestionably, President Truman relied very substantially on Dr. Steelman, in this phase of White House operations.
In addition to that, having been the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and having had to work with labor and management in the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, Dr.
Steelman was probably not only the most knowledgeable man in the field of labor relations in the Government, but he had a whole host of associations with management and with the major trade union presidents and officers. So when disputes or problems became difficult, vis-a-vis either management or labor, or both, he was able-- either working through the duly constituted agencies of the Government concerned with the problem, or actually bringing the problems on occasion right into the White House where he dealt with them as The Assistant to the President--to work out major labor management problems. These were not necessarily confined to disputes, but often they were disputes.
So, this was an area in which he probably did a substantial amount of work, which other members of the White House staff might or might not know about for the simple reason that many times when you're in negotiation you don't negotiate through the newspapers, or through any kind of public relations. You do it very quietly and hope to get the situation, whatever it might be, resolved.
HESS: There are some historians who speculate, or point out, that having a labor man right in the White House, so close to the President, cut out the Department of Labor or at least lessened its importance, and therefore if a dispute arose, the partners in the
dispute would not really bargain in the Department of Labor because they knew that it wasn't going to end there. They knew that this man was sitting in the White House, so why waste time with the Department of Labor when we are going to move right on to the White House? Do you think that caused difficulties for the Department of Labor?
STOWE: Well, I think first of all it depends on perhaps the White House's own philosophy of how to deal with major labor-management disputes. Now, I an talking about disputes and not broad problems. Relations of management and labor such as we had during the time of price-wage controls oftentimes were not disputes; they were matters of relationships. The Government, particularly the White House, worked with these parties.
Returning now to your question of disputes in the Department of Labor, first of all I point out to you that the two major labor dispute-resolving agencies, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and the National Mediation Board, are independent agencies. They are not in the Department of Labor. Consequently, and I think over the years I've heard many people from both those agencies regret the fact that there is no one, or has been no one, in succeeding administrations that understands labor, understands the problems of
settling disputes; they abhor the whole thing, wish it would go away. Also, the general policy has been in subsequent administrations to have these independent agencies report through the Secretary of Labor. Now this creates a couple of problems. First of all, independent agencies, whether it's right or wrong, like to maintain their independence.
HESS: Does the National Mediation Board report today through the Secretary of Labor?
STOWE: Yes, we report through the Secretary of Labor.
The second thing is that oftentimes the Secretary of Labor, not having any day-by-day responsibility for the resolution of disputes, is unknowledgeable in the given dispute and the problems and the background as anybody just sitting in the White House. I think it's a long debate. Each President has organized it a little differently. No one has had anything like the Steelman office, so to speak. Since then, under President Kennedy there was at least one person over there who was getting to develop a considerable amount of knowledge, and the independent agencies tended to gravitate towards him. But it depends a little bit, first of all, on the orders that the President has given to the Secretary of Labor and to the independent agencies; and secondly, on the interest of the
Secretary of Labor in the resolution of disputes.
HESS: Do you think that your task as Chairman of the National Mediation Board would be easier today if there were someone in a comparable position as Dr. Steelman?
STOWE: According to my own personal philosophy, I do, because I grew up under that system. I understand its advantages. I recognize that many people feel that it is not the best way to do it, that it brings labor disputes in too close to the Presidential office. I think there is considerable merit in what they say; but to answer that--yes philosophically I would like to see it.
HESS: How long did you work for Dr. Steelman?
STOWE: I came in in September of '47 and was supposed to leave in September of '48. I remained on, and after the election the President designated me as an Administrative Assistant.
HESS: I think that was in March of '49.
HESS: Now, we have lists with a few people who served on Dr. Steelman's staff. I have just taken this off of a long list of people who served, but some of those people could have served after you left. Does your eye
land upon anyone that we should mention? Any particular duties that person had, anything of interest about any of those people come to mind?
STOWE: Yes. First of all, when I became Administrative Assistant to the President, Dr. Steelman was looking for someone to more or less replace me as his assistant, and that person was Harold Enarson. Harold Enarson went over there, it says here, on September 5th of 1950. I thought it was earlier than that. He more or less took over the operations in Dr. Steelman's office as sort of an executive assistant. He did not have the deputy title that I had or didn't get into a lot of the things that I had, but he did take over as a Special Assistant in Dr. Steelman's office, and he remained there until 1952 when he was made a member of the Wage Stabilization Board during the later part of the Korean war.
Similarly, so did Mr. Russell Andrews. He went over there. Both of these gentlemen worked for me in the Bureau of the Budget, and this was in effect, I suppose, how their names came up for consideration, and they went over. It wasn't until Mr. Enarson went down to the board that Andrews came over, but I will say that they did much the same job--actually working within John Steelman's department as his assistant.
HESS: Did you work closely with those men, for instance during the activities of the 1952 steel strike?
STOWE: Well, the 1952 steel strike was primarily worked on by Dr. Steelman in his capacity, Mr. [Charles S.] Murphy in his capacity, and myself in whatever capacity I had outside of the labor relations field at that time. So, I would say we were the three people who were most concerned.
I noticed on here you have another name, Milton P. Kayle. Mr. Kayle was my assistant. He never worked in Dr. Steelman's office. Each of the Administrative Assistants had an assistant.
HESS: Oh, he was your assistant?
STOWE: Yes, he was my assistant as Administrative Assistant to the President, just as Neustadt was assistant to Murphy.
HESS: Well, we have so many lists about the people who worked in the White House and heaven only knows where some of this information comes from. Yes, I have him down here as Special Assistant to the President.
STOWE: Yes, it may very well be that was their payroll title.
HESS: Yes, that could well have been his payroll title.
STOWE: They had a lot of payroll titles. For example, when I first went over there, I was Administrative Assistant in the White House Office. I shared the title with Rose Conway. Subsequently, I became Administrative Assistant to the President, one of the, quote, "six who were supposed to have a passion for anonymity." I'm not sure that my title was changed, except on the personnel records.
HESS: Payroll records.
STOWE: In fact, I didn't know until just recently that during the period of time from September 30th until whatever the date was, March 9th--when I was finally made Administrative Assistant to the President--that I was carried on the Bureau of the Budget payroll as Assistant Chief of the Estimates Division, which was a promotion from what I had been when I went over in the White House. I discovered that only by looking through my own personnel file. Now as head of an agency, I have access to my own file.
The next group here--Mr. William Bray, Mr. [James V.] Fitzgerald, Mr. [John T.] Gibson, Mr. [Dallas C.] Halverstadt and Mr. [Charles W.] Jackson--I know that all of them, except perhaps Mr. Bray, were people who had been on the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion staff. Mr. Fitzgerald was an old
newspaperman and handled public relations more or less in terms of the OWMR program. After that was over, I guess, he remained with Dr. Steelman. However, he retired shortly after I went over to Dr. Steelman's staff.
Mr. Gibson was handling the advertising liaison operation. You may recall the Advertising Council was giving, during the Korean war, a substantial number of news spots and radio and television to the Government, paid for I guess by the industry, and there was always a problem about what program was entitled to receive this. All of the various departments and agencies were trying to get some advertising, and finally after the OWMR was reduced, or eliminated, that function was kept in the White House. It continued as sort of an allocation function, as I understand it, and as an advisory function both to the White House and to the Advertising Council. It involved deciding how free advertising of a Government, public-interest type should be distributed, what programs were entitled and what programs were of lesser entitlement.
The same thing was true of Mr. Halverstadt, except that he dealt with the motion picture media and worked with various Government agencies and the motion picture industry in terms, again, of what had priority. Everybody wants to get all the freebies they can and
these two industries, as I understand it--and this is purely hearsay, really, as I understand it--they had said they would continue to make this free media time available, provided somebody in the Government would decide the priorities of the thing. So, these two gentlemen, as I understand it, remained on to do that.
Now, Mr. Jackson's function also was a residual function from the OWMR, but frankly I really don't know what particular media he dealt with.
HESS: All right, we're ready to move on to the 1952 steel strike, which is a thorny subject. I have looked up some dates and will read them off. On November 30th of 1951 Conciliation Director Cyrus Ching reported to the White House that bargaining was hopelessly deadlocked. December 21st of 1951 was the contract expiration date. On December 21st of 1951 President Truman certified the steel dispute to the Wage Stabilization Board for recommendations for settlement. On January 7th, 1952, the Wage Stabilization Board began the steel case. They were unable to meet the initial deadline of February 23rd, and two extensions were worked out. The union accepted chairman Nathan Feinsinger's request for a delay in the strike until April 8th; that was April 4, plus 96 hours notice. On March 19th, 1952, the public labor members of the WSRB reached a majority recommendation, with industry representatives bitterly
dissenting. The majority recommended what was termed a generous wage and fringe benefit clause, set by the press as 26 cents per hour. As you know there are many different ways to arrive at that particular thing; some people said it was 26 and some said it was as low as 18. The 26-cent package looked big to some people. This is what I saw in the press.
The union promptly accepted the recommendations and the industry promptly rejected them. On March 24th [Charles E.] Wilson visited Key West; the trouble that he had at the airport on the way back is something you will recall. He resigned on March 30th.
Dr. Steelman then was designated as a temporary replacement for Wilson, and was announced as the new head of Office of Defense Mobilization, ODM, on March 30th. On April 8th the President ordered the steel plants seized to avert a strike. One April 29 there was the Judge [David] Pine decision that ruled the seizure unconstitutional. On Saturday, May the 3rd was the first meeting at the White House, and I have it down here that this was when you first met with [Phillip] Murray and Benjamin Fairless. On Friday, May 2nd, Murray ordered a return to work. On May 3rd, at 5 p.m., the Supreme Court announced that a hearing would be held on May 12th. On June 2nd the Supreme Court ruled the seizure unlawful. From the 6th to 9th of
June, meetings were held at the White House.
Does that give us sort of a backbone to work with?
