Like most boys from Missouri, Harry Truman developed simple tastes in food as he was growing up—especially things like his mother’s fried chicken and that great American budget-friendly staple, meatloaf.
According to the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, the 33rd President also liked corn bread with Missouri sorghum, all kinds of fowl, and Ozark pudding, which included chopped apples and nuts. (The Boss, that’s Mrs. Truman, had a special recipe for this.) Truman preferred chocolate cake to white cake, but the exception was angel food cake (and why not!).
Several accounts from that period agree that Truman really hated onions and could not be fooled into eating them. He could detect the smallest amount of onions in a dish and would just push that dish aside.
Once in the White House, however, meals became a more formal and ritualized experience for Truman.
In November 1949, Mrs. Truman was back in Independence, leaving the President alone in the “Great White Jail,” as he called the White House. And alone for meals.
When mealtime came, a White House butler announced dinner, and Truman would head to the dining room and be helped into his chair by another butler. In his diary for November 1, Truman provides an account of how butlers waited on him hand and foot while he ate alone by candelight.
Early in the 1960s, with Mrs. Truman at his side laughing, the former President read the … [ Read all ]
Posted by Jim on June 15, 2011, under - Presidents, What's Cooking Wednesdays.
Tags: Bess Truman, bundt cake, diary, fried chicken, Great White Jail, Harry Truman, meatloaf, Missouri sorghum, Ozark pudding, Truman Lib
Harry S. Truman was never really fond of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, especially after their frosty 1950 Wake Island meeting in the Pacific while the Korean War raged.
Things had not gone particularly well since the North Koreans invaded South Korea in late June 1950. By October, South Korean troops had pushed across the 38th parallel, but there were warnings that the Chinese would enter the war. The general discounted the warnings and predicted he could send large numbers of troops home by Christmas. In late November, hundreds of thousands of Chinese roared into South Korea.
But in early 1951, MacArthur handed Truman a reason to get rid of him. Insubordination—publicly criticizing American policy in interviews and public statements.
MacArthur had even written a letter, in which he criticized Truman’s handling of the war, to Joseph Martin, the House Republican leader. Martin read it on the floor of the House. For Commander-in-Chief Truman, this was the final straw.
The President, suspecting MacArthur might see that his days were numbered and resign before he could act, moved quickly, announcing the dismissal at 1 a.m. on April 11, 1951:
“With deep regret, I have concluded that General of the Army Douglas MacArthur is unable to give his wholehearted support to the policies of the United States Government . . . military commanders must be governed by the policies … [ Read all ]
It had not yet been 24 hours since President Ronald Reagan was wounded in an assassination attempt—wounds far more serious than the public was told at the time.
But on the morning of March 31, 1981, the three men he relied on most in these early days of his administration came to see him in his room at George Washington University Hospital, about six blocks from the White House.
Chief of Staff James A. Baker, Deputy Chief Michael Deaver, and Counselor Edwin Meese brought with them some urgent business—a piece of legislation that had to be signed. And it had to be signed that day.
It had passed both houses of Congress and, like all bills sent from Congress to the President, bore the signatures of the Speaker of the House, then Democrat Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr., and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, then Republican Strom Thurmond.
The legislation would block an increase in dairy price supports that, without Reagan’s signature on this legislation, would go into effect the next day, April 1, 1981, boosting price supports and costing the government hundreds of millions of dollars. Reagan’s budget makers argued that the mounting costs of the dairy program could run into the billions of dollars.
The President needed to sign this bill that day. He did, right on his breakfast tray. His clear, … [ Read all ]
Posted by Jim on March 31, 2011, under - Presidents, Uncategorized.
Tags: assassination, Edwin Meese, George Washington University Hospital, James Baker, March 1981, Michael Deaver, Ronald Reagan, Strom Thurmond, Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., Tip O'Neill
When Ronald Reagan survived the attempt on his life on March 30, 1981, and went on to serve two full four-year terms, he broke what some people call “the year-ending-in-zero” curse.
It goes like this: Every President elected in a year ending in zero since 1840 had died in office.
William Henry Harrison, elected in 1840, died after one month in office of pneumonia; he also was our shortest serving President. On his inauguration day, then on March 4, he gave a two-hour speech without hat or topcoat, then rode through the streets of Washington. He was succeeded by John Tyler. (Remember Tippecanoe and Tyler too!)
Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, was assassinated a month into his second term, on April 12, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth. He was succeeded by Andrew Johnson.
James A. Garfield, elected in 1880, was assassinated in 1881 after only 199 days in office, succeeded by Chester A. Arthur. William McKinley, elected in 1896 and reelected in 1900, was mortally wounded in September 1901 and died eight days later, succeeded by Theodore Roosevelt.
Warren G. Harding, elected in 1920, died in 1923 of a heart attack and was succeeded by Calvin Coolidge. Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected to his third term in 1940, died early in his fourth term in April 1945 and was succeeded by Harry S. Truman.
And John … [ Read all ]
Posted by Jim on March 30, 2011, under - Presidents, Myth or History.
Tags: abraham lincoln, andrew johnson, assassination, Calvin Coolidge, Chester A. Arthur, death, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George W. Bush, Harry S. Truman, James A. Garfield, John F. Kennedy, John Tyler, John Wilkes Booth, Lyndon B. Johnson, millard fillmore, Presidents, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding, William Henry Harrison, William McKinley, year-ending-in-zero curse, Zachary Taylor
Brad Meltzer’s new mystery novel—The Inner Circle, the no. 1 bestseller on the most recent New York Times list—is all about the National Archives.
“I came to visit and I fell in love. Truly,” Meltzer says in an interview about the book in the forthcoming issue of Prologue, the quarterly magazine of the National Archives.
“Lost history, secret documents, long-forgotten letters from Presidents and other big shots—all of which tell the true history of our nation. How could a history nut not fall in love?”
In The Inner Circle, an Archives staff archivist discovers an unusual document in a very strange place that leads him to some surprising revelations about the government. But while the story is fiction, the setting is not. To research The Inner Circle, Meltzer, who had always walked by the National Archives Building in downtown Washington, DC, while researching other novels, finally came in from the cold and shadowed staffers in many of the Archives’ divisions.
“I was most amazed by the fact that you still have people combing through documents from the founding of our country,” he says. And yes, he says, he’s more appreciative of the work people do to understand and keep safe the nation’s documents.
Have you read The Inner Circle? Meltzer says he was inspired by the people he met—did you recognize any of our … [ Read all ]