Oral History Interview with
Neighbor and longtime friend of Harry S. Truman
February 12, 1964
by J. R. Fuchs
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview
Transcript | Appendix | List of Subjects Discussed]
These are transcripts of tape-recorded interviews conducted for the Harry
S. Truman Library. A draft of each transcript was edited by the interviewee
but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember
that these are essentially transcripts of the spoken, rather than the
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript
indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the Babcock
oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced
for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission
of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened December, 1971
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices
and Restrictions | Interview Transcript
| Appendix | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
February 12, 1964
by J. R. Fuchs
FUCHS: Well, Mr. Babcock, we might start out with asking you to give
us a brief sketch of your career, your life, where you were born, who
your parents were, and your background in Missouri, and your subsequent
activities up to date, just briefly.
BABCOCK: I was born near the little town of Waldron, Missouri in Platte
County, just a few miles out of the city limits of Kansas City on August
7, 1887. I was born on this farm near Waldron in a log house. I had three
sisters. My father was farming on shares the farm where I was born and
working for the owner of the farm cutting wood and logs.
Several years after I was born, my father and mother were able to buy
this farm; after purchasing my sisters' shares it is now owned by me.
Mr. Whitely, from whom we bought this farm, prevailed upon my father
and mother to move to a farm that he owned, located in Jackson County,
Missouri, now a part of Kansas City, Missouri. We went to that farm after
Mr. Whitely had made my father a trustee for the part of his estate which
controlled this property. My father had been prevailed upon by Mr. Whitely
to take over this farm some two years before he actually did. However,
my father refused to do this, because at that time, Mr. Whitely had a
living son that my father thought perhaps Mr. Whitely should put on this
farm rather than having my father do it.
FUCHS: Can you locate this farm by present-day landmarks, approximately?
BABCOCK: Yes, it is known as the Ruskin Heights area located one-half
mile east of Hickman Mills, Missouri in Jackson County.
FUCHS: You moved to that farm, then, and resided there for a considerable
BABCOCK: Yes, as I say, we moved there on March 2, 1904. My father lived
in the main house -- there were two other houses on this farm. The principal
house, which was a rather large house, was occupied by our family
until 1911 when I was married; I moved to a smaller house on this farm
and my father and mother and sisters continued to live in the main house.
My father was killed in an automobile accident in Tennessee in December,
1925; my mother continued to live in that house for another year and I
continued to live in the smaller house.
FUCHS: Was that considered a lease at that time in 1904?
BABCOCK: Well, actually it is a rather hard thing to describe. Mr. Whitely
had made and delivered, a warranty deed to this farm of 640 acres. This
deed was made to my father and Mr. Whitely's four grandchildren and my
father was to act as trustee. The division or partition was not to be
made until the youngest child of these grandchildren became of age. But,
suit was brought to set this aside; it was not settled entirely at the
time of my father's death.
FUCHS: The point I was trying to bring out there -- Mr. Truman has told
me that your father, at one time, leased a farm which was close to his
farm, and I was wondering if that was this farm or another farm that he
had in mind.
BABCOCK: No, it was this farm. Let me correct one thing. When this warranty
deed was written, in the description it was set out that my father was
either to use it himself and pay the ordinary running rental of the neighborhood
or to lease it out. You see, he had that privilege.
Now, that is probably where you got this lease arrangement. He had that
privilege, and he chose to use it all and he rented other farms around.
He was a fairly big operator for that time.
FUCHS: Actually, then, it was a slight misconception that your father
was actually leasing this farm.
BABCOCK: Simply as a lease, that's right. He had the privilege of going
either way, you see. And yet, that wouldn't have changed the intent here
of the future ownership of it -- whether he leased it; he was to get a
reasonable amount for handling it, see. He never made a charge in cash
for serving as a trustee for the others, because he said in farming, "Oh,
there are always things that you can't accept money for and you can't
charge for." It's a going custom on farms that maybe things that have
not a cash value do have a value to the person on the farm,
don't you see! And, all those things entered into it.
