Photograph of Bess Wallace as a young woman, Harry Truman as a young man.


The "Dear Bess" & "Dear Harry" Podcast

From Harry S Truman National Historic Site...a chance to share some of the stories associated with Harry Truman, Bess Wallace Truman and their times. We will share letters written between Harry Truman, Bess Wallace Truman, Margaret Truman, and others. And we'll share interesting tidbits from the Truman Administration. Items we share are from the park collection and from the collection of our friends at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, whose friendship we cherish.

Thanks for listening!


Dear Bess: November 15, 1918


Welcome to the Dear Bess/ Dear Harry podcast for November 15, 2021, a service of Harry S Truman National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service. We have a gem of a letter for you today, from Captain Harry S Truman in France, writing to Bess Wallace in Independence, Missouri. This letter gives us a glimpse of some of the politics to be found in a military unit. How we wish we had the letter from Miss Wallace that Captain Truman mentions, but, alas, it is lost. Captain Truman proudly boasts about the success of Battery D in the recently-ended World War. Somewhere in France November 15, 1918 Dear Bess: Your good letter of October 26 came today and you of course can guess how happy I am to get it. I am enclosing the forty cents for the very nice things you said to me. Being written with red ink reminds me of a letter I censored for one of my Irishmen the other day. He started out with blue ink and ran out so he said well here goes with a little blood and went on and finished his letter with red ink. I suppose his girl thought he really used blood. A letter from you written with charcoal, chalk, or clay would be fine enough to send me into the seventh heaven. I don't care what they're written with long as I get them. I am very glad that Pike Sands holds no malice for my having busted him. You know it is the hardest job a man ever undertook to be absolutely square and just to 194 men when you have good ones and bad ones (very few bad), smart ones and dull ones. I love 'em all and if anybody wants a fight or a quarrel with me he can get it suddenly and all he wants if he says anything derogatory about my Battery or one of my men. I wouldn't trade off the "orneriest" one I've got for any other whole Battery. While I'm not a braggart I believe I can take my outfit and beat any other one in the A.E.F., shooting or doing any other kind of Battery work (every Battery commander in the regiment says the same thing). I recommended one of my kids to go to West Point and he was one out of seven in the A.E.F. to go. I was as proud of him as if I had done it myself. You know I have succeeded in doing what it was my greatest ambition to do at the beginning of the war. That is to take a Battery through as Battery commander and not lose a man. We fired some ten thousand or twelve thousand rounds at Heinie and were shelled ourselves time and again but never did the Hun score a hit on me. There are rumors rife that we will go to Germany to do police and rioting duty. I'd rather go home but if your Uncle Samuel needs us in Germany, to Germany we'll go and be as happy as we can. We got in on the last drive and fired up to the last hour and I suppose that is the reason they'll send us if they do. Shall I bring you some German spoons and tableware or just some plain loot in the form of graft money? I hope they give me Coblenz or Cologne to hold down; there should be a good opportunity for a rising young captain with an itching palm, shouldn't there? I can't remember when I was ever taking any beauty sleep unless it was some time when I'd been up for 60 or 65 hours and was probably sleeping the next twenty four. I have done that several times. Once I was up so long I thought I never would want to go to bed anymore. The Major made me and I felt better after 24 hours of sleep. I hope Bill Bostian has a good time and I wish I was in his place, except that I'd like to bring the Battery home now that it has gone through the war with me. I hope to ride a prancing steed down Grand Ave. at the head of D Bty, the fourth in the column when the last parade before the muster out is made. I dreamed last night that I was trying to exchange a 100 franc note for real money in a Kansas City bank. It was a disappointment when I found I wasn't there. I got a letter from Fred today and shall proceed to answer it. Please keep writing to one who always thinks of you. Always, Harry Harry S Truman Capt Bty D 129 FA American E.F.

This letter is a gem. In it, Captain Harry S Truman boasts of the success of his artillery battery, and notes that as commander he did "not lose a man." This letter is a great one to use when assessing what the war meant to Harry Truman.