STOWE: Well, it does, but I'm not sure about the latter dates. Let me first of all make this fairly clear, that when you talk about the steel dispute of 1952, you're talking about a lot more than a labor dispute. Now, the role I played in it, which we'll discuss later, was only as a co-mediator along with Dr. Steelman. It all occurred after [Nathan P.] Feinsinger's attempt in New York, and the failure of that; then we took over and in effect brought the dispute into the White House. I had nothing to do whatsoever with it during the period of the early part of that dispute when it was a wage-price problem, with the Wage Stabilization Board.
In that period of time I was engaged in other activities. As a matter of fact, I was in Europe for a part of the time. I have asked some people to go over some of the documents that you furnished me, and I understand from those who were close to that part of the problem, that basically those documents are correct. I have forgotten who it was, whether it was Neustadt or somebody who had written about it. Do you recall the documents?
HESS: Well, Grant McConnell had a study on one of those;
and I think one was in a book that Harold Enarson had written that was supposed to be a gathering together of different labor studies as a chapter in a book.
STOWE: There are oftentimes labor disputes that are only a part of the problem, just as the Senate the other day recognized that the current labor dispute on the Penn Central is only a small part of the problems of the Penn Central Railroad. Therefore, to talk about a labor dispute as spanning a total problem, you're wrong. And if you think of the labor dispute solely by itself, you're in trouble. Dr. Steelman and I conducted at various times, between the actual beginning of the strike and the final termination of it, three sessions, each of them lasting from three to five days. Dr. Steelman also had been involved in the earlier phases of the dispute, but I had not. So I can only talk about the mediation efforts.
Now here's where I have a problem. I have been unable to locate my notes on these sessions, so this is one I'm just a little lost on. The only thing I know is how it finally ended. We had gone through about 120 days of strike and it seemed that every time we tried anything it was like shoveling out one shovel full of sand and two came in on top of it. We had gone the route of the inherent powers of the President to authorize the seizure. The Department of Justice had
advised us that an alternative route which we had considered, mainly the route of using the Selective Service Act, had really been foreclosed by the fact that Congress when it reenacted the Selective Service law, just prior to this dispute, had eliminated that section. It could well be argued that it was the intent of Congress that this procedure was no longer available to the Executive. Now, it is my understanding that this is why the Department of Justice took the route of inherent powers, on which the seizure decision was based and which was, in turn, overturned by the Supreme Court.
At the very end, when we were having great difficulties and were getting into a very difficult situation, Mr. [Charles S.] Murphy one morning in a staff meeting indicated to the President that he thought that the time had come, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, to now try the Selective Service route. This would involve placing orders and insisting on compliance with penalties for non-compliance. The President came around to the staff meeting and asked for comments. I took a position contrary to Mr. Murphy's and suggested that really the only two people that could settle the dispute where Mr. Fairless and Mr. Murray. Before trying the rather dubious Selective Service route, I felt the President
ought to try to call the two gentlemen in and see if he couldn't persuade them to really sit down and get an agreement in principle.
Dr. Steelman indicated that although he had tried that, he thought it would not be amiss to go ahead and try again. I was asked to prepare the memorandum for the President. Dr. Steelman was asked to contact Mr. Fairless, and I was asked to contact Mr. Murray. As you know, you don't ask people like that to come in and sit down with the President unless you know you're going to have an affirmative answer.
On the following Saturday morning (I think it was a Saturday morning), I went to the President's office. Mr. Murray, Mr. Fairless, the President, and I were the four people in the room. I don't know where John Steelman was. I never have understood why he wasn't there; he may have been out of town. The President took the first part of the agreed-upon memorandum, a copy of which he had in front of him. It was a strong exhortation to Mr. Fairless and Mr. Murray that they should sit down; they should work this thing out; the country needed it; the public demanded it; and he was asking them to do it. He did a very eloquent job. He then told them to go into the Cabinet Room and that he didn't want to see them again until they had an agreement.
The second part of the memorandum, which he had directed me to prepare, contained a statement that if they did not reach an agreement that he was then going to try to use the Selective Service Act to bring this dispute to a halt. I was somewhat amazed that he didn't ever enunciate this to these two gentlemen, because it was in the memorandum in front of him. But he didn't; he simply stopped with, "You go into the Cabinet Room; get a settlement. Dave will be available if you need anything."
About three hours later they called me and indicated that they wanted to see the President. They went in to see the President; Mr. Murray and Mr. Fairless announced that they had an agreement in principle, and they were sure that they could work out the details. That was the way that it finally got over.
Since I can't find the notes I just wouldn't want to attempt to describe in detail each of the three major negotiation sessions. I do have some recollections, however. For example, I think it was the second session, but I'm not sure, where the steel workers agreed that if we could figure out a way to operate a portion of the steel industry that was necessary to keep the pipelines filled for Korea, they would be willing to do it. I recall that President
Murray of the Steelworkers assigned then Secretary-Treasurer David MacDonald to work with me on this. MacDonald and I worked for 5, 6 or 7 days. The only conclusion that we came to was that you just couldn't do it; there was no way to split up or know where an ingot was going, when it went into civilian production, whether it was going into plate for a tank, or where it was going. There were many things like that which came out--attempts to resolve the strike partially or in toto--but I can't recall whether they were in our first session, our second session, or our third session.
HESS: During one of those sessions didn't you go off by yourself though, with Murray and Fairless and meet with them, just them and yourself?
STOWE: Yes. Well, when I say just by myself, actually John Steelman was called out, so that timewise I was there most of the time. I forget whether the President called John in or not, but that was when we almost had an agreement. Again, I can't recall which one of these sessions it was but it seems to me that this is the one just before we heard the notification that the Supreme Court was upsetting the seizure. We almost had some kind of an understanding at that point.
HESS: What went wrong?
STOWE: They went out to lunch, and during that time somebody found out that the Supreme Court decision was going to come down later that day and everybody froze in place.
HESS: Wasn't one of the meetings held during the time when President Truman was on television, showing the White House that had been reconstructed? So instead of having their meeting, they were watching the President on television. Do you recall anything about that?
STOWE: I don't recall that; it may well be because as you know in mediation, the mediators oftentimes select people from one side or the other to talk to each other in private conversations. I don't remember sitting and looking at it myself.
HESS: Do you know why the Department of Commerce was chosen as the responsible agency to operate the steel mills rather than the Department of Defense?
STOWE: Yes. I think the operation of a steel mill is somewhat different from that of a railroad, for instance, in which the Transportation Corps of the Defense Department was well-equipped to do it. I really don't know, but management's relationship to the Government, which is basically through the Department of Commerce, might have played some part in that.
HESS: Do you recall Secretary [Charles] Sawyer's reaction?
HESS: Now, we've mentioned the fact that the Government wanted to go the inherent powers route. Holmes Baldridge, I believe, was Solicitor General at that time...
HESS: ...and he stated before Judge Pine on April the 23rd and the 24th, in effect, that the Executive had unlimited power in an emergency, and from what I read, the reaction of the President and members of the White House staff was somewhat unfavorable to that particular pronouncement.
STOWE: Well, first of all, as I recall, the War Powers Act was no longer in existence. The War Powers Act did, as I understand, give the President almost unlimited authority, and it was under the War Powers Act that we did seize a number of plants during World War II and place them under Government operation in order to gain essential components of whatever it was we needed.
There was the legal school who felt that the President had these rights inherent in his office without the War Powers Act. Apparently, this was what Mr. Baldridge was in effect saying. I don't feel that
the White House staff felt as strongly as that; we thought it was at best tenuous, but it probably was not as tenuous as the Selective Service approach. It was my understanding that the clause under which we would have been moving was taken out of the Selective Service Act in the last reenactment, and one might well argue from its legislative history that Congress was in effect denying us that right. It may have been left out as an oversight--I don't know--but Justice felt we were better off to go with the inherent powers principle. Unfortunately, we did go with it, and the Court, I guess, established the principle that the President does not have the broadest of inherent powers, at least in this field.
HESS: What would be your overall opinion of John Steelman's effectiveness as a labor mediator and a labor adviser to the President?
STOWE: Well, as a labor mediator I would say that he was one of the best mediators that we've had in the field of labor mediation in the last 30 or 40 years. I hate to rank anybody, but he's certainly among the top ten without any doubt, perhaps even higher. His advice to the President with respect to these matters came from his close relationship with, and longstanding and great acceptance by, management and by labor. Therefore, he oftentimes was able, through private conversation with
key labor leaders and key management leaders, to really know what they were thinking and what they might do or react to.
HESS: He provided a direct channel.
STOWE: That's right.
HESS: Anything else on this steel strike situation in '52?
STOWE: Well, someday I shall be able to get my notes and really put together what went on at each of these meetings. However, even without them, I don't think it's such a great loss, because the greater part of this problem, like many, was not just the labor dispute, it was the economic factors that were involved, particularly that of price-wage stabilization. For example, how much do you have to raise your prices to meet a wage increase? When you have a stabilization policy then you add a whole new dimension to the problem, for the Government has a foot--more than a foot--in the door; they are sitting right at the table telling what you can do and what you can't do. When you have one group of people like the Feinsinger group [Wage Stabilization Board] trying to get the dispute resolved and another group trying to get the economic stabilization resolved, and when those two become incompatible, then you've got a problem
which is created by the situation of a Government stabilization program taking precedence over labor disputes. So the labor dispute becomes secondary. Yet, we had to get a resolution.
HESS: We have been joined by Mr. William J. Bray. The subject is now the 1960 campaign and Mr. Truman's involvement in it. Mr. Stowe, would you put down for the record just how you became associated with the effort in 1960?
STOWE: Well, during the congressional campaign two years earlier, Mr. Murphy and Mr. [David D.] Lloyd had traveled primarily with Mr. Truman, working on speeches that he made in behalf of some of the Congressional Democrats. In the presidential campaign of 1960 both Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Murphy were a part of the [Lyndon B.] Johnson entourage, and they asked me, since I had offices with Mr. Murphy, if I would take the President on about three or four speeches that he had agreed to make during the Kennedy campaign.
