Welcome to the Dear Bess, Dear Harry podcast for September 15, 2023, brought to you by Harry S Truman National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service.
Today’s Dear Bess letter was written on this date in 1911, and while not very long, gives an interesting insight into life on the Truman Farm then. By then, Harry Truman’s maternal grandmother, Mrs. Harriet Louisa Gregg Young, had been dead for a couple of years, so the property was now being operated now by the Trumans. You’ll hear Harry Truman writing to his sweetheart, Miss Bess Wallace how his father, John Anderson Truman, had an accident. When a farmer has such an accident, it can have quite an impact on the output on the Farm, as any of you dear listeners who may work on farms may know! Truman himself knew. Earlier in the year he himself had worn a cast.
Truman also makes a reference to “His Majesty.” Any idea who he is referring to? Well, in case you’re wondering, he uses the reference a lot. He uses the reference when referring to the devil, and specifically to jobs he hates, and in circumstances he feels are against him.
As always, thanks for listening. Here’s the letter.
Sept 15, 1911
You owe me a letter and I am going to write you a note and tell you so. Do you know what has been hurting me all week? I actually came away and forgot that Columbian you gave me. I thought of it as soon as I got on the car and kicked myself from there home. I suppose I shouldn't tell you I forgot but should cook up some long-winded excuse for not taking it. But forget I did and I am sorry. Save it for me and I'll get it if you'll let me have it.
Do you know I believe His Majesty himself has a special grudge against us. A horse fell on Papa Tuesday and broke one of the small bones in his left foot. He'll be laid up for a month the M.D. says. I suppose as soon as he gets around again I'll take another turn. I am going to have the blacksmith make me some cast iron shoes and sox. They will name us the Insurance Grabbers Association sure now. Don't ever take out any accident insurance. Things begin to happen at once when you do. We'd worried along all our lives without any and a certain gentleman with a large vocabulary and a bent for using it roped us last December. We've been having accidents in job lots since. I really don't know but what those policies had something to do with the dry year.
I got a copy of that red Life last Saturday night and am sending it to you "under another cover", as the ad men say of a particularly heinous offense in circulars. I was in K.C. today buying small pieces of a grain drill. If you buy a whole one, it cost $75; but if you buy it by the piece, it costs $275. A binder whole costs $150, in small bits $600. They always intend to sell as many repairs as they can, too. I tried to get into connection with you over the Bell but couldn't and didn't have time to try over the Home. You owe me two letters.
Harry Truman's father suffers a broken bone in his foot, and Truman blames "His Majesty." Who is that?
Life on the Truman family farm!