A copy of the original can be seen here:

Dear Harry: November 7, 1937


Welcome to the Dear Bess/ Dear Harry podcast for November 7, 2021…a service of Harry S Truman National Historic Site and the National Park Service.

We have a treat for you today…one of the relatively few “Dear Harry” letters that survive. In her autobiography, Margaret Truman wrote that one day, former President Harry S Truman came home from his office in Kansas City one day and found his wife burning papers. When he inquired as to what she was doing, she replied that she was burning letters. He said “But Bess, think of history!” She said, simply “I have!” We don’t know which letters, specifically, she destroyed, or why she felt compelled to do so. We are grateful to have a few of her letters to her husband. We thank Margaret Truman Daniel and her children for sharing them with us!

This gem is from November, 1937. This letter to Senator Truman gives some insight into their private lives and family. There is much we wish we knew more about. But we are glad to be able to share it with you!

[Independence, Mo.] [November 7, 1937] Sunday- Dear Harry- I was disappointed not to get a Special this a.m. but I guess the call last night will have to make up for it. Ethel called after she had seen Dr. Curran & said that he thought her eye was "definitely better"-but she can not go to school this week-He says now it's some infection & he has to find the source of it. Miss Jessie is coming out to dinner& I am supposed to go for her-but I had such a pile of ironing to do, I don't know whether I am going to get off or not. To-day is just like spring (including the wind). I telephoned Rubin yesterday to get my fur coat out of storage & I might have known it would turn warm immediately. I thought I was going to need it next Sat. You wire Bill Taylor-1312 Bass Ave. I simply haven't the nerve to call them. From henceforth I make no more engagements-The Jim Taylors are going anyway, so it won't make any difference to them except that the Bill T's weren't going to ask them 'til we had accepted. So it's quite thoroughly mixed up. Marg seems ever so much better this morning-& will be back in school tomorrow. Henry Chiles' wife is very low. He called this morning & asked for you. Said Vivian said you would be here to-day. I told him that was the first I had heard of it. I am sorry you are not getting in Wednesday. Lots of love Bess

A treat (we hope!) of the relatively few surviving "Dear Harry" letters. This letter gives us a glimpse into the life of a Senator's wife. It's a gem.

A copy of the original letter can be seen here, courtesy of the awesome Truman Library and the family of Margaret Truman Daniel:

Dear Bess: November 1, 1911


Welcome to the Dear Bess/ Dear Harry podcast for November 1, 2021…a service of Harry S Truman National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service. Today we wish to share with you a letter that Harry S Truman wrote to Bess Wallace on this date in 1911. Much of the letter focuses on the wedding of Harry Truman’s brother, John Vivian, to the lovely Luella Campbell. Luella and John Vivian Truman remained married until Vivian’s death in 1965. Together they had six children, although they lost their first, one of a set of twins, at just under the age of four, in 1916. Following their wedding, Vivian and Luella Truman moved off of the family farm and established their own. In this letter, too, we hear of how the Young/ Truman farm prepared for winter, and we hear some interesting insights into how and why Harry Truman loves music.

Grandview, Mo.

November 1, 1911

Dear Bessie:

I am most awful glad you think a letter to me worthwhile. They are more than worthwhile to me. You can never guess how glad I am to get them.

I really didn't mean to put my principal desire in the past tense. That is something that will never be past with me. My grammar was at fault, that's all.

I suppose Ethel has told you all about the wedding. I was scared nearly to death and so was Vivian. Luella was as calm as if she'd been married a dozen times before. She is more like my Grandmother Young than anyone I know. If my dear Pete doesn't make a success with her to help him, he should be blotted out. Everyone is so well satisfied with the match something surely will happen. Even her grandmother thinks Vivian is almost good enough for her, and Mamma says she's too good for him. They are down to pa-in-law's tonight. Vivian actually told me that they were going to town tomorrow to buy the furniture they need. I guess they'll be at home Monday or Tuesday. The charivari is set for Saturday I think. If it is, I'll not be present for I am coming to Independence if you'll be at home. I am going with Mary and Ethel and Nellie to the Shubert Saturday afternoon and I'd like very much to come down that night, provided of course that you have nothing better to do.