Now, while I know that my father had done many things to justify his
getting the fourth interest in this place and I know we did many things
after that that an ordinary tenant would not do, my sisters and I were
very comfortably fixed for a living, so that we chose not to go ahead
and try and appeal these cases and try to hold our fourth interest that
was set out for us.
FUCHS: In other words, the other heirs were contesting your right to
a fourth interest and you decided to give that up. I want to come back,
of course, to your life on the farm and your relationship to Mr. Truman,
but, to go ahead, then, what did you do after you...
BABCOCK: Between the years of 1904 and 1925, there were various suits
brought by different heirs in the Whitely estate because he had quite
a big estate. The heirs were scrapping among themselves for certain things;
they were trying to claim some of the things that one branch of heirs
had inherited, don't you see, and break the will, and break, in this case,
case the deed.
So, my father actually entered into some of these suits. I mean, he was
named in the deed, and he joined the heirs that held this property jointly
with himself and actually spent some of his own money on this. Some of
these suits pertained to dislodging my father from this property, and
changing the rental agreement and many things. And, it was in these suits,
that we had, as witnesses, a number of our neighbors who were familiar
with how the farm was handled by my father and the rent that was paid
by other farm renters in the area. And Mr. Truman and Vivian Truman, along
with other neighbors, were always willing to work with us and help to
see that we got justice in these suits.
FUCHS: What was the year of these suits, approximately?
BABCOCK: Mr. Abner Whitely, who owned this, died in 1908; the first suit
was brought within a year and then there were numerous other suits at
different times until the estate was settled.
FUCHS: Do you know if Harry Truman appeared as a witness?
BABCOCK: I do not recall if Harry ever appeared as a
witness. I think he was never, probably, as far as I know, asked to appear.
I think that Vivian and his father, J. A., especially Vivian, were more
familiar with the farm operation than was Harry.
FUCHS: Was their appearance primarily in the role of character witnesses
or to give testimony as to actual operation of the farm -- things that
might interest the court in other ways.
BABCOCK: I think it was probably both; as a character witness and as
a farm operator. I think it was how the farm was operated, whether the
rentals were at the going rate of the area, and the type farmer my father
FUCHS: This evidenced, then, rather a close relationship, would you say,
between your father and John Anderson Truman and Vivian Truman?
BABCOCK: Yes, that's right. And, of course, other neighbors of my father's,
many other neighbors. Of course, we exchanged work at thrashing time,
each and every year, with a circle of neighbors there, of which the Trumans
were one. We were the best of friends and everything was agreeable; we
never had a cross word with the Trumans. They were fine to
work with. I know my father was with Harry in a business way more than
I was, because I was some four years younger than Harry.
I know my father lent Harry money, different times. I handled my father's
estate and I recall I saw some old checks that he'd given Harry for money
that he'd lent him; and I found no place in closing this estate where
Harry had not paid what he had borrowed -- that's where he had borrowed
directly. I did find and did know about one unpaid note that Mr. Truman
had endorsed in 1914 and guaranteed paid for another endorser. I personally
went to Harry, after my father was killed, and talked to Harry about this,
and Harry said he would see Mary Jane and Vivian and would take care of
it right away.
FUCHS: Who was the other endorser on this note and what was the purpose...
BABCOCK: The name was Brauner. He worked for the Kansas City Auto Club.
FUCHS: Kansas City Auto Club, now that was in...
BABCOCK: That was located just west of Hickman Mills, a short distance.
FUCHS: That was their headquarters for their main activity?
BABCOCK: No. I think they had it in Kansas City. This was over where
they had the golf club. I've done a lot of business with the golf club.
I owned two places of business in Hickman Mills.
FUCHS: How did John Anderson Truman and Mr. Brauner happen to be associated
together in such a note?
BABCOCK: My father and J. A. Truman, Harry's father, were the best of
friends. They were men who worked hard and they were the type men who
enjoyed fellowship. Frankly they liked a good meeting where they could
have a good nip of old Kentucky whiskey once in a while; both of them
did. And at the Auto Club, this man, Brauner, as I recall, did have charge
of the bar there and I would imagine that they were spending a little
time there. Now, neither one of the men was a heavy drinker. They did
not drink to excess, but they did enjoy a little fellowship of that type.