After finding out that this, normally, would involve my flying out to Independence, picking up the President, flying with him to wherever he was going, returning to Kansas City with him, and then my coming back to Washington, D.C., I agreed I would do it.
It turned out to be quite a different story. The
first trip I made with him was to Marion, Indiana on September 5th, for a Labor Day speech. I had fortunately taken my young son along with me; he was then about 19 or 20 years old, and there were two things on that trip that I recall very vividly.
The first [thing] was that it was impossible for one person to do all the things that would be necessary in traveling with a former President. You know, at that time, a former President did not have Secret Service protection; we had no press representative, we had nothing. Just traveling along with friends, so to speak, put him at the mercy of newspaper reporters, and restless crowds and everything else. It was clear that one person couldn't possibly do all that was necessary. The second thing that I remember from that trip to Marion was that when his speech was over somebody called from the crowd, asking him how come he was out there campaigning for John Kennedy when he had been against Kennedy and had not supported him in the nominating convention.
Well, Mr. Truman replied to that by saying that yes, he had been for Stuart Symington, a Missourian, and he would like to have seen him receive the nomination. However, the convention had spoken, and in the meantime he had had the time to look carefully at John Kennedy's record. And with that he took off and
made another speech on the subject of Kennedy's record.
We returned that same day to Independence; I then flew back the next day to Washington. At that point, the President and I had discussed the inability of one person to handle the details. Also, it looked like the number of speeches was already beginning to grow. We understood that Mr. Bray was with the committee [Democratic National Committee] and might be available. Mr. Bray had operated the President's [railroad] car in the 1948 campaign; he was an experienced campaigner, and he knew a hell of a sight more about handling political campaigns than I would ever learn. So, the President asked the National Committee to make Mr. Bray available, and so Bill Bray joined us on the next trip to Spencer, Iowa, and was with us throughout.
The two of us then handled Mr. Truman throughout the entire trips which you have listed here.
HESS: We should add that we all three have a copy of a list that was provided by the Truman Library. It's been titled "1960 Political Speeches Given by Former President Harry S. Truman," and I might add that just before we started recording, these two gentlemen have found several mistakes which we will correct as we go along.
Mr. Bray, what do you recall about when you joined? What do you recall about your first day on the
BRAY: Well, of course, going back 13 years right at the present time, one has to have a little bit of help in refreshing one's memory. But, as I recollect, why, we flew on out to Kansas City to join the President on these trips. I imagine we were out there the day before, making whatever arrangements, and contacting the people in the towns that we were going to visit. After all, as Dave has pointed out, there was a lot of extracurricular activity in making sure that we had the proper accommodations, which sometimes local committees do not give. The National Committee did not advance anything either for the train or other things.
HESS: How were the itineraries established for the various trips? How was it decided that the President would speak in the various towns that he did?
STOWE: Well, Jerry, as I indicated when we were first asked to do this, it was thought that there would be four or five trips. In all, it would have been, sort of--fly out, pick him up, fly there, come back to Independence, but then as you can tell from...
HESS: It looks like things grew, didn't it?
STOWE: Yes, things grew rather substantially.
BRAY: There was a lot of places that wanted him to speak that we just had to turn down because there just wasn't the time.
STOWE: But the arrangements varied. Well, the next group we're going to talk about is Texas. That trip was pretty well arranged by Johnson who was the candidate for Vice President; he had his personal representative with us throughout the entire trip. But there were others where we had to call up the night before to find out where they wanted us, what time they wanted us, what kind of security arrangements, if any, had been made, were they going to have television, were they going to have radio, or could they get radio; that is, could they get these various things. In fact, Bill and I used to stay up late. The President used to go to bed about 10:30 or 11 o'clock every night, and we'd be on the phone until 2 in the morning...
BRAY: Easily, two o'clock.
STOWE: ...doublechecking every little arrangement. Frankly, this was the kind of area which I probably would have wandered through, but Bill had had experience in this. He knew what was required, and we just had to get on the phone and make sure all these pieces fit. Now sometimes we had them fairly well worked out a few days in advance; other times we were
still working them out at 2 or 3 in the morning.
HESS: Most of this was handled directly between yourselves and the local arrangements committee of the town you were going into, right?
STOWE: Yes, the local arrangements were, but the decision where we were going was pretty much made between...
BRAY: The National Committee.
STOWE: ...the National Committee and Mr. Truman, or us, or whoever they got a hold of. They knew generally, once this thing began to evolve, they knew the section of the country we were going to be in. As you can see, the sections fall into Texas and the whole belt of Tennessee, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi and...
HESS: Yes, a Southern trip, and then a Western trip and a Northern trip.
STOWE: A Northeast trip. As I say, we can't really characterize this; some of the arrangements were fairly complete in a given town, and then in the next town we didn't know what we were supposed to do.
BRAY: Well, we had to play it by ear a lot of times when we would get there, because naturally the size of the crowds was in so many places beyond even our
expectations. They had grown so big, and it was evident that they remembered him from the '48 campaign when he was going out traveling to these parts of the country.
Why don't you go ahead, Dave; maybe you want to say how Johnson sent his plane on up to Kansas City.
STOWE: Sure. The trip to Texas had been arranged pretty much I think between the then candidate for Vice President, Johnson, and President Truman. Johnson sent his plane with his pilot to pick us up, and he also sent a Congressman, Congressman Homer Thornberry, along.
BRAY: Yes, he was his campaign manager for Texas. He was the Kennedy-Johnson chairman of the Texas campaign.
STOWE: Right. So, this was a fairly well-organized trip in that we had transportation; we didn't have to worry about that, and we knew where we were going.
The first stop was in Texarkana. Do you remember who it was Bill, a Congressman from Texarkana? Oh, he introduced the President for a luncheon speech, and there was not a very large crowd. It was more an indoor crowd.
BRAY: I just can't place it right now; can't place him.
STOWE: That was a luncheon thing, and then we flew on down
to San Antonio where we were going to have a major speech that night. Of course, I suppose this speech could be best characterized as a real rip-roaring speech. There must have been, oh, I don't know, a thousand people in that hall.
BRAY: Dave--if I remember correctly there were between two and three thousand. It was a $50 fund raising dinner and, Dave, the place was packed; the hall was packed there in San Antonio.
HESS: According to the New York Times, in that speech Mr. Truman said, "If you vote for Nixon you ought to go to hell." Is that right or not?
STOWE: Well, Jerry, let me tell you this; this was the kind of a crowd who responded to Mr. Truman, and it's the kind of crowd that Mr. Truman responded to.
HESS: A give 'em hell crowd for a give 'em hell speech, right?
STOWE: Bill and I were sitting together, and we had a script of the speech and we were spending a good bit of our time trying to write all over the margins. He was ad libbing and going along. He was responding in real give 'em hell style and right in the middle of it he said, "And they can go to hell." The question immediately became, "Well, who did he tell to go to
hell?" And at that particular point neither Bill nor I could figure it out, and neither could the people right around us, because that was...
BRAY: Well, didn't he say, or in answer to a question reply, "I don't give them hell; I just tell them the truth and they think it's hell," or something?
STOWE: Well, he used that line, but also I remember when he said, "And they can go to hell." I tried to piece it together sometime afterwards. I can recall going down on the plane, and Congressman Thornberry suggested that no mention be made of the "Sugarcrats," and that they felt that they had them pretty well under control down there. At one particular part of his speech, Mr. Truman was reiterating a statement that he had reiterated many times in his life, concerning loyalty to the Democratic Party, and how much he owes to the Democratic Party. It seems to me that he was just waltzing up to using the name that he had been told not to use, when he substituted, "And they can go to hell."
But the next morning, it seemed that everybody claimed the honor [of being vilified], you know. We had about four or five claimants from various religious groups, the Dixiecrats, and everybody else. Republicans and everybody were claiming the honor. I suppose who he said should "go to hell" will be just as
various people remembered it; that was my recollection of it. I know it created quite a furor.
BRAY: Well, it brought down the house.
STOWE: It sure did.
BRAY: But there was another interesting thing too, I think, and that was going down south and showing the human side and the warmth of the President. Do you remember, Dave, while going down on the plane I mentioned to him that he was going to be in the hometown of his friend Archbishop Ludvig [Robert Emmett] Lucey?
STOWE: Oh, yes.
BRAY: He didn't recall at the moment. Then he said, "Oh, by the way, as soon as I get there I want to get in touch with him; I want to go visit him." Of course, some of the people were concerned because this was at the height of the religious question, and they just didn't know how it would turn out. But, of course, the President said, "I don't care what they think; he's my friend, and I'm going to be in his town and I'm going to visit him."
So, we finally got his number. But to show you how both of them, both the Archbishop and the President, were cognizant of what goes on in the world, you remember when we got to the hotel the first thing
he said to you, Dave, was to call Archbishop Lucey up so he could set a time. So, they got talking on the phone together and the Archbishop explained that he would like to come see him, but this question on religion was of so much concern maybe it wasn't the thing to do right now. But the President said, "Well, you're my friend and I'll come to see my friends and I don't care what others say about it."
Anyhow, they straightened it out, and they were satisfied that it would be only a phone conversation. I thought that was quite human at that.
STOWE: One other thing, Bill, that you may recall: later that night after the speech and in addition to all the consternation about who went to hell and all of that, we got a notice about the President's planning to speak to some junior high school. They asked him to dedicate it. I thought it was going to be called the Harry S. Truman Junior High...
BRAY: That's right.