I want an auto so badly tonight I really don't know what to do. I have a special invitation to assist in the dedication of a new Lodge at Swope Park. I shall stay at home because I'd simply be a chunk of ice by the time I drove to 67th Street in a buggy. I couldn't go on the train because Papa and I had to pull up the carrots and beets and bury them this afternoon so they wouldn't freeze. If ever I get my debts paid and then have something left, I'm going to invest it in a benzine buggy, as the hobos say. Then I suppose I'll have the debts to pay over. Just imagine how often I'd burn the pike from there to Independence. I guess you'd better be glad I haven't one for I'd simply make myself monotonous to you. I guess there'll not be much danger of my coming too often this winter for I'll have to work for true, Ethel to the contrary notwithstanding. I always make it a point to invite them out when things are arranged so I haven't anything to do but tease and torment them. That is how Ethel arrived at her conclusion.

The W.M. series begins soon I see. Don't you forget you have pianist dates to go with me. Pianists are all I can stand this winter. I am crazy about any kind of pretty music but of course I can appreciate pianists most. Mary has been practicing on a Mozart sonata that has the most beautiful melody I know of. It makes you think of Greek and Roman fairy stories. Did you ever sit and listen to an orchestra play a fine overture and imagine that things were as they ought to be and not as they are? Music that I can understand always makes me feel that way. I think some of the old masters must have been in communication with a fairy goddess of some sort. That is Mozart, Chopin, and Verdi were. Wagner and Bach evidently were in cahoots with Pluto. Did you ever know that some of those men wrote the worst trash imaginable for potboilers? Raff has over a thousand compositions and about nine hundred are fit for nothing. He'd write one very time he got hungry. I guess you can't blame the poor man. That is the reason rulers should be wise enough to pick the geniuses and pension them so they can do their best. It seems to me that they would be easy enough picked out because they always beat their wives, or run away with some other man's. Wouldn't Reno be full of pensioners?

I hope you'll be home Saturday. If you're not, it'll be my loss of course. I'll phone in the morning sometime after I get to town.

You see, I am sending you the other half of that sheet I tore in two before.

I want you to show me some stenciling when I come down. I never saw any I guess, even it is ancient. If I have, I knew it not. You owe me a letter now. Next time I'll wind up and fill two full sheets. Now you know what's coming, so beware.

Sincerely, Harry

In this letter from November 1, 1911, Harry Truman describes to Bess Wallace his brother John Vivian's wedding to Luella Campbell, preparing the farm for winter, and his love of music. As always, he expresses his desire to see her in Independence.

A digital copy of the original can be seen here:

Dear Bess: October 26, 1917


Welcome to the Dear Harry, Dear Bess podcast, a service of Harry S Truman National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service. Today we would like to share with you a letter that Harry S Truman wrote his sweetheart, Miss Bess Wallace, on this date, October 26, in 1917 while in Oklahoma, preparing to serve in World War I in France. This letter has some splendid descriptions of Captain Truman’s environment and of some of his colleagues in arms.

Perhaps some of you listening have letters from loved ones serving in the military. Maybe this will inspire you to find and read them again. Cherish them. Preserve them for the future generations of your genealogy. We’re grateful that Bess Wallace Truman and her husband saved these.