Now, while I was not there when the note was made, I know it was made.
I have it now. I had talked to my father some about his papers. He was
not a rich man but he did have quite a number of small loans out. In fact,
he was a sort of banker
for the neighborhood. In that neighborhood if a man needed a small loan,
my father would lend it to him as my father liked his interest; and I
have found many small loans that were not paid at all, or not paid in
full. He trusted many people -- just about everybody. And, getting back
to this one note...
FUCHS: What was the approximate date of this note, the year?
BABCOCK: It was not too long before his death. It was in May, '14. And,
I think Mr. Truman died not too long after that; that probably was the
reason it wasn't settled directly between the two men, because Mr. Truman
was a man who paid what he owed.
FUCHS: He was really the co-signer on this?
BABCOCK: Yes, he was the co-signer and the other man either died or refused
to pay. The reason that my father evidently asked Mr. Truman to sign it
was that he didn't fully trust the other man. Co-signing is a common thing;
this I do all the time now in my bank.
There is quite a long story on this particular note. My father could
have bought some property at the time that Mr. Truman's personal property
was sold at a farm sale, but my recollection is that he and Harry sort
of had an understanding that Harry
would take care of it later. For some reason it wasn't taken care of
and it may have been because my father didn't demand the money, because
my father was a man who refrained from dunning a man, who he thought was
honest and would pay. That too, was a common practice, especially at that
day and age.
But when it fell in my hands as administrator of my father's estate,
it became necessary to see the signers of all these papers and the people
who handled them and try to collect. And, it was in that way that I went
to Harry's office in Kansas City and had a talk with him, after I had
tried to collect from him earlier.
FUCHS: This would have been about what year?
BABCOCK: It was in January, 1927. That's when Harry told me that he would
see his brother and sister and they would take care of it. A few days
later, I got a very short, curt letter from Harry setting out that that
was between my father and his father and he wasn't going to do anything
about it. Now, I didn't like that at all, but, if he was going to say
that to me, I felt he should have said it to me when I was in his office,
rather than tell
me that he would take care of it as soon as he saw Vivian and Mary Jane.
Now, unto this day, I do not have the good feeling toward Harry that I'd
like to have. I feel that once anything is owed, it is owed till it's
FUCHS: Why do you think he changed his mind?
BABCOCK: I have no idea. I have dealt with people who would be nice to
your face and get you away from them and then have the courage to say
things they didn't have the courage to say. That is to me, the lowest
type person. Now, whether it's that, I don't know, or whether he talked
with his brother and sister and they refused to do anything, but I can
tell you, I knew the Trumans for many years. I just do not believe that
the brother and sister would take that attitude if they thought that their
father had agreed to do something and it wasn't carried out. I knew it
wouldn't be their wishes. I just can't believe it, especially true of
Mary. Mary's my favorite.
FUCHS: Then you think that perhaps he didn't even bring this to their
BABCOCK: Yes, if I had one guess, my first guess was that he actually
never took it up with his brother
and sister because there had been many years of ill feeling along money
matters between Vivian and Harry. I knew Vivian well. I've talked many
times with Vivian about the money matters in their own family. Vivian
had a deep hatred toward Harry about Harry's having had his mother put
a mortgage on her farm and he used the money and apparently didn't pay
it. Vivian had talked to me a number of times about it and had said some
very mean things about Harry in connection with this very act that Harry
FUCHS: Can you remember any of those things that might point up the matter
a little bit more precisely?
BABCOCK: I think, perhaps, Vivian had talked to me more about this because,
first, he wanted to get it off his chest; he was mad at his brother for
having had his mother mortgage her farm and maybe, for all I know, loaned
him other money that came from other sources, from her personally. But,
as I say, I think maybe that he realized that Harry had been borrowing
some money from my father in connection with his operation of the haberdashery
in Kansas City, and some other
deals and as I recall some oil venture; the one check that I could find
that I have now in the amount of $1500, that my father had loaned Harry,
on the corner in my father's handwriting, it was marked for loan (spelled
"lond"). Now, I do not know the background of that...where those funds
went or for what purpose.