STOWE: ...made up mostly of Spanish-speaking Americans. He had agreed while he was in San Antonio to go out there and do that. Apparently, there was an altercation between the teachers and the Board of Education, down there of some kind. They had a union and I guess they probably used this to attract
attention. Anyway, the announcement came in that they were going to set up a picket line, and we were sort of caught on the horns of a dilemma. The President did not want to disappoint all these young Spanish-Americans who wanted the opportunity to see a former President and to have the school dedicated. So, he really wanted to keep his commitment, and we had the problem of whether he could cross the picket line. I guess we spent, oh, three hours, up until about 2 in the morning getting to the people that were involved in it. Finally, we got the building trades council to help us, and I guess they, finally, in the wee hours, agreed that they would not picket us.
BRAY: They were coming in all during the night and in the morning; that is what kept us up so late that night.
STOWE: We had these people in, trying to get them to take their picket line down.
BRAY: Also, it was the next day when the President decided that he was going to stop over and visit his old friend. . .
STOWE: Oh, yes, you ought to tell that one, Bill.
BRAY: Vice President [John Nance] Garner. And so, we finally got over there to...
HESS: Uvalde, isn't it?
BRAY: It's at Uvalde, yes. He knew Truman was coming. He'd had the gout, and he was getting around a little bit, but not too well. Anyhow, he was just jubilant when he saw President Truman and Sam Rayburn. About 8 or 9 more were also in the room there. So the President, in his usual jovial way, got Mr. Garner right into the business. We'd been there for at least about half an hour and he said, "Jack, when are we going to strike a blow for liberty?" Oh, with that, why, he just got beside himself.
He said, "Oh, just a minute." He goes into the next room, and goes clear behind the bed--he was sleeping on one of those old-fashioned old iron beds that you used to see in pictures about fifty years ago--and right behind it, he picked around and pulled out three bottles. I said, "Let me carry them."
And he said, "No, indeed." He said, "I'm going to carry them out myself to the President." So he brought them out. And, of course, there was a lot of laughter. We were to leave then in about 10 minutes, to proceed along and finish the rest of the trip. The President was going to speak at Baylor University in Waco that evening. Being in Texas, he had determined that he was going to be sure to stop by and see his old crony. They really had a fine time together, even though it
was very short. It did a lot for Mr. Garner.
STOWE: We went, then, Jerry; we went up to Waco, and I suppose this is where the problems of campaigning became very precise and very difficult. First of all, the President had a very well-rounded, beautiful speech on religion in politics.
HESS: Do you recall who wrote it?
HESS: Where it came from?
STOWE: No. Normally, I think it would have come from Murphy. I don't know, but it was a very carefully, well-prepared text.
BRAY: Now, if you will recall, too, while it was true that he had a text and an outline and all, we went over that about three or four times, because there were certain things that had happened, particularly in San Antonio. Also, if my memory serves me correctly, this was the first time that we were able to get some television time.
STOWE: Right, that's true.
BRAY: And this was going to cover pretty near the whole state of Texas.
STOWE: Right, it was statewide.
BRAY: And in view of the fact that the Kennedy situation was about to come up, the President wanted to be sure that he got everything in in that particular space of time.
Go ahead Dave, if you want to.
STOWE: Well, that was true; it was a very important speech. The Speaker introduced the President and the first slight minor problem was that he ran a little over on his introduction and we were getting awfully nervous whether the President would be able to finish before we went off the air. It turned out it worked out all right, but it had us a little nervous. And after he realized it, it had the Speaker [Sam Rayburn] quite nervous, you know, along with . . .
HESS: Mr. Rayburn was there?
BRAY: Oh yes, Mr. Rayburn introduced him.
STOWE: However, the great problem was that because of the furor over the remarks in San Antonio the night before, the newspapers were still playing up that story and didn't carry what probably was one of the finest speeches on religion and religious freedom in politics that has ever been given.
BRAY: I would agree with that.
STOWE: And, you know, it just didn't get the coverage except on the air. You see, the newspapers and the boys from the rest of the country just didn't get any coverage on it.
BRAY: If you remember, Kennedy was out in California. Well, Truman was asked what he thought about the reaction to his speech in San Antonio. I believe what he said in substance was, "Well, I'll let Mrs. Truman answer that." Mrs. Truman practically answered that question, or made reference to it, and I think we did have a call the next morning.
STOWE: Well, actually the call, Bill, was, you know, every night at 6 o'clock, wherever we were, our time. We put in a call to Mrs. Truman. Bill and I had been over the speech with him a couple of times, and, as a matter of fact, we'd cut out a couple of paragraphs, not really because we thought we needed the time, but because we wanted to impress upon him that he had no time to leave the script and ad-lib at Baylor University, in a Baptist institution.
So, we were sitting there and came 6 o'clock. He was talking to Senator [Ralph W.] Yarborough, and I said "Mr. President, it's about time to put that call in to Independence."
He said, "Oh, wait a minute." Well, 6 o'clock arrived and we were both under pretty good instructions from Mr. Truman, in certain areas, about what we were supposed to do. This was one of them. I put the call in and chatted with Mrs. Truman for a minute or two, and I said, "Just a minute and I'll get the President."
So, I went to get him. When he left to go in, he turned to Senator Yarborough and said, "Well, I'm going to catch hell now." He was in there for about five or six minutes, talking with her.
STOWE: And when he came back out, he didn't have much to say, except, "I caught hell."
BRAY: He said he got the message.
HESS: She let him know about it?
HESS: Well, one point I want to check on here. On September 26th there was the first Kennedy-Nixon TV debate, and on October 7th, there was the second one. Now, that was before you joined the group at Spencer, Iowa. That's right; that was the day before. Did you hear the President speak? What did the President say?
Did he have anything to say about Mr. Nixon's first two TV debates?
BRAY: If I remember correctly, he thought that Mr. Kennedy was doing all right; he was doing very well. I don't recall the date.
STOWE: One story on Congressman Thornberry before we left San Antonio, where he was sitting out in the hall; do you remember that? You know, after the boss went to bed oftentimes he would bring in the local police or the state patrolman or whoever it was into the living room. We might need him there just in case of fire or anything like that. We didn't need them to keep people away from the door, so we'd bring them into the living room and let them sit in there. Bill and I had our room. It was during this evening in San Antonio that we had so much trouble with the strike, but to avoid bothering the President we were using my bedroom which was farther away from the President's bedroom. We had told the two officers that they could come on in and sit in there, and just what to watch for. After we got through all this strike thing in the wee hours of the morning, remember you walked out the door and there was Congressman Thornberry sitting in the chair where the policemen had been sitting, and we said, "What are you doing here, Mr. Congressman?"
He said, "Well, I think maybe the boys went down to get a little coffee and I thought I had better cover for them while they were gone."
So, we said, "Come here, Mr. Congressman." We showed him the two officers sitting inside. But he would have been there; he was going to sit there [where the officers were stationed]. He was covering them to protect the President.
That was a very human sort of thing for Congressman Thornberry.
HESS: Not too many Congressmen will do something like that.
BRAY: That's right. Well, he thought to the contrary. He was a very fine man and he was always taking things very, very seriously and that was just another evidence of his activities.
STOWE: And then the other thing which was a sad note. Bill, do you remember your flying with the two pilots? Oh, there was one other thing that's not on this. Bill, we went into the ranch in Texas. We flew in there for a meeting of all of the state and county chairmen, and they all flew their own little airplanes in.
BRAY: Oh, that is right; that's not on here. That's important, so go ahead; you go ahead.
HESS: Whose ranch was it?
BRAY AND STOWE: This was L.B.J.'s.
HESS: L.B.J.'s ranch.
STOWE: Yes. We flew in there and we were to have lunch at the house. We did have lunch at the house.
BRAY: Yes, and this was a meeting of all of the state and the county chairmen, and all of the people who were donating, or had donated, or were in the process of donating good money.
STOWE: From Texas.
BRAY: From Texas; just from Texas. We were coming in there and the speeches were to be made by President Truman and Rayburn. As we were flying in, the President made a comment which was so very good and all. He looked out the window of the plane and here was sprawled all over the Texas ranch, these planes, little private planes, you know. And he said, "My God, Lyndon must have his own private airport." And it was true.
I'm glad you brought this one up. So, we got down there and John Connally was the chairman of the meeting. He was bringing up different candidates who were running for this and all, and President Truman was posing with them for pictures. He posed about 50 or 75
times with the leading people in Texas who were running for public office, both Congressmen and all. So after that, after a big barbecue lunch and all that sort of thing, why, we journeyed down to what he said was the Perdenales elms, whatever they were, right by river. I never will forget. I was sitting next to the President and the first speaker was John Connally. He was going to introduce Rayburn, and Rayburn in turn was to introduce the President.
Well, Connally got started, and it was the most fantastic talk that I'd ever heard. I had never seen the man before, and had heard only that he was the campaign manager down in Texas. He made a speech that just shook the limbs on the trees almost. My God, I turned to the President who was sitting there and I said, "Boss, where have you been hiding him?"
He said, "I've been thinking the same thing myself." He said, "This man has got to come out; he's terrific."
Dave, can you . . .
STOWE: Oh, President Truman later went to John Connally and said, "Look, you've got a future in this business if you can make speeches like that."
HESS: He thought he was a pretty good politician, huh?
STOWE: He had a future.
BRAY: I'm telling you it's too bad that we didn't have a tape recorder to get it, because it was fantastic. The President then got up and he roused them all up. So, as far as that meeting was concerned, everybody went away happy and satisfied, thinking there'd been wonderful things accomplished by that meeting.
STOWE: The other little thing on that trip, Bill--you remember you were chatting with the pilots, and you found out that one had four children, and the other had two, and you came back and told the President. Then, you got some note paper and he wrote each of the children a little note, signed them and sent them to them. It was tragic that these same two pilots were killed about a year afterwards.
BRAY: Dave, you're right about that--but I think it was just about a month later. It was just a month or two later, and they were bringing somebody into the L.B.J. ranch, and coming over the top they crashed. I think it was just a short time there afterwards that that happened.
STOWE: You know, I always thought how fortunate it was that Bill was thoughtful enough to get all these things signed, so the kids had some memento of their fathers flying Truman around.