[October 26, 1917] Dear Bess: This has been another fine day. Your letter came on time today. I'll admit that our mail service is [illegible] all right but it is improving and I hope that very soon it will be perfect running order. Father Tiernan is in charge and has built himself a fine tent to work in. Mr. Lee and I have our tent boxed up now and it is like living in a house. The floor is bright and new and shows the dust awful plain but I think we'll soon have it black enough so that will be remedied. Our dust storms continue with charming regularity. Some of the natives are of the opinion that they will quit but I doubt it. Mary sent me a box of fine cakes yesterday and another today. I had a regular party. It was just like flies around a sugar bowl. The Col. and Lt. Col. were among the flies too. They feed us fine but things from home sure taste good. We received our full quota of drafted men yesterday. The regiment is was strength now. They are a fine bunch of fellows. Most of them are big huskies from Missouri farms. Some are from St. Louis and Kansas City. They seem to be as well satisfied as could be expected. They all have fine big overcoats and O. D clothes which is more than we have. We all have stoves now and can keep warm at night anyway. Your enclosure is very fine. I have had my hat stretched on the nice things she said about me. I only wish I could be half as fine as some people think I am then I'd know I wouldn't stay in Okla all eternity. I slipped up on your letter last night because I had no place to write all our goods and chattels were scattered from here to yonder on account of getting into our new house. I am going to send this special on the bet that it may not appear until Sunday and I'll do your tomorrow's the same way. You may get them both on Sunday. I am hoping to see you soon. You never can tell how the Commanding Officer is going to act but I am doing all I can to get away on Nov. 7. It looks good. Write every time you get a chance.

Yours always


In this letter, Harry S Truman, in camp in Oklahoma, describes camp life to Bess Wallace.

A digital copy of the original can be seen here:

Dear Bess: October 20, 1918


Welcome to the Dear Bess/ Dear Harry podcast for October 20, 2021, a service of Harry S Truman National Historic Site and the National Park Service. Today we wish to share with you a letter that Captain Harry S Truman, in France serving with Battery D, 129th Field Artillery, wrote to his fiancée, Bess Wallace, back home in Independence, Missouri. In this letter Captain Truman tries to paint a portrait of France for his fiancée, describing his service, while assuring her he is OK and isn’t taking unnecessary chances. It’s an extraordinary letter. Oct 20, 1918 Dear Bess: This is certainly a banner day. I received four letters from you. You were still without any letters from me except one. I wrote you at the first place we were in action. That was a very tame affair compared with what we have been through since as I told you in my last letters. I am awfully sorry I could not write to you in all that last time but it was simply an impossibility. For one thing I had nothing to write with and another I could not have written a sane coherent letter if I had tried. It was the most terrific experience of my life and I hope I don't have to go through with it many more times although we are going to bust Heine if it takes us all and I don't think there is a man in the organization who wouldn't give his life to do it. Please don't worry about us or about me I should say because I am egotistical enough to think that I am your principle [sic] worry. I am very comfortably situated now in a finely furnished dugout with stoves and everything. If I am lucky we may remain a good long time. I think they are trying to let us rest up from our hard work of last month. We marched half across France and were at it every night. I lost nearly all my horses just from marching so far without getting enough rest. We are recuperating now and I hope that before long everyone will be as good as new. For myself I am as fat and healthy as I ever was in my life and except for being a little deaf I have suffered no ill effects from the experience. Maj. Miles is not captured. None of our officers were hurt except one whom you never met. His name is Kenady and he calls it with a long a and accents that sylable. He was gassed slightly. I am glad Mrs. Sands is pleased with my treatment of Irving. I could do nothing else. Mary wrote me that she had met the Aunt of another fellow in my battery whom I just got through busting from a corporal to private. I don't think he will take to it kindly. I haven't taken any unnecessary chances but I had to go back after my guns. No good battery commander would send anyone else after guns he'd left in position under the same circumstances I left those two. I don't claim to be a good B.C. but I have to act like one anyway. I doubt very much if I'll get to come home before the war is over, and much as I'd like to I want to see the finish. I am so pleased that I was lucky enough to get in on the drive that bade the Boche squeal for peace that I sometimes have to pinch myself to see if I am dreaming or not. It really doesn't seem possible that a common old farmer boy could take a battery in and shoot it on such a drive and I sometimes think I just dreamed it. You may be sure that we will make up for lost time when I do get home. I think of you and dream of you all the time. I dreamed no longer ago than last night that I was going to my own (& yours) wedding and I just was on the point of kissing the bride when I woke up and found myself some 4000 miles away and in a dugout. It was some disappointment I tell you. They are not sending as many officers back now as they were. There seems to be a shortage over here. I certainly appreciated the Doniphan pictures and I'm all puffed up that you would think of having one of me enlarged. Wait till you get the postcard one of me with a helmet on. You will then see that I am fattened up again although I'll admit that I have some more gray hairs. Keep on writing because your letters brighten the days. I'll never cease loving you. Yours always Harry Harry S Truman Capt. Bty D 129 FD American E.F. The poem about Gen. Sherman is true.