FUCHS: What was the date of that check?
BABCOCK: That date was January 14, 1914. Now, I think the one time that
we were talking about this money matter between Harry and Vivian, the
most venomous remark Vivian ever made in my presence about this matter
was when Harry returned from the First World War. Vivian and I were together
and the morning paper, as I recall, set out that Harry and some other
boys from our area were to return to Kansas City by train. I remarked
to Vivian, "I see by the morning paper. that Harry's coming back this
morning," and Vivian's remark was...he stomped his foot down and said,
"Well, hell, you couldn't kill some people."
Well, that, of course, shocked me no end.
FUCHS: He said it in all seriousness?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Vivian and I were the best
of friends and very close neighbors because at the time this happened,
the farm that he was renting was only -- well, it joined the farm that
I was living on. We lived less than a half mile apart, you see.
FUCHS: Was your farm contiguous to the Truman family farm? In other words,
were there common fence lines?
BABCOCK: No. The Slaughter farm was between the farm that we were living
on and the farm the Trumans were living on, owned by the Young estate.
FUCHS: This was what direction from the Truman farm?
BABCOCK: Our farm was northeast from the Truman farm. Well, part of the
Truman farm was directly south of the farm we had.
Well, Harry Truman, now, and I never had a cross word, not one. Harry
gave me some of my lodge work. I still belong to No. 618 at Grandview,
Missouri, where he'd served as Worshipful Master; Harry was a very good
lodge man. In fact, I have quite a number of times told people, in talking
about Harry, that I think one of the things that helped develop him as
a speaker and made it possible for him to get acquainted and become President
was his Masonic work.
FUCHS: Well, Mr. Babcock, you were telling, before I interrupted, a little
bit about your close relationship with Vivian Truman. Would you elaborate
a bit on that?
BABCOCK: Vivian and I, well, there was just two years' difference in
our ages; we mingled with a young group before we were married. In fact,
we went with sisters for a time. Of course, I was with Vivian more than
with Harry and I think I knew Vivian's disposition as well as I knew the
dispositions of my own folk; and I was with Harry and around him in working
at his home, enough to know his disposition. I think Harry's disposition
was more like that of his mother; well, Harry's and Vivian's dispositions
both, were more like that of their mother than their father.
Mr. J. A. Truman was a very likeable man. Now, as against that, I think
Harry's mother's disposition was rather short and caustic; and I can see
in his remarks his mother's influence, bloodline, or something coming
out all the time. I think it's showing more all the time in Harry's disposition.
When I refer to this sarcastic trait, that seems to run with the Youngs
-- Mrs. Truman, Harry's mother,
had been a Young. I knew Harry's uncle, Harrison Young, from having exchanged
work. While Mr. Young did not work with us in our harvesting and thrashing,
he was on the premises and we were spending some time, especially around
mealtimes with him, and I got acquainted with him and his disposition
in that way.
FUCHS: How did he spend his time?
BABCOCK: Well, he seemed not to work. Now, he was getting up into years,
you understand, Harrison was. I knew him by being with him there; I knew
him better, maybe, from hearsay, because he'd been around in the country
and so many of my neighbors had known him. He was known for being rather
sarcastic and, well, I don't know whether the word's quarrelsome or not.
But the most extreme case that I heard of -- now, I do not know this is
true -- was that he and some of the neighbors got into an argument --
as I understand, each was on horseback.
FUCHS: Do you recall who the other neighbor was?
BABCOCK: No, I do not, because that was before we went down there. And,
as I recall, either Harrison Young or the other neighbor attempted to
shoot the other one. And, the one who was being shot at jerked the
reins of the horse and the horse raised his head in the line of fire,
and the horse was killed.
Now, I think that both Harry and Vivian had this kind of disposition
more than did Mary. I think Mary was and is an admirable person.
FUCHS: Do you remember Harrison Young as being, would you say, quick-tempered?