HESS: One other point before we move on; how would you evaluate the assistance that you received from the Democratic National Committee back here in town?
BRAY: Being a little bit familiar with the National Committee over the years, having been with James A. Farley, and having had some connections with the National Committee even before his time, I think that they only had one thought in mind really, and that was Mr. Kennedy's campaign. I don't think that there was anything else. We were a passing fancy. I would imagine, and even the Johnson people might have thought that, too, because I think that they were pretty much running their own independent campaign. But I know as far as the Truman effort is concerned, they told us where they would like to see President Truman go and we were working it out from there.
HESS: Then, after Waco did you go back to Independence?
STOWE: Our next trip was in the East, and this is when we started chartering a plane. We had used a flying service in Kansas City on both the Marion, Indiana, and the Spencer, Iowa, trips. We had used President Johnson's plane on the Texas trip, but this was the
first time that we had to work out with the committee a real charter thing. I remember the one thing that Bill and I insisted on--no matter what kind of an airplane we flew we had to have two pilots up there. We weren't about to take off without two guys sitting up there that could fly that airplane. We had a little five-seater or six-seater job, which was a pretty good airplane, from a Kansas City operation. We used that airplane for the first time on a broad charter basis, I think, on this trip. We flew into Raleigh, North Carolina, and were met by Governor [Luther H.] Hodges. Again, in this particular trip the Governor had pretty well laid out where we were going to go and what we were going to do, and we had...
BRAY: I think the only thing there, Dave--and keep your train of thought--was that the President said to be sure and allow for two hours or so, for him to visit his son-in-law's parents, and say hello. They were not too far away from where we were going. Go ahead.
STOWE: That's right.
As a matter of fact, on the first day, on the 13th as I recall, we had lunch at the mansion with the Governor and some people that he had in there. Then, I'm not too clear on this, but it seems to me that the speech was either later that afternoon, or that
evening, out at the state fairgrounds, because I recall sort of chatting with Mr. Truman. It had been a long, long time since either one of us had seen one, but somebody had pulled out one of those old "Hoovercarts" that they used to have down there in the first Roosevelt campaign. It was an old rear axle of an automobile with some boards on it and hooked up to a mule. I think it was at the fairgrounds and most likely the state fair.
I don't recall, particularly that speech there, but the next day we were going to go on a tour with the Governor.
The President had said that he wanted to stop by Zebulon and see the Daniels there and we did stop by there for about two hours and visited with Mr. & Mrs. [E. Clifton, Sr.] Daniel. Then Mr. Daniel joined us and went on with this sort of cavalcade through the rest of eastern Carolina.
I don't believe your list shows that Nashville and Wilson were both scheduled speeches, but, if I recall correctly, we made a number of stops. We'd ride in the Governor's limousine with his chauffeur and the Governor, until we'd get on the outskirts of town, and then we'd have to shift and get into an open air car so that we could go through the town and everybody could see Mr. Truman.
Now, surprisingly, this is the first time in the history of North Carolina, I understand, that a President or a Presidential candidate or a former President had ever been in that section of the state.
So, the net result was that in every little town that we went through--it seemed to me that we were getting in and out of the automobile continuously all day long--every little town we went through the crowds were absolutely fantastic, even though we weren't going to stop there and have a major speech. The President oftentimes would just stop and say hello or wave, or if somebody had a little mike set up he generally would talk to them. I remember that was quite a thing.
Then we stopped in Nashville, which was Congressman [Harold D.] Cooley's home town, if I remember correctly. We went by Congressman Cooley's house and had our lunch there, and then we went on from here over to the square, or some public place in the middle of town, where they had a stand set up, and the President spoke there. Then we went on down to Wilson and there we also went to somebody's house for refreshments. Again, I can't remember too much about what we did in Wilson, can you Bill? I know we had a speech there.
BRAY: I think it was a reception. I think that's what it was. Went to this party's home where the local
Democrats were having a reception.
HESS: In most of his speeches was Mr. Truman speaking in favor of local candidates, or did he spend more of his time speaking about the national ticket? Just what was the tenor of most of his speeches?
STOWE: By and large he was speaking about the national ticket.
BRAY: Yes. Yes.
STOWE: He only brought in local candidates when it appeared appropriate.
HESS: When one happened to be on hand or something like that.
BRAY: Very seldom; but he stuck to the national issues, because there had been enough said about his administration, and there was enough being said about Kennedy, and where he stood. The President thought that he would just stick to the point of taking on particular issues, to the best of his ability, giving answers to those questions he thought were ones that the people wanted to hear.
STOWE: I think again you may have some date problems in here, because that would have been an awfully busy day to have gone to Nashville and to Wilson, and then get
into Abingdon. That would be a day and a half to get to Abingdon, because as I remember we rode back to Raleigh and we got on our plane there and flew on into Abingdon...
BRAY: We got into Abingdon in the evening; it was dark when we landed.
STOWE: I remember specifically two things. I remember that Governor [Luther] Hodges was so tired when he got through those two days of the Eastern tour down there that he just virtually collapsed into his automobile as we got on the airplane. The President was still going strong, but it seems there was a little date problem in there.
HESS: There probably is. Do you remember Graham Morison being along?
BRAY: Yes, Graham Morison was along.
STOWE: I've forgotten whether he came down to Raleigh and flew back up with us or whether we met him up there, but we landed in the Tri-City Airport.
BRAY: Yes, he went with us to Abingdon.
STOWE: That's right. We flew into Bristol, and do you
remember, Bill, having seen the Governor virtually collapse? We knew the President was pretty tired; and we had suggested to the President, when we got into Bristol, that we would have to drive 25 miles by car, I think it was, over to Abingdon. You know, "forget making any speeches at the airport." But the next thing you and I knew, by the time we got off the airplane somebody had him over there on one of those baggage stands. They just happened to have microphones all set up, and they just happened to have about two or three thousand people there.
BRAY: That is right.
STOWE: And that's where he got talking about the Taylor brothers that ran for various offices. One was a Republican and the other was a Democrat. They campaigned by buggy all over through there, and one of them eventually became Governor. I think the other eventually became a Senator of the United States.
BRAY: That's right.
STOWE: I guess they call it sort of like the local "war of the roses" down there. He was telling these people all about it just like it occurred yesterday, and you remember you and I were saying we hope he knows his history.
Well, of course, we shouldn't have doubted because he always did know it. He talked for, oh, 15 minutes, as tired as he was, using this story and giving a little political speech. Then we drove on over to Abingdon.
BRAY: Of course, if you will remember--and this wasn't in the schedule--we'd thought then we had to drive through this town. After he had made the speech, they had to put him in an open car, and they had torch lights all along the route. The President was tired, but here it was delaying us, and here we had to go through another parade, and they had the band and everything else.
STOWE: That's right.
BRAY: After all, you just have to face up to facts--to realize there it is--and to make the best of it.
STOWE: And then he had a meeting with some of the people at the dinner meeting, I remember. But he just was so tired that we finally told him, "Look, you've got to leave." Bill and I took him back to his quarters in the hotel there, and got him to bed. He was so tired.
Then the next morning, Bill, do you remember, somebody came back and said there were two old ladies out there who wanted to see him. Well, of course, he always liked to see old ladies, but we didn't need
them. We were cramped for time and everything else, and we weren't too anxious about it until somebody mentioned that these two were the nieces of these two brothers that he'd talked about. Apparently they had gotten up about 5 o'clock in the morning, somewhere in Tennessee, to come over there to see the man who had remembered their kinfolk.
So, we had them back in there and the President chatted with them for 10 or 15 minutes about their uncles, and had a few pictures made with them. It was quite an interesting little thing with him and these two old ladies.
BRAY: They really enjoyed it, and they were very happy to have the opportunity.
STOWE: Then we flew back from Bristol, back again to Kansas City. You will notice by this itinerary that we tried always to have Mr. Truman home on Saturday and Sunday.
STOWE: There were two reasons; one was so he could be home with Mrs. Truman, and secondly, give him . . .
HESS: Give him a rest over the weekend.
STOWE: Well, in the next series I think there's a slight error in the way these are arranged because I recall
that we went to Sikeston, Missouri, first. We flew into there and that's down in the good old bootheel of Missouri, the country where he had many, many friends. The speech that evening was to be in a big high school auditorium, as I remember, and along with it was another one of these box dinner kind of affairs. The most dramatic thing I remember about that was that just as the chairman, the local chairman, was about to open the meeting, he apparently had a heart attack. Bill and I jumped up and got by Mr. Truman, who was sitting up on the dais. We were sitting down at a table in front of the dais, just to chat with him, until we found out what was happening. Joe Garagiola and Stan Musial were there on the platform, too. Somebody grabbed Joe Garagiola and he got up at the microphone and he started talking, all the time they were getting this man out and into an ambulance to go to the hospital. He was using Stan Musial as sort of a foil for all of his jokes, and the two of them together went on for nearly fifteen minutes and quieted the crowd right down. In fact, they were so packed in there that it could have been a panic sort of situation, something like that, but they quieted down. Then after everything was squared away, the President made his speech. It was a prepared speech, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what he said that night,
because we were all so concerned about what had happened.
STOWE: Later that evening, when we got back to the motel where they put us up, Bill, you remember that we found that Stan Musial and Joe Garagiola had a couple of rooms right near our suite. The President dropped over and chatted with them for a little while.
BRAY: Yes. Yes, he enjoyed that very much.
STOWE: Very much.
BRAY: He was very fond of Musial.
STOWE: Then we went into Trenton, Tennessee, and I suppose two things could be said at this point. I don't know anything about Trenton, Tennessee, but I do remember this very, very definitely. By this time President Truman had sort of developed very early in his speech a statement that he was a Mason, a 33rd Degree Mason, past Grand Master of the Missouri Lodge, and a Baptist. And then he would come out with the statement, "I say to you that religion has no part..."
BRAY: Very emphatic about it.
