Truman Followed by Eisenhower

Trip Start Apr 05, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Missouri
Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I slept a little later than usual.  Up at 8:30, gone by 9:00.  I checked out and made the four mile trek to Harry Truman's Home, Museum, Library and Gravesite.  I actually found out that his grave is located in an outdoor courtyard within the Museum and Library.  I think this is the first one I've seen like that.  Many are close to the museums and libraries, but none within them that can recall.  Admission was $8 for old people and I got there just as a 45 minute film on Truman was starting.  Very lucky.  The film was narrated by John Chancellor (you remember, the news guy).  Very well done!  

Harry Solomon Truman was the 33rd President of the US and final running mate of four-term President, Franklin D. Roosevelt.  When FDR died on April 12, 1945, Truman became President.  He was raised on a family farm and served in WWI before briefly owned a haberdashery (men's clothier) before entering politics.  He served as US Senator from Missouri starting in 1934.  

Truman marshaled the US through several tense times, including the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan, the founding of the United Nations, the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, the start of the Cold War including the Berlin Airlift, the creation of NATO and the Korean Conflict.  He campaigned from the back of a train on a whistle-stop tour of the US....he even stopped by my old hometown (Tolono, IL)....even though I wasn't around to see it.  He won the election of 1948 on his own in what turned out to be one of the biggest journalistic blunders in history, when the Chicago Tribune printed a headline that stated "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN." Oops!  I'll bet somebody lost their magic decoder ring for that one!  He kept a sign on his desk at the White House proclaiming, "The Buck Stops Here."   People yelled at him, "Give 'em Hell Harry."  However, Truman said, "I never did give anyone Hell.  I just told the truth and they thought it was Hell."  Gotta love a guy like that.     

This was one of the best museums I have seen.  Very well done.  Very down to earth.  It showed his warts as well as his finest hour.  He later became the elder-statesman who every President since has quoted.  He seemed to be a common man who just happened (by accident) to become President.    

Truman died in 1972 at the age of 88.  I remember it well.          

Then I was off to Abilene, Kansas for the President who succeeded Truman, Dwight David Eisenhower.  Well, at least I thought I was.  I seriously considered stopping by some BBQ joint in Kansas City...I think it's the law in some states...If you are going through Kansas City, you have to stop and have BBQ.  I decided not to....but as I entered the freeway (I-70), I happened to see the road sign that said, "Arthur Bryant's BBQ next exit."  I think it was fate!  Five minutes later I was ordering a sliced pork sandwich, beans and cole slaw.  There were about 5 people in front of me.  By the time I left, the line was 50-60 deep and all the way out the door.  Timing is everything.  Some of the best BBQ you will ever taste!   

 Then I was on my way to Abilene.  It was going to be a few hours.  I'd make it by 2:30 or so.  On the way I saw the sign for the "Brown vs. Board of Education" Historical museum.  You remember that?  School desegregation.  I also saw a sign that touted the first miles of the "The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways."  Our Interstate System which was as the name suggests, championed by Eisenhower originally to move troops from sea to sea for military purposes.  Seemed appropriate.  You know our Governor is touting the 70 mph speed limit in Illinois?  Well, it's 75 in Kansas.  I also passed a strange sign for a museum, the OZ Museum in Wamego, KS.  Makes sense, The Wizard of Oz was based on a girl from Kansas.  Actually people say Dorothy was based on a girl in Bloomington, IL who was the niece of L. Frank Baum.  I understand she's buried in Bloomington.  

When I think of Abilene, I think of the old TV show, Rawhide.  You remember, it's where Clint Eastwood got his start as drover, Rowdy Yates.  They were always driving their cattle to Abilene.  Abilene was a cow-town in the 1860's and 70's.  
 As I drove into Abilene I couldn't help but notice that none of the stoplights worked.  Thinking nothing of it, I headed to the Eisenhower Library and Museum.  The gift shop along with the whole town was dark.  They say it happens often...poor service.  Wow!  I took the opportunity to view the grounds, "the place of meditation" and statues.  Very nice.  Ten minutes later, the power came back on and I saw the 22 minute film on Ike.  Very well done.  Oh yea, entry fee was $9...I guess I'm not old until I turn 65!!!

Eisenhower was probably a better General than he was a President (my opinion only...beat me up for it, I don't care!).  He was born in Texas, but shortly moved to Abilene.  His parents were Pennsylvania Dutch and his mother was not pleased that he attended West Point.  Ike moved through the ranks in the military and eventually became a General.  During WWII, he became the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, balancing egos and needs to come up with Operation Overlord, the D-Day invasion of Europe.  It was his finest hour!

Like many Generals, he hated war.  My favorite quote of his:  "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  The world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."  Amen!  

Maybe I like Ike because he was a passionate golfer!  

He was President from 1953 to 1961, giving it up to JFK.  He defeated Bloomingtonian, Adlai Stevenson in both elections.  He halted the Korean conflict, but probably his greatest achievements included the Interstate system and the economic boom (baby boomers!) that followed WWII.  

Ike died in 1969 of congestive heart failure...same thing my dad died of in 1992.  I enjoyed my visit there today.

I headed back toward Bloomington, figuring I could make it to Columbia, MO by 8:00 pm and a hotel.  Holiday Inn... $77...upgrade to a King Suite, two free drinks at the bar and free breakfast.  Have I mentioned that I love IHG?  

Anyway, home tomorrow with three more Presidents off the list...and only three more to go.  Next month, LBJ in Texas, and Nixon and Reagan in California.  We'll fly!!!

Take care my friends!!!!



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John Huffman on

Dave, you could have helped the poor folks in Abilene had you connected the giant extension cord on your way into town! Ok, a little presidential trivia for you. Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in which town in Texas?....Anyone?....Anyone?... Denison, just north of Dallas next to the metropolitan town of Sherman.

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