BABCOCK: Yes, and a little on the bullish side. I say that, as I recall,
he had a very good opinion of himself and of the entire family, and I
think he carried it on his shoulders. I think he felt that maybe they
were justified in a little more respect than the average person was justified
FUCHS: Would you say that Martha Ellen Young Truman, Harry's mother,
was -- you say caustic, would you say she was dogmatic, rather opinionated,
is that what you mean or am I putting words in your mouth?
BABCOCK: No, not necessarily. They were given to that a lot, you know,
just sort of belittling you, you know, I hope you know what I mean. And,
John Truman was just the reverse; instead of trying to embarrass you,
he would try to make you feel comfortable and compliment you.
I remember the last year that I worked with Mr. Truman, very well; and
I think it was the last day on their farm, he had a little wager, probably
in a joking way that I would be the first one in the field to go to work
that morning; that is, the first one other than their own people that
were on the farm. And, sure enough, I, just fortunately, was the first
one. We all had regular jobs then. I was a bundle hauler.
FUCHS: You're speaking now of the last harvest.
BABCOCK: Last thrashing on the Truman farm and Mr. Truman bet -- I don't
know whether there was any money or not -- that I would be the first one.
FUCHS: Would this have been the fall of the year he died?
BABCOCK: It was in the summer, probably in July or August prior to the
time he died, yes.
BABCOCK: Yes, and, if you did a good job, he would compliment you. In
a crowd, he tried to make it easy for everyone. Instead of not noticing
maybe a water hauler or a child, he would notice them. And if you did
a good job, he would compliment them. He made you want to do a good job.
That's Mr. Truman.
FUCHS: Now, on this thrashing crew, you say you were a bundle hauler.
Now, what were some of the other jobs and did Harry have a job on this.
BABCOCK: The last time I worked with Harry, he was driving a bundle wagon.
It was on our old home farm, the last time I worked with him. Harry looked
after many things around when they were farming for themselves at their
farm, you see. Harry's mother did not help in the dining room or kitchen
when I was there being served at dinner. Harry and Mary, invariably, waited
on the table for us when we were there as harvest help.
FUCHS: Would that be about the only time of the year that you would be
on their farm?
BABCOCK: In their home, yes. That's right. At the harvest time.
FUCHS: Did you visit there sociably at other times?
BABCOCK: No, sir, I did not, not sociably. Vivian and I were, as I told
you, in the same young crowd, but for some reason, we were never in their
home in a young crowd. I do not know why. Now, they were at our house
many times. I had three sisters and we had many parties and a lot of activity
in our home; and
frankly, Mary, if she ever had a boy friend, I never knew of it, never.
And, she's single to this day.
FUCHS: Why do you think that's so?
BABCOCK: I think it wasn't because she was not attractive enough. You
know, some girls are just so doggone fine, that for some reason or other,
boys stand aloof, you know. I don't know. If Harry ever had any sweethearts
other than the woman he married, I never knew it. Because, you see, his
wife lived in Independence; at that time it was quite a distance from
where we lived and where Harry lived, and I expect most of his courtship,
no doubt, was over in that area.
He seemed to be more interested in National Guard work and in reading,
and in music. When we were exchanging work at his home, if he had a little
time prior to the serving of the meal, instead of coming out and associating
with us men, who were waiting for a short time before we ate, he played
the piano. It was very noticeable. Mr. Truman and Vivian, who were just
the opposite disposition from Harry, seemed to have different interests.
FUCHS: Did you ever discuss this with other men there or...
BABCOCK: Yes, we did. It could not help being noticeable.
Yes, I have been around the Trumans in many ways and I do recall one
rather unusual occasion. There were eight of us men from around Hickman
Mills and Grandview that went to Havre, Montana, on an Indian land drawing
in the fall of 1913. The eight were the following men: Harry Truman, Vivian
Truman, J. A. Truman, Leslie Hall, William Hall, Stanley Hall, Dr. Young,
and myself. Eight men, four Democrats, four Republicans.
FUCHS: Who's Dr. Young?
BABCOCK: He was a veterinarian.
FUCHS: No relationship to the Youngs?
