Do you remember the birthday cards that were popular a few years back… ” If you were born in___( year) …and then they told you who was President at the time of your birth, the best movie, popular book, band that year, etc.?
Well… my ” birth President” was Harry S Truman… I couldn’t have picked a better one if I had a choice. Just recently I re-read excerpts of McCullough’s biography of him. ( I had sworn to myself…after finishing Hamilton a few years back… that I wasn’t going to read another book that weighed more than a newborn ( slight exaggeration) but I couldn’t resist. I have read five of McCullough’s books and stay amazed how each one has drawn me in.
I have always been an avid reader but lately books have become my escape from ” too much too much” world and it’s problems. I love to get lost in other worlds, cultures, and time periods. All books have their own ” time capsules” that can transport one back into the past and forward into the future.
But the best thing about going back into our own country’s history, along with the movers and shakers who lived it… is realizing ( in this particular story) that Truman faced some of the greatest challenges and decisions any US President ever faced without any formal education-a farmer from Missouri.
But like Lincoln… he brought something better to the White House- he loved to read! Real life challenges and hardships coupled with extensive readings on everything made him quick witted and foreign leaders of the day appreciated and admired his candor and universal knowledge. In his later years, after leaving the White House, his books became his life more and more. ( excerpt from Truman)
Cars passing the Truman house in Independence, Missouri, neighbors out for a walk in the evening, could see him in the window, sitting with a book under his reading lamp.
Margaret, Truman’s daughter, was asked one time what her father’s idea of Heaven would be. ” Oh, to have a good comfortable chair, a good reading lamp, and lots of books around that he wanted to read”
Once in New York… when a representative of Doubleday called on Truman at his hotel early one morning he found Truman sitting in a chair in the bedroom with several new books stacked on a table beside him. Did the President like to read himself to sleep at night, he asked? ” No young man,” said Truman, ” I l like to read myself awake.”
In Truman’s final years… he never lost his quick wit but even more importantly he became quite prophetic in his warnings about maintaining a democracy.
Traveling through England with his wife, Bess, he was invited to speak at the Pilgrims-the leading Anglo-American society dedicated to maintaining close ties between the two nations Post WWII.
Truman started out with a big grin announcing that he and Bess were getting along very well in England and so far, he had not needed an interpreter. 🤣 The crowd roared -they loved him.
He finished his talk with these prophetic thoughts.
” A good many of the difficulties between our two countries spring not from our differences but from the fact that we are so much alike. Another problem we have … is that in election years we behave somewhat as primitive peoples do at the time of the full moon. Remember… ” a great, serene and peaceful future can slip from us quite as irrevocably by neglect, division and inaction, as by spectacular disaster. Never become careless about our strength and our unity.”
So until tomorrow…
Today is my favorite day- Winnie the Pooh