One of the most powerful of all the letters. Captain Harry S Truman, writing in France, describes life on the front in World War I and again professes his deep love for the letter's recipient, Bess Wallace.

A digital copy of the original can be seen here:

Dear Bess: October 18, 1939


Hello and welcome to the Dear Bess/ Dear Harry podcast, a service of Harry S Truman National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service. Today we present a Dear Bess letter that Senator Harry S Truman wrote to Mrs. Truman on October 18, 1939. Early in the letter he discusses the upcoming wedding of his nephew John C. Truman. John C. Truman was a son of Senator Truman’s brother, John Vivian Truman, and served in the US Navy during World War II on the USS Missouri, and later served as clerk for the US District Court of Western Missouri for 20 years. In this letter, too, you sense that the Jimmy Stewart film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” hits a nerve…Senator Truman thinks the portrayal of the Senate is sort of unfair. What do you think? Washington, D.C. October 18, 1939 Dear Bess: Was most happy to get your Monday letter enclosing J. C.'s invitation. Well, if he wants to become a Catholic I have no objection, of course. Now don't pass the buck to me on the wedding present - you know more about what is correct than I ever will. I'm very fond of those nephews. You ought to appreciate how I feel toward them by your own feeling for Fred's children. You put the amount into the present that you'd want to put into it for your own nephew. Get 'em something they can use and can't break up. Here's another one, too, who'll have to have a present. She's a tough egg, but Lester Jordon would cut a throat for me and we'll have to come across with something. Five dollars is enough for this one. This is her second venture. The first one resulted in a cross-eyed son, so cross-eyed it makes your head ache to look at him. Just as bad as the crazy movie actor, Roscoe Ates, or whatever his name is. Hope you got your hat all right and that the bridge game was a success. Went to see Mr. Smith Goes to Washington last night with Minton. Sat in a box with J. Monroe Johnson and Mrs. Johnson, with Louis Johnson next to us in another box. Jim Farley, old man Norris, Wheeler, Guffey and a lot of other Senators were present. It makes asses out of all Senators who are not crooks. But it also shows up the correspondents in their true drunken light too. And that reminds me that the chief correspondent for the Post-Dispatch came by and told me the P.D. had decided to give me a fair break in their news columns for the coming campaign. May see you Friday night at 8:47 K.C. time at the airport; will call if it happens. Is Margie's hand paralyzed? Love to you both, Harry

In this letter to Mrs. Truman, Senator Harry Truman writes about family weddings, and his unhappiness about the movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

A digital copy of the original letter can be seen here: Washington, D.C. October 18, 1939