BABCOCK: No relationship to them. He was a man that had grown up in the
area and had gone to school to be a veterinarian, and I had been in school
with him in the Ruskin High School.
FUCHS: Do you recall his first name?
BABCOCK: Yes, Edward.
FUCHS: How did you go to Montana?
BABCOCK: We went on the train. I recall I was not together with these
men after we returned home, but I do know that one of the Halls drew a
my recollection that my father lent Leslie Hall some money; and the son,
William, accompanied an immigrant car with some livestock, machinery,
and equipment from Grandview to Havre, Montana, to prove up on his claim.
I think it was about two years later, he returned from there. It did not
work out. It was a financial loss to him. That was not unusual in the
case of these pioneers. As I recall, my father lent Mr. Hall some money
to finance this project. Mr. Hall and my father, and Mr. Truman, were
the best of friends. I am sure the Halls paid any money back to my father
he may have gotten from him, because Mr. Hall was that type man and I
find no record in my father's estate showing otherwise.
FUCHS: Did you say your father went with you?
FUCHS: Just you. Well, now, Harry Truman's name would have been in the
drawing, and would his father's name have been in the drawing, too?
FUCHS: All eight would have been in. What was the intent, if you remember,
say, if Harry Truman had drawn an allotment?
BABCOCK: Well, now we discussed that. Of course, we had not seen this
land. We had not driven out over it. We did get a car; we did go out,
not all of us in the same car, of course, but I think, as I recall, Dr.
Young and one of the Halls and I got in one car and drove out over some
of this area to see what it was like. As I recall now, we decided that
the land was unquestionably good soil, but we were dubious about the rainfall
and about the winters and about the crops that were adapted for this,
because much of the corn that we saw growing, not too far from this area,
was very short corn and very different from the type crop that we were
used to. And, had I drawn a claim, I'm not sure that I would have tried
to have proven up on it. And William Hall did prove out to be a failure;
I do not know whether it was altogether because of the possibilities there
or it may have been because of the lacking of judgment, stability, stick-to-itiveness
on the part of William Hall. That I will not know.
FUCHS: Five years was required?
BABCOCK: I think so, as I recall. Five years, yes; it was an Indian reservation.
I'm not sure whether it was Rosebud Indian Reservation...I'm not sure
tribe of Indians it was.
FUCHS: I believe in the preliminary conversation, you said Fort Peck.
BABCOCK: Fort Peck Indian Reservation, I believe that's right.
FUCHS: You think that was correct?
BABCOCK: I believe it was. Of course, you know, that's a long time ago.
Now, there's another thing I remember about this trip. I think it was
in the law that a former serviceman could have someone register his name
in the drawing; as I recall, Harry was registering the name of a Spanish-American
serviceman into this drawing. The name I do not know; but as I recall,
one of the men there said that this serviceman could not go for some reason,
sent his name for Harry to register, and Harry was getting half his trip
paid for, for doing this for the serviceman.
FUCHS: I see, but he was also registering his own name?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes, and registering his own name.
FUCHS: And, his father was registered?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes we were all registered.
FUCHS: You don't know if this would have been a neighbor
there or close relative?
BABCOCK : No. I do not know. He was a resident there, but I do not know.
FUCHS: Perhaps someone just asked him to do this. Do you know, if the
intent -- say if J. A. Truman's name had drawn or Harry Truman had had
his name drawn, was one or the other or both going to prove the thing
BABCOCK: That was never discussed. You know, in a drawing, it just almost
couldn't have happened to have two or three in the same family -- there
were, as I recall, some restrictions on this. Of course, that was something
that would probably have to be worked out later, as Halls worked their
case out. Now, I do not know what Harry, Vivian, and his father would
have done, or what they planned to do. I doubt that they'd known until
the drawing had taken place.
It's inconceivable to me, though, knowing Harry's disposition and his
likes and dislikes, to have gone up and proven up on a claim. While maybe
my judgment in the matter wouldn't have been good, I could hardly conceive
of that. Now his father, and Vivian, I would judge to be more the rough,
tough pioneering type,
because, as I told you, Harry liked his music, he liked his lodge work.
