JULY 11, 1957
HYDE PARK—I journeyed out to Kansas City, Mo., last Friday night to attend a reception given by Basil O'Connor, president of the Truman Library Association. Mr. O'Connor and former President and Mrs. Harry Truman stood in line while hundreds of people who had worked with Mr. Truman, besides his old friends who had known him and loved him, came to shake his hand and congratulate him on the dedication of the library in Independence.
We started bright and early Saturday morning, when the weather was beautiful, if a little warm. Everything was remarkably well planned, everyone taken care of by his or her particular host. My hosts were Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Sosland, whom I had known before and who were kindness itself.
Mr. Truman drove out to the library with us and Mrs. Truman greeted us on arrival. The building is modern and beautifully adapted to the use of both the public and the students who may come there to study this period of American history.
The morning's activities were a Masonic cornerstone-placing ceremony and a trip, conducted by Mr. Truman himself, through the rooms and galleries of the library. It is very characteristic of Mr. Truman that one of the galleries depicts all the different aspects of the Presidency. They are listed as you go in, and then, around the walls in cases, are the President's possessions which illustrate each type of Presidential activity or power.
Mr. Truman knows so much about the Constitution and the powers of the Presidency that it seems just right to have a room which will educate the American public, as it goes there, to a greater knowledge of what the office of the President means.
The landscaping, of course, is not done as yet, but there will come a day when outside the President's study window there will be a lovely rose garden. It is so arranged that there are two private entrances which will permit the President to come into his own offices without going through the lobby or museum area.
The whole building is air-conditioned, and his office is well protected from surprise callers. On the other side of the stack rooms is the room for students. They struck me as being particularly attractive and comfortable. One nice touch is a little anteroom to Mr. Truman's office containing a grand piano so that he can sit down and play whenever he wishes. And right out of his study is a small kitchen which Mrs. Truman said he told her she would be frequently called upon to use.
At the beginning of the morning ceremonies I noticed that Mrs. Truman got up and looked along the line of invited guests and seemed really troubled about something. Finally, it was found that she was searching for former President Herbert Hoover and could not find him in his designated place!
Mr. Hoover told me later that he had flown into Chicago the night before and had come down that morning to Kansas City and, for that reason, was a little late. But he joined the President on the tour of the library and remarked that both of them were now in the library business!
The dedication ceremonies took exactly an hour and five minutes, and I don't think I ever saw things move so smoothly and quickly. The speeches were short and to the point, and the Chief Justice made an excellent dedication address.
At the reception afterwards at the Truman home, the crowds were large, but everyone was greeted with such warm hospitality and Mr. Truman was so evidently happy, that I think I never remember a public function which ended with such a happy feeling.
The plane back to Washington and New York was filled with Senators and Governors and ex-officials of one kind or another, and the trip was very quick and pleasant.
For me, at least, the two days were rewarding, and I hope that the library will prove to be all that Mr. Truman hopes it to be. It certainly should be a valuable addition to the educational opportunities of that area of our country.