Dear Bess: October 4, 1939


Welcome to the Dear Bess and Dear Harry podcast, a service of Harry S Truman National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service. Today we would like to share with you a letter that Senator Harry S Truman wrote to his wife Bess on October 4, 1939. In this letter you get a hint of how funerals can lead to interesting political moments, and how the Trumans negotiated for cars. And it’s a nice example of how Harry Truman preferred Chryslers. In some of these letters the Trumans exchanged stories that evidently meant something to them. But since Mrs. Truman seemingly destroyed most of her correspondence to her husband, some of the references are unknown. That’s where detective work comes in. Maybe you would like to connect the dots based on what’s here? The original Dear Bess and Dear Harry letters are preserved for posterity at the Truman Library. The research room is open to all…not just historians and researchers. When COVID passes and the Truman Library opens, please consider visiting the research room. These materials are preserved for you! Many of them are online, too! Washington, D.C. October 4, 1939 Dear Bess: Your letter came just now and I am glad the special finally got there. I have to go to old man Logan's funeral - Barkley made a special request. I'm going over to Caruthersville and make a neutrality speech Sunday, so I'll have lots of letters when I get back here. Will call you from Memphis and from Caruthersville so we won't be out of touch. Barkley, Halsey, et al. think I should take advantage of the free ride to the funeral to help the situation on earth here, so I'm going to do it. Glad you don't feel too badly about Oscar. He's a lovable kid and I'm always sympathetic to the weak boys. Might have been one myself under certain conditions. But along lines like that I'm rather like my mamma, and she has no weaknesses except to talk too frankly. I'm pleased at the car deal. You will get the radio yet. The Chrysler, I think, is a better buy. We're learning how to deal at last. There's a hundred dollars we'd never have had if we'd jumped at the first offer. Whenever you think they've reached the end of their deal, take the car home and I'll fix it up when I get there. They told me that any deal I made would be either cash or credit. It look as if the Crown deal would pay for both trades if we make 'em. Mr. Clark is all the way in my band wagon. He's been almost on the edge of kissing me for two days. Got mad at the Gov. while he was here. I asked Mr. Shoop why he treated the Gov. so mean on his F.B.I. speech. Said he wouldn't have noticed him at all if he could have helped it. Kiss Margie, love to you, Harry

An interesting letter from Senator Harry Truman to his wife, October 4, 1939. haggling...and Oscar?

The letter for today can be found here:

Dear Bess: September 23, 1947


Welcome to the 219 North Delaware Street podcast, a service of Harry S Truman National Historic Site and the National Park Service.

Today we would like to share with you a letter that President Harry Truman sent to his wife Bess Wallace Truman on September 23, 1947. You immediately understand that the President is very much missing his family. You also begin hearing how his administration is planning post World War II aid for the people of Europe, a program unlike anything America had ever done before.

[The White House] September 23, 1947 Dear Bess: Well you and Margie have been gone three days. It seems like three months. The old place is like a deserted village and the ghosts still walk. I leave my doors open so I can tell which way they are going. Been sleeping so soundly however I haven't heard them only when I wake up at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. It's still an old barn in the form of a jail for me. Marshall and Lovett were in yesterday morning and went over the European situation from soup to nuts with me. It's pretty bad but not quite as bad as I thought it would be. If it works out as planned it will cost us about sixteen billions over a four year period. I cancelled 42 billions in appropriations for the last half of 1945 so if we can buy peace and quiet for about 2/5 of half year's war cost it will be cheap at the price. But I don't know what squirrel heads like Taber, Herter, Bridges and Byrd will think of it. All of 'em are living in 1890 when a billion dollar Congress beat the Republicans in 1892. That was for the two years too. This amount of 16 Billions is just the amount of the national debt when Franklin took over. He ran it up to 40 odd and then the war came along and it is 257 but we can't understand those figures anyway. The sixteen countries seem to have done an honest job at Paris. Our difficulty is corn crop shortage, price inflation and the consenting of South and Central American countries to help us. But it is not so bad as two wars 3 and 7 thousand miles away. And that's what it was April 12, '45. It's a most beautiful day and cold. It was 42? this morning. But sunshine gives a better outlook and I need that. Have some very grave decisions to make between now and Saturday. Hope you are having a nice time. Kiss my girl. Lots of love, Harry.

A letter from President Truman to his First Lady, September 23, 1947.

The original can be seen here:

Dear Bess: September 15, 1911


Welcome to the 219 North Delaware Street podcast, a service of Harry S Truman National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service. Today we would like to share with you a letter that Harry Truman wrote to Bess Wallace on September 15, 1911. In this letter he talks about some reading materials that Miss Wallace lent him, an accident that his father, John Anderson Truman, had on the farm. Can you guess who “his majesty” is? This letter is a good example of how Truman gave wonderful insights into working his family’s farm, hazards and all. Grandview, Mo. September 15, 1911 Dear Bessie: 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. Sincerely, Harry

In this letter to his sweetheart, Harry Truman shares some of the challenges his family is having on the Farm, and talks about some of the reading materials he and Miss Bess Wallace are exchanging.