Frankly, I would say he was a little less rugged in his likes and dislikes.
Now, you would not compliment me to say that of me, because I'm a rough
and tough. A11 my life, a cowboy has been my greatest hero in the country.
He still has to be a man, has to think on his feet for himself, has to
fight his own battles, and that's what I like.
FUCHS: That's very interesting. Now, one more point. If, for instance,
John Anderson Truman had had his name drawn, could that be transferred
to another person?
BABCOCK: No. No, you cannot sell that. You cannot. You've got to prove
up on it.
FUCHS: What about within the family? In other words, if Harry's name
had been drawn, would he have had to prove it up?
BABCOCK: As I recall, it would have to have been kept in his name. Now,
his father or his brother, probably, could have actually lived on it and
kept it in his name and complied with the requirements such as maybe a
building or some fencing or a well dug. Now that was my understanding.
FUCHS: That's what I was wondering. If the name in which the allotment
was made, if that individual had to actually reside there or if someone
else could reside there and then the deed be issued in his name.
BABCOCK: Well, let me tell you this. Prior to our leaving Platte County
there was a land run to Oklahoma Indian territory. My father and three
other men drove from Waldron, Missouri, down to that area. I remember
it very well, they had a spring wagon. And, as I recall, one of the men
drew a claim, a man named Branum. He was a man with little or no means.
And, as I recall, he was the man who owned the thrashing machine that
thrashed our wheat in Platte County. My father lent him some money to
do some work on this claim; my father attempted to take this claim as
security for this money, or in some way obligated this claim so that there
was some discrepancy in the regulations of the filing. Someone in searching
the records found this discrepancy and jumped the claim, and they lost
this claim because of that. Now, that was the last run in Oklahoma.
FUCHS: You say he drew a claim. You mean he rushed for the claim?
BABCOCK: They rushed for the claim. That was the old drawing days, see.
I do remember that. Of course, it was quite a time ago, I was pretty young,
but I remember it. I hoped some day I could go down there. But, I don't
know what the discrepancy was, but that happened. Over the years, it has
been the practice of some men to search the records of the claims, hoping
to find a discrepancy that has been made in proving up on them so that
they can jump the claim and become the owners.
FUCHS: But, these allotments in Montana, they drew your name; then did
they draw for a specific allotment?
BABCOCK: Yes, you didn't run for them. I think you drew a claim. It was
all in sections, you know, let's say the NE, the NW, 16-36-14, and so
on, so on. I think the earlier ones you ran and you saw an area you liked
and you put your stake down and that was yours. But this was not that
FUCHS: How long did that trip take to Montana?
BABCOCK: We went by the way of Minneapolis and St. Paul. I think four
or five days. We got there in the morning and took a drive out over the
land. We then went through a line for the drawing and a train left
that evening or night for home.
I remember coming back, I had a pair of shoes on that were hurting me.
They just about killed me.
FUCHS: Do you recall any other incidents?
BABCOCK: Yes, I do. I remember an incident. At that time, Mr. Truman
was having some stomach trouble. In fact, he'd been looking rather bad
physically for a year or two, thin and, you know, like a man who had ulcers.
He had been doctoring with a Chinese doctor in Kansas City and I remember
on this trip, he showed me some medicine that this Chinese doctor was
giving him. It was not a capsule or a pill. It was more in the form of
a fruit, a cured, a dried fruit, more like a piece of dried prune; he
gave me a taste of it, a taste unlike either a prune or a fig or a date
-- evidently some dried herb or root from China or some oriental country.
FUCHS: By Chinese doctor, do you mean, an accredited medical doctor?
BABCOCK: He was a Chinese. I never saw the man, but he was a Chinaman.
Now as far as having a state license to practice as a physician, I do
but Mr. Truman simply referred to him as a Chinese doctor. Now, evidently,
Mr. Truman had been having some trouble for some time, because he had
tried other doctors and had become dissatisfied with the treatment or
the results he was getting. He was probably just trying anyone that he
had heard of that had cured other people, maybe in cases that he thought
were similar to his. I think that was more common than it would be now.