STOWE: Usually in every speech he would work this in in the
early part of his speech. It was very much the Bible belt area that we were traveling in up to this point, and we were going into it again later on. This was the first place that we found, at least I sensed--I don't know about you, Bill--an adverse reaction on the part of the crowd, very strong.
BRAY: I think he felt it, too.
STOWE: It bothered him. I know he mentioned it later; there seemed to be an organized adverse reaction of an anti-Catholic nature in this particular place. This was really about the only time, and one other place very late in the campaign, that I really sensed this at all. But this was one I remember quite well.
Then we flew the next day on down to Decatur, and I remember we took quite a little tour. Bill, what's that dam down there?
BRAY: Muscle Shoals?
STOWE: Muscle Shoals. Remember we had time to kill, so the pilot took us for a flight and we flew all around out there, and when we got in we had an afternoon appearance, as I recall it, in Decatur.
STOWE: I don't remember what the audience was or where we
were, do you?
BRAY: Well, I think it wasn't Hill [Senator Lister]; it was [Senator John] Sparkman, I think, that was there.
STOWE: And the Governor.
BRAY: And the Governor, of course, was there, but Sparkman was in charge of the thing. Of course, he talked for quite a little while, and it seemed that everybody in the State of Alabama must have been running for office, because the time he took introducing them and all, why it must have consumed about an hour and a half, I think.
HESS: Just to make introductions?
BRAY: Yes. He just kept introducing one after another, and, of course, they were all waiting to hear President Truman. It was just another instance where you just sit there and take it. So, I guess that thing was started about 1 o'clock and I think we finally got off those grounds about 4 or 4:30, because I remember then we went and had dinner.
STOWE: The only two things I remember about this, Bill, was that he got talking about this Sergeant Jones or somebody, a story he had from another of his historical studies. I kept thinking to myself, "I hope he's got
Sergeant Jones in the right place." It was a Civil War story and the other thing was he said, "I don't know why you invited me down here to talk to you this time; when I ran in 1948 you wouldn't even let me on the ballot down here."
BRAY: Yes, that's right.
STOWE: He used that again in a couple more states, but he opened up with this story.
BRAY: Well, of course, he never pulled any punches anyplace he was at, regardless of the situation. That was the night, Dave, if you remember--I guess it was the last Kennedy-Nixon debate--and it was about international issues. Kennedy in his talk went on to praise, oh, about three of four of what he considered the great Presidents. Of course, you remember that you and I were sitting on a chair waiting for him to comment, tell something about the great President that was speaking out for him and getting votes for him, and never once was he mentioned.
STOWE: Kennedy could have mentioned such things as aid to Greece and Turkey or the Marshall plan in the international area, which will probably be noted among Truman's greatest achievements; but he didn't.
BRAY: Well, sure, and never once was President Truman
mentioned. And we were both there and we started looking at each other, if you will recall, and wondering when he was going to mention President Truman. Never once in that whole talk did he mention him; and of course, while the President sat there watching, we both agreed it must be passing through his mind. Then, after the debate was over he got up and just said "goodnight." With that, you and myself felt that, "Look out, something is happening here."
Yes, never did he say one word about it at all.
STOWE: Never did.
BRAY: Nevertheless, you recall that that night we stayed up and we finally got hold of "Matt" [Matthew H.] McCloskey, because we decided that if there was any possible way of getting to Mr. Kennedy that it had to be with somebody who could get to him. We knew that if we had tried to get in touch, to give the message to the people that Kennedy had around him, why, we wouldn't get to first base. It would be like throwing a ball against the wall; it would bounce back at you. But we finally got old Matt about 2:30 or 3 o'clock in the morning, and he had told us that he had watched it and something was lacking in that talk. He said now that we'd mentioned it, he understood, and he said, "Well, you're so right."
We told him how we thought it was important because President Truman the next night would be flying into Kansas City, and Kennedy was going to be there. It would be a good idea if Kennedy was to understand that while the President has said nothing, nevertheless people who were closely associated with him thought, in view of the fact that he [Kennedy] missed in his speech saying anything about him, that he better try to make it up when they met each other. Of course, Matt said that he would go ahead and get through; he promised us that he would do it.
Do you want to add anything further to that?
STOWE: Well, I think we both realized that after it was over, he said goodnight and went to bed and we saw a man who I think was hurt. As Bill said, he never once said anything to us nor did he ever say anything afterwards that I know of.
BRAY: Not about the incident, no.
STOWE: Maybe we guessed wrong, but I think we were right. You will see that there was a real rapprochement shortly thereafter, and it worked out all right, but it was a pretty trying point.
HESS: All right, did we want to say any more about the TV debate in here, right now, or later?
STOWE: No, we covered these TV debates.
The next part is a little mixed up here. I'm sure if we went to Tupelo, we flew out of Decatur in the morning, I know. We must have gone in there sometime in the morning, because we got down to Baton Rouge and you don't even have Baton Rouge on here.
BRAY: Yes, we went to Baton Rouge.
STOWE: At lunch time.
BRAY: We had lunch with the Governor at the mansion, and then the Governor had arranged, if you remember, Dave, for him [Truman] to speak down in front of the courthouse, right downtown.
BRAY: He was right on the platform with President Truman, and he had already said that he didn't care for the Democratic candidate and wasn't going to vote for him, I believe. But he said, after all, when President Truman was in town that was a different matter; he was all for him.
I notice we're in there at Tupelo, and we can get the date, because I think it was around noon. We were met at this small airport, as it said, and if memory serves me correctly, by Senator [John C.] Stennis, and his administrative assistant and another person from
his office. I remember talking to them, getting their names, and there was just two cars; where we went I would have to look a little bit more. There's another place, too, I don't see mentioned on this, down South. If I could recall the city. The city splits, I think, Arkansas or whether it's Mississippi next to it, or someplace there. One of the parties was telling us how the three or four days before, Robert Kennedy was down there, and it was Senator [John L.] McClellan who had taken him all over this place, in a big red firemen's looking automobile.
STOWE: I don't recall Tupelo at all, Bill, but I do remember Abbeville.
BRAY: You never forget Abbeville.
STOWE: We had a few problems in Abbeville. There wasn't an airport anywhere near that we could get our plane into, at least where the pilot could feel safe. This was down in bayou country, and we had been told that there was going to be a hundred and twenty five thousand people there.
Well, I don't know if Bill ever knew anything about that area; I didn't. I didn't even think they had a hundred and twenty-five thousand people that lived there in the whole bayou area, so I just thought that was an exaggeration.
Well, we flew down to an airport, which I guess was twenty or thirty miles north of there.
BRAY: It wasn't an airport; it was just a field that had a runway.
STOWE: We had to get in cars, and we went on down someplace and when we got into Abbeville, I'll tell you, they had a hundred and twenty-five thousand people there.
STOWE: The President talked from a platform on the county courthouse steps, all built up there, and they apparently had loudspeakers strung to all corners within. I don't know how many blocks; but the first area in front of the President, in front of the courthouse, was just solid with humanity and down these side streets. Then, as you went further out away from the courthouse it thinned out a little bit until you'd get to a street corner. Then there would be five, six, seven hundred people at each street corner where they had these loudspeakers strung way out for blocks in every direction. People were standing there listening and they couldn't even see the President up at the courthouse.
BRAY: That's right.
STOWE: I never saw so many people in my life, you know, from a town that size; I don't know where they came from. Apparently they came from all out of the bayou country. Well, they wanted to see and hear the President.
BRAY: They told us that they had the whole Louisiana delegation. They had both the two Senators and the other Congressmen, I believe; everyone was there, because as they said, "That's the most important event that was held in the state of Louisiana." Every year, or particularly in the election year, everybody who was anybody, who wanted to be somebody, was going to be sure and be there. He enjoyed it very, very much and they had all the different kinds of creole food around to eat. It was some affair!
HESS: At any of these stops did you go out and circulate in the crowd to find out what they were saying, how they thought that the President's speech was going over?
BRAY: We had to stay close.
STOWE: We had to stay close. Bill, for example, took over all of the press people--and that was a job in itself--giving out copies of the speeches, and answering questions. I stayed fairly close to the President to
make sure about the security, which we really had to have set up the night before. I would point out here one of the things that we ran into very early on the trip, and that was the fact that local police were not very much help, because some local politician could just sort of shove them aside and come in where we didn't want them.
In all due respect, the President was an elderly man then, out working in a campaign; he wasn't running for any office and we tried to protect him. Usually what we would do was to get the Governor to assign a couple or three state patrolmen, as long as we were in the state, and that worked out pretty well.
So, I tended to stay fairly close to the President, as Bill did, until he had to handle reporters. Then, of course, once you start moving, you don't have time. Actually, no, we did not get out and get reactions of the crowd.
BRAY: We could tell, having been around crowds in previous campaigns, that it wasn't necessary. We could look out; we could observe the enthusiasm, and we could see from the look on their faces that they were just pleased. So if you were the type that the both of us I think were, with our background and all, you could observe people and in that way be able to obtain, at least to our own self-satisfaction anyhow, the
STOWE: You could usually tell whether the state representatives or senators or candidates for various offices felt they were being helped. I think in most instances they thought they were being helped.
HESS: What was the nature of your liaison with the main Kennedy campaign?
STOWE: Well, occasionally it would be direct. You'd get calls particularly from Bob Kennedy, direct, because you know, Bobby Kennedy was running the Kennedy campaign. But calls came mostly from the Democratic National Committee staff, and oftentimes from Charlie [Charles S.] Murphy who was traveling with Johnson's campaign staff. On two occasions, in Kansas City after a Kennedy speech, and again, in New York City, at the Carlyle Hotel, we met with Kennedy's staff. Usually what it amounted to was adding things, not to the trip we were on, because we had to be pretty well fixed before we left, but adding new things to the trips that were still upcoming. And of course, those had to be checked out with the President, and he, I don't think, ever said no. He said, "Yes," everytime, and these things just kept snowballing, trip after trip. You notice the first one or two were one-shot, then two or three, and then five or six and now we're getting into
even longer trips.