The original letter can be found here:

Dear Bess: September 10 1912


Welcome to the 219 North Delaware Street podcast. Today we would like to share one of the letters that Harry Truman wrote to his sweetheart, Miss Bess Wallace. Harry Truman likely wrote this from his family’s farm home new Grandview, Missouri, and Miss Wallace was in Independence. Although the distance wasn’t that far in terms of miles, to Harry Truman Miss Wallace was almost a world away. But via letters like this Truman shared his thoughts, his frustrations on the Farm, and his love for Miss Wallace.

September 10, 1912 Grandview, Mo. [Sept 9, 1912] Dear Bess: I am going to put in this Monday evening properly. I have practiced on Polly's wedding march, read a short story, and am ending up by endeavoring to obtain a letter from you. Today has been the most satanic we've had, to my notion. I took an energetic spell last week and decided to clean out the barn cistern and put a pump on it. Well, last Friday evening Boon and I began draining water about four o'clock I guess. Well, we took bucket-about until after six. I guess we must have taken out some hundreds of gallons - and it looked as if there was as much water as ever. We finally quit because it got dark. I took it on myself to finish getting the water out of the cistern by this afternoon. I'll bet I drew some two hundred gallons more or less, and there's still some water in the blooming thing. I'll get its goat tomorrow though. Then I want it to rain about three inches and fill the thing up. I was on the east side of the barn where breezes were scarce and sunshine was plentiful and exceeding hot, as Moses has remarked about the future residence of some of us. I haven't been much warmer since I sat on Mr. Slaughter's hogs while they were being vaccinated. He had some weighing about two hundred and as strong as mules. It was necessary to sneak up and grab a hind leg, then hold on until someone else got another hold wherever he could, and then proceed to throw Mr. hog and sit on him while he got what the Mo. University says is good for him. A two-hundred-pound hog can almost jerk the ribs loose from your backbone when you get him by the hind leg. It is far and away the best exercise in the list. It beats Jack Johnson's whole training camp as a muscle toughener. I helped at that job all morning Saturday and was supposed to get back this morning and finish. Maybe you think I wasn't glad when I called up and found out he'd done the job yesterday without my assistance. I'm most glad he was so scared. He is our important neighbor. That is, in his own estimation. He is a good neighbor but there is a difference in opinions, you know. We have another one that's a caution. He came up and helped us thresh oats. Along four o'clock he said to the man who was pitching bundles up on the wagon to him, "Do you suppose this man pays every night? I'd like awful well if he would, because I've got to stop by the store and get a little coffee and sugar for breakfast." The pitcher was a poor man and came very near lending that old codger a dollar. He's worth a hundred thousand dollars and probably had a wad on him big enough to choke a mule. To look at him you'd think he was a Dago ( we substitute Italian) ditch-digger or something of the kind. He always has about a thousand dollars in bills in his pocket, too. Papa told him someone would cave his head in sometime, but he says no one would think he had any money. You wouldn't either if you didn't know him. He is always trying to appear as a very hard-up poor man and makes out like he's powerful ignorant, while the one I mentioned first wants to appear as a leading citizen with a bushel of brains. Maybe you can guess which is the more popular and also which has the basket of brains. I'm hoping that Boxley or Cox will get me some good seats for Friday. If he don't, there is going to be a grand row. I think I'll take my grouch out on Polly if things don't hitch just to suit. She had no business coming to see me when I want to go see someone else. Now has she? We'll make Friday as joyous as Saturday would have been anyway. Let's go try your new lunch counter, what do you say? I can meet you somewhere and we can have a whole long, fine evening if you would care to. I hope you will. Answer quick and let me know. Most sincerely, Harry

In this letter from Harry Truman to Bess Wallace, Mr. Truman shares some insights into the challenging world of living on a farm. He talks about his neighbors, workers on the farm, and is planning to see his sweetheart. Truman also makes reference to his friend "Polly Compton" in Independence, You can read an oral history with Mr. Compton's daughter here: