Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Truman, Martha Ellen, 1852-1947; Pendergast, Michael J., 1867-1929; Truman, Bess Wallace, 1885-1982; Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924
Sunday schools; World War, 1914-1918; County government

Longhand Note of Judge Harry S. Truman, ca. May 1931. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

May 1931

The Ideals I've tried to make work and perhaps haven't.

When I was twelve we moved into another school district. I'd been going to the Presbyterian Sunday School since I was six. My mother had been raise a Baptist so had my father but neither of them were active in the church. My mother had taken her membership out of the Blue Ridge Church because she felt that there were too many liars and hypocrites in it. So when we moved to Independence in 1890 she took us to the nearest Sunday School which happened to be the Presbyterian. I saw a beautiful curly haired girl there. I thought (and still think) she was the most beautiful girl I ever saw. She had tanned skin, blond hair, golden as sunshine, and the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen, or ever will see. When we moved as before stated I started into the fifth grade to this beautiful young lady's aunt (great aunt). She sat behind me. I could not keep my mind on lessons or anything else. I read sweet stories. Always she was the heroine and I the hero. She never noticed me. I went all the way to graduation in high school with her and still she never paid me any attention except on occasion to let me carry her books home sometimes. I am still as crazy as ever at forty seven and she is the mother of my daughter. I wish I had the power of Tolstoy or Pac or some other genius to tell it.

I studied the careers of great men hoping to be worthy of her. I found that most of them came from the farm. At twenty two I went to the farm and stayed until I was thirty four. I went to war as all great men had. Succeeded in commanding a Battery of F.A. Came home with all the men under me but one crazy about me, and married my girl sweetheart. She still loves me after twelve years.

I was stirred in heart and soul by the war messages of Woodrow Wilson and since I'd joined the National Guard at 21 I thought I ought to go. I believe that the great majority of the country were stirred by the same flame that stirred me in those great days. I felt that I was a Galahad after the Grail and I'll never forget how my love cried on my shoulder when I told her I was going. That was worth a life time on this earth. We trained. I did my duty as a battery officer and ran a canteen for the regiment. It was good luck that I got an honest man to do the real work under me. We paid $15,000.00 in dividends in six months on a $2200.00 investment and paid the investment back besides. I got sent overseas in advance and a promotion on the strength of that canteen. Commanded a battery on the front and came home to my sweetheart sober and reasonably pure.

Went into business, all enthusiastic. Lost all I had and all I could borrow. Mike Pendergast picked me up and put me into politics and I've been lucky. I'm still an idealist and I still believe that Jehovah will reward the righteous and punish the wrong doer. Bill Rose is an example of the punishment. Have tried to make Jackson County's government ideal as far as the practical operation [sic] will allow. Have built 231 miles of roads and a 500,000.00 hospital and the tax payers have had an advocate at court all the time.

Oh! If I were only John D. or Mellon or Waif Phillips. I'd make this section (six counties) the world's real paradise. What is the use wishing. I'm still going to do it.


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