The other interesting thing, I think, was that when we finished in Louisiana, we were flying back into Kansas City. I believe it was a Friday night and we were trying to get back for the weekend again. Senator Kennedy was coming in there; the candidate was coming in there, to speak at Kansas City and some of the environs around there. When we left, with the plane we had and everything else, it didn't appear that we were going to be able to be there in time to meet the candidate. But as it turned out he was quite delayed and they had the Auditorium filled with people and it became very, very clear that the people there in Kansas City wanted the President to come up there and to be there. Bill, you remember it?
BRAY: Well, Dave, you'll remember, of course, it was just the day before we had the problem, or at least we thought it was a problem to us, about the way President Truman was ignored by the candidate in his speech outlining some of the great people. So, it was under that impression that we were flying back into Kansas City. As we got to the airport, the President, if you will recall, said, "Well, we haven't had anything to eat," which was true. I would imagine that we left down there in Louisiana at 4 o'clock, and, of course, it was dark when we got to Kansas City.
STOWE: It was 8 o'clock.
BRAY: And so he said let's go into the restaurant here in the airport and get a little bite; maybe then we can get on up to the arena were all the festivities were for that night.
So, if you'll recall, and I'm sure you do, while we were sitting there eating, Mr. Kennedy was motoring in from Independence to Kansas City. All of his pilots, his pilots and the crew of his airplane, came into the airport and they spotted President Truman. Every one of them immediately came over and shook hands with him. They told him they'd been hearing what wonderful speeches he was making for President Kennedy, and they wanted his autograph. Of course, if you'll recall, you and I both looked at each other with a smile; in other words, maybe Matt McCloskey had gotten his call through to President Kennedy, reminding somebody that they had failed to mention the great President's name in the debate.
Well, anyhow, if you remember, we then went on up to the Auditorium, and no sooner did we get to the Auditorium than the chairman of the committee asked the President if he would go on over and use this private room that they had reserved and wait there. They had gotten a message that President Kennedy would be here very soon and that he wanted to talk to him alone
before he went in to the convention.
He went over there as you recall, and sat there for a while, and it just so happened that word had gotten around the Auditorium that President Truman was in the vicinity of the Auditorium. The people started hollering. I believe Senator [Stuart] Symington was speaking at that time...
STOWE: That's right.
BRAY: ...and they kept interrupting his speech, hollering, "We want Truman." So they came on out and asked the President if he would go on in. He said he didn't want to, but he would. He said, "I'll go in there, but one thing is certain; I will not speak, I will not say any words. I'll wave to the crowd and all, but it's Senator Kennedy's night here and I do not wish in any way to take away from him." That, of course, is just like him, and always has been just like President Truman.
So he went in there and did just that; he bowed, and they hollered, "Speech, speech." But he just shook his head and said, "No," and just waved and sat down in the chair to wait with all the rest of them until Senator Kennedy and his group finally got there.
Of course, it was funny, as I keep saying, because I guess it's for the lack of another word to use, but
when Kennedy and his delegation came in, Kennedy was looking all over the Auditorium. He was just trying to find one person, and when he spotted him sitting in the big chair--of course, he had gotten up to applaud with the rest of them when he got in there--he made a beeline right over to him and then put his arm around him and started talking in his ear. The crowd was going crazy at seeing this, what you might call an embrace of goodwill. They talked, I would say for at least a minute, or three-quarters of a minute, but it was hush, hush. So the President laughed and, I guess, understood. What they said, I don't know; the President never said anything to me. I don't know whether he ever said anything to you.
BRAY: In this connection, you will recall, we then went out with him to his home in Independence, and we picked up a few trophies, a hat, and a cane, and a basket of dates or something, or pecans from down in Louisiana. It was just us, and [Mike] Westwood there, and we got out to help him and he took the key out and opened up the gate, because Mrs. Truman apparently had gone to New York to be with Margaret. Then he went on in. We wanted to help him in with the stuff and he said, "No, I'll take it." And my God, it was something to see the
ex-President there, how he could take care of things. Do you recall it?
STOWE: I recall going out to the house there, the first part, very well, because, as you recall, Kennedy was, oh, 45 minutes to an hour late. I remember all of these people; I don't know how many thousands here, this Auditorium packed, and they were getting restless. That's why Symington was trying to sort of hold the fort, and then when they found out the Boss was in the house somewhere, they started hollering for him, and that's why he finally went out there, because they were getting quite restless you know. They were coming in by motor cavalcade, and had gotten delayed somewhere coming in, and he [Kennedy] was quite late. Yeah, I remember that now.
Then, of course, we were home, back in Independence. I think that probably was about the only time that you and I got back to Washington. There was a break of about a week in there, five days. I think we flew back in and had a chance to see our families and then flew back out again.
But then we were flying out to Seattle and I recall on that trip that this was a trip in which we were flying commercial this time. We flew commercial all the way out, and the pilots were always very, very nice, always inviting Mr. Truman to come up, you know,
to where they run the airplane.
BRAY: Well, no, not in the cockpit, but just a little compartment back of where they were flying the plane.
STOWE: They had it roped off for us I know. And then they asked us to put a deadhead crew in there.
BRAY: That's right. That's right. To Seattle.
STOWE: There was lightning all around us, and so I asked one of them if lightning could hit a plane, and they explained it to us in very technical language, like it didn't amount to very much. I don't know; maybe it was 15 minutes later when I thought the whole left wing of the airplane was blown off, and we had an explosion. It turned out that we had been hit by lightning. So, when we finally got to Seattle, we were concerned that Mrs. Truman would hear about it. I guess it was known that the pilots had radioed in that we had been hit by lightning. There was no damage, but it scared the fire out of all of us, except the President. He didn't bat an eye.
BRAY: He didn't bat an eye.
STOWE: Scared the hell out of all of us.
So, we got in there. The President said, "You better go and get Mrs. Truman on the telephone and tell
her about this, that we're down on the ground. She may be hearing about it." Bill and I had to go through that entire crush of reporters and people meeting us, all of them wanting to talk about lightning hitting the airplane. We said, "What lightning? We didn't see any lightning." It was more frightening to us, I guess, than detrimental to the airplane. I finally reached Mrs. Truman at home and told her what had happened.
BRAY: After Seattle we went on over to Tacoma.
STOWE: Yes. I think it was at Tacoma that we gave the second run of that speech that was originally prepared for Waco, Texas. I think it was Tacoma where he gave that, and we got fair coverage out of it.
HESS: On his views on religion?
STOWE: Yes, and I think it was Tacoma. I know it was up on this part of the trip. He did that, I think, twice after Waco, and it was out there somewhere.
BRAY: Yes, it has got to be in Tacoma.
STOWE: In Tacoma he was at the Opera House. I know we did in 1948, too.
BRAY: Yes, because it was at the Seattle-Tacoma airport
that we landed, but he didn't go into Seattle to speak. We went to Tacoma.
STOWE: Well, we're in Seattle...
HESS: It was the University of Seattle, Seattle, Washington.
STOWE: Yes, we went out to the University, but I've forgotten if he did that speech there or whether he did it out at Tacoma. Again, I say, it seems to me that there were both; it just seems a little difficult for me to realize that we did both of those speeches on the same day, because I think both of them were major speeches. But it could have been.
BRAY: Well, one was at night, Dave, because we got in there at night, and then Senator "Maggie" [Warren] Magnuson was with us...
STOWE: That's right.
BRAY: Then we apparently waited until the next day, when we went and did Tacoma, I guess, because the next day we flew down to California.
STOWE: That's right. But both dates show the same and I don't know. Anyway, we got out to Tacoma, flew commercial, flew down on a jet to San Francisco, and that's where we then took Ed [Edwin W.] Pauley's plane
and flew out to Reno, Nevada. That was set up in the football stadium at the University of Nevada, and that speech didn't work so well, because somebody cut some of the loudspeaker cable and a lot of the audience couldn't hear what he was saying.
HESS: Was that intentional or what?
STOWE: I don't know whether it was intentional or accidental.
BRAY: I think it was intentional. I think at that time there was a feeling--if not a feud--a feeling out there between some different groups. I don't know whether it was the pro-Kennedys versus the anti-Kennedys or what.
HESS: It wasn't necessarily a feeling against President Truman, is that right?
BRAY: No, I don't recall that.
STOWE: It still could have been one of those things where you get crowds and somebody kicks a wire and pulls it out, but anyway, a good share of them couldn't see or couldn't hear anything.
BRAY: I think it happened twice, because that's where we got the idea that maybe it was obvious that somebody was doing it, though.
STOWE: That was a morning or a noontime speech, and then we flew back for the big labor meeting in Oakland, California, that night.
BRAY: Yes, and then stayed there overnight.
STOWE: Remember, Bill, it was sometime, a few speeches earlier, that the President started reading the speeches over at the last minute, and if he'd see some little thing that he liked real well, then he'd remember it as he was ad libbing, and then he would use it out of context. Then, when he came to it in context, it wasn't working so well. Maybe it's just as well in Reno that the loudspeakers didn't work, because I guess he sort of reached the epitome of doing this at Reno.
So, on the way back on the airplane, we got with him and fussed at him a little bit, because you remember he'd always ask us how he did. On this one he said, "How did we do?"
And you said, "Tell him he didn't do so well," that he was doing so much of this. Then we pointed out to him that the speech he was going to give that night [in Oakland, California] was a very carefully written satire and it wasn't the kind of thing that he could pull out. We took a red pencil, I remember, and we marked it about page 3 or 4 and said, "Look, before
this red line you can ad lib all you want, but when you hit this red line, just stay to the script to the very end."
BRAY: As you are saying, this was a satire; he could pull it off, and he pulled it.
HESS: Who wrote it?
STOWE: I think that was Dave Lloyd; this was what I understood from Charlie Murphy at a later date, but I don't know.
HESS: I understand Mr. Lloyd was quite a good writer, is that right?
STOWE: Yes, he was very good.
So, we got into this place in an Oakland hotel and they had big meetings going on there, labor-sponsored. I don't know how many thousands they had in the dining room, and all of these areas around. The other thing we found out was that they had all kinds of closed circuit television up in the rooms. So, they had not only the people we could see, but they had literally hundreds or a thousand more people around the hotel on a closed circuit television.
And again, it was the kind of a thing like we ran into in San Antonio; it was a "whoop and holler" crowd, the kind where he would normally tend to throw his
scripts away and take off and sail. Bill and I were sitting back there, holding our heads, when he got to that red line. We weren't sure where he was going to go. But at that point he threw his head down and he started reading the lines and after about the first two, he got so many laughs, and as they were beginning to warm up, be began to warm up. You remember, Bill, he was beginning to act.
BRAY: That's right.
STOWE: He was using his arms and he was doing everything else, but he stayed right to that script.
HESS: He followed instructions, huh?
STOWE: Absolutely, fantastic!
BRAY: And it was terrific that night. I mean, my God, it's hard to compare the crowd in San Antonio with that crowd there. You see, they were both indoor speeches and always you can make a better speech indoors than you can outdoors. But, God, they just tore the place to pieces.
STOWE: And then after that, we flew back into Kansas City. That was a typical example of a trip where we had no central help like we had in North Carolina with Governor Hodges, or like we had in Texas, with
Congressman Thornberry. On this one we were really on our own; we were having to play almost every bit of it, you know, by our own arrangements, and whatever Bill and I could "con" people into doing. That was the thing; that one speech in Oakland was worth the trip.
BRAY: It really was.
STOWE: Now then, we started on what was the last real big swing. You notice, from there on they go right through. I don't remember the Hunter College speech at all, do you Bill? I don't even remember being there.
BRAY: No. That must have been one of those things that Bill--what's his name?
STOWE: You mean the former state committeeman?
BRAY: No. Oh, the newspaper guy, the guy that had the house, remember we went down to his house; in New York there.
STOWE: Bill [William] Hillman.
BRAY: Bill Hillman.
Well, there is another spot that they haven't got listed; he went to a meeting down in Greenwich Village that was sponsored by [Carmine] De Sapio when he was chairman of the Civic Committee and he spoke to this big delegation, or group, down there. Then, of course,
we went on over to Hillman's home, which was just a short distance away. Hillman wanted to show President Truman his new home that he had just bought in New York City. Do you remember that?
STOWE: Yes. We stayed that night in the Carlyle in the penthouse A; that was the hotel where Margaret had lived and I think she is still living there. The Trumans had stayed there and they liked it. I don't know whether it was that night or again when we came back on the 5th, or both times--I'm under the impression it was both times--but I think it was on this particular evening, because we didn't have anything else really after the Hunter College thing, and the Hillman visit, until the next day. I think John Kennedy and his group were in there in penthouse B.
BRAY: Yes. He got in late that night.
STOWE: That's right. And Kennedy came over...
BRAY: The next morning.
STOWE: Was it the next morning?
STOWE: He came over the next morning, and I remember the thing that I overheard was that he was telling the
President that his speech out at Oakland, California was the best speech that had been given in the whole campaign.
BRAY: That's right. They were still talking about it in the East.
STOWE: I recall that, particularly, and I'm pretty sure it was that morning. Then we went out to Fishkill and that was a noontime sort of thing.
BRAY: Yes, up there in Dutchess County.
STOWE: And that's about all I remember.
BRAY: [James] Farley was just . . .
STOWE: Farley made that whole trip with us, didn't he?
BRAY: Yes. Then we wound up that evening with a torchlight parade in Haverstraw, which was honoring Farley. That was Farley's home town, and then Farley introduced him and he got a terrific bang out of the people there. They really tore it up for him, and then we just came on back into New York City that night.
Now, as to the Brooklyn speech, do you want to talk about that?
STOWE: Well, again, Bill, these were fast quickies. I think you know the New York police did such a
tremendous job of security. They were so used to it themselves, that this was one place where we had no security problems. The New York City police took it over and they did a bang-up job. We had a lot of assistance between Carmine De Sapio and Bill Hillman and a couple of others.
STOWE: I'm not sure I remember all of those speeches; except I remember one. That was the one in Brooklyn at that street corner rally. You know, they had a wooden stand, and the President made a speech there and the crowd was crushing in on the stand. I thought that the stand was going to collapse before we could get the President off.
BRAY: We got him down just in time. Just got a hold of him and pulled him on down. The police were pushing them back, but that didn't do any good at all. He had just got off for five minutes before...
HESS: Before it collapsed?
BRAY: Before it collapsed, and God, if you don't think we were worried.
I don't remember about these four appearances in various parts of New York.
STOWE: I remember one of them, whichever one would have been in the Harlem area, Bill. It had been raining, and as he went up on the podium the sun broke through and everybody just sort of said, "Well, there it is. It's his weather, and he's there." But I can't remember which one of these it was.
BRAY: Well, of course, we had several others who wanted to be in on the act, and we were trying to please them at the same time.
STOWE: Then the next day we went down to Philadelphia, and we were supposed to have a parade through the city, which we did have. We were supposed to have a major speech delivered from the City Hall, and when we got there, as I recall, Bill--you can check me on this--Congressman [William J., Jr.] Green had them turned out. Boy, they were all over; absolutely the streets were packed. But when we got to the City Hall, nobody had made any arrangements, and they wanted to have him take a hand mike and stand up in the back end of the open car and make a speech from there. He had a prepared text and there was no way that he could do that, you know, to hold the book and hold the hand mike.
So, we had a second stop scheduled at the union hall of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding
Workers of America. It was supposed to be a stop, just to drop in their union hall on the way after the parade was over. He gave an extemporaneous speech at the City Hall steps, and then made a real speech out at the union hall.
BRAY: We were worried about where he would get the speech in because...
STOWE: We had released it. We got it in, and then we went later that day out to Pittsburgh, and went into some auditorium out there and that was one where literally people were sitting in the rafters. I can remember I saw a friend of mine...
BRAY: But prior to that, you know, we had the usual parade. We went up the street and then we came on back and then we had a small dinner.
STOWE: We had this meeting, with just a fantastic crowd. The Mayor, [Joseph M.] Barr, Joe Barr, put it all on and they had people just literally packed in there like sardines. It was another one of these rip-roaring political speeches.
We were going back into New York that night, and were going by train. We got on down to the station and they had some kind of a tour, about five or six cars of people. I don't know where they were from or what
organization they were with, but this was the second time we ran into really anti-Catholic, anti-Truman, flak at the station. We ran into it again the next morning as we were getting off the train. Remember, you were with the President on one of those freight elevators, when some of these people got on and one of them even spit in his direction? Remember that?
BRAY: Well, I know it was troublesome there; I'll go along with what you say.
STOWE: I don't know what group it was, or where they came from. They were on Cars numbers 2, 3, 4, and they may have been Pittsburgh people; or they may have been people who came in on a train from somewhere else, and were going on to New York. I don't know.
BRAY: Well, of course, Dave, you remember the job that we had--because at that time, that same night, Nixon was speaking in Pittsburgh. He was in Pittsburgh that same day that we were going to be there, and of course our problem was that we didn't want the President around, or close to Nixon, or give the newspapers anything. So we had to keep postponing. We changed our reservations at least three or four times on the plane going out of Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, because of that.
STOWE: Well, that about covers it, because at that point, a
couple of days later, Bill and I took the President back on the train. Mrs. Truman was in New York, and they went back to Independence by train, and I'm sure they were back in time to vote.
STOWE: And then we came back to Washington. I'm sure when we get all through and get home tonight, Bill, you and I will think of a hundred and one things we didn't think of now.
BRAY: I'm sure they'll come up. I mean after all, when you are trying to reconstruct that which was thirteen years earlier.
HESS: Did the President enjoy campaigning?
STOWE: He loved it.
BRAY: Oh, he ate it up; he ate it up! He enjoyed the times even when the boys would come up in the morning, like some newspapermen or some of the Democrats or someone, when he would take his walk. They just loved to walk along with him, and he'd be kind of visiting with them all the time. As Dave said earlier, one of us had to be there in case somebody would misquote him later on and saying, "Did he say this?" We could say, "No, he didn't say it," because we were there and knew. So
that's the reason why we had to be sure that one of us was around all the time, so they couldn't misquote him.
STOWE: Well, I can tell you one time there was a brief period when we came in here to Washington, as a matter of fact. I think we came into Washington and went from Washington to Raleigh, and my wife came down to see us. Bill and I looked like we had been dragged through a key hole, and the President looked fine. She took me aside, and she said she couldn't understand why in the world the President could look so fine and healthy and rested, and I looked like I had been out on a binge, you know.
BRAY: Well, the binge we were always on was to make sure that as far as possible, that if we could keep it on track, that that was the thing to do.
HESS: In private did you ever hear President Truman express his opinion of Senator Kennedy? I know what he said during his speeches, but in private what did he say?
STOWE: Oh, yes. It wasn't during his campaign; it was before the convention. I think he was a great admirer of Kennedy. I think his basic problem was that he thought that Kennedy really was a little immature in age, you know, and he had plenty of time to run for the presidency.
BRAY: Well, and also, I don't think the President had too much use for President Kennedy's father, Joe Kennedy. He knew him during the Roosevelt era.
STOWE: My impression was that he was a great admirer of Senator Kennedy; there wasn't much question in his mind that he was a future President of the United States. I think the only qualms he had was whether or not at that particular stage in his political development he wasn't premature [in the timing of his bid for the Presidency]. As it turned out he won the election, and that was it.
And then I think he had generally a very high regard for Bobby Kennedy, which was developed I would think a little later. He did not have it originally but subsequently developed a extremely high regard for Bobby Kennedy.
HESS: Enough for one day?
HESS: All right, thank you gentlemen.
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