FUCHS: It was on this trip, that he did let you try this oriental herb
BABCOCK: Yes, that's right. I think another incident that I remember
so well -- that on this trip, we stopped at a news stand, in Minneapolis,
and Mr. Truman got a small basket of the largest, finest peaches I've
ever seen in my life, the most edible. Mr. Truman was a good farmer, liked
to grow things, see them grow; he kept some of the seeds from these peaches
and told me that he was going to plant them on their place. I know he
must have done this, but I didn't get to talk to him about whether or
not they sprouted, because he lived not too long after this, as I remember.
FUCHS: Do you recall who initiated this idea of going up there?
BABCOCK: Actually, I'm not certain on this, but I think Harry did. I
did not read about this, and my thinking now is that Harry was the first
one to try and organize us, you know, to get together to go make this
FUCHS: The Halls were who?
BABCOCK: The Halls owned a thrashing machine for years that did the thrashing
for both Truman's and our crops. They were neighbors there and lived in
Grandview. They owned these thrashing machines and engines which did custom
thrashing and other power work for the Trumans and us and other neighbors.
FUCHS: What would have been the principal farm implements that the average
farmer, such as your father, or Mr. Truman would have had?
BABCOCK: Well, we owned our own binders, plows, harrows, discs, corn
planters, drills, and other small implements. In fact, we owned all our,
own gear except the threshing rig. After we bound the wheat, we went along
and put it into shocks and let it dry out for some ten days or two weeks;
there, we pitched it onto these bundle wagons.
Let me digress a little bit here. During the first war and following
it, we had an organization of Communists in this country and that's the
first I knew; we knew them as IWW's, Industrial Workers of the World;
their slang name was "I Won't Work." Now, when we needed extra work in
this harvesting and thrashing, my father would go to Kansas City to an
employment agency and get extra help to come and pitch these bundles and
do this work. There was one great big bully, red-headed, insulting man
that we knew from his talk was one of these IWW's. He started his bullying
and troublemaking. We had a fellow by the name of Charley Washer pitching
bundles; that's the work this big red-headed IWW man was doing. He started
to bully Charley Washer. Charley had been the captain of the Missouri
University football team not too many years prior to this and was a huge
powerful man, not a troublemaker, but a trouble settler. Well, he tore
into this big red-headed guy, and the red-headed guy tucked tail and ran
and we never saw anymore of the IWW. I remember that so well. So that
was my first knowledge of such a group of people known as Communists.
FUCHS: They were referred to as Communists?
BABCOCK: Not then, they were known as the Industrial Workers of the World,
but they were a part of the communistic movement, you see. Communism started
many, many years ago; but not as Communists in this country. It was on
Truman's farm where this happened, where this big red-headed guy was in
FUCHS: We were discussing the type of implements that might have been
owned on your farm and on Mr. Truman's farm; evidently, a tractor was
something you always hired?
BABCOCK: The steam or oil powered tractor simply provided the power for
the thrashing machine. You understand, a thrashing machine represented
a pretty big investment, and it was something you used only a few days
in the year. Well, each farmer couldn't afford to own a thrashing machine,
so it was owned by a party who made that a business. It was customary
for each farmer to own his own binder, a machine that cut and bound his
wheat, and for us to put it into the shock, and then pay so much per bushel
to have it run through the thrasher. The owner of the thrasher employed
and paid the man who operated the engine, and the man who operated the
thrashing machine. All the other help was
supplied by the land owner for whom he was thrashing wheat. That's where
the Halls came in. They owned the thrashing machine, you see.
FUCHS: There is a Hall, who comes into the picture as having been a lady
who ran the post office when Mr. Truman was postmaster, and he was supposed
to have given her the salary.
BABCOCK: Ella Hall was her name.
FUCHS: Was she related?
BABCOCK: To the Trumans?
FUCHS: To these Halls you're speaking of.
BABCOCK: Oh, yes, she was their daughter. Ella was a sister to Cecil
and young Bill and Stanley. Stanley was another brother.
FUCHS: Was Cecil in the post office also?
BABCOCK: Yes, I think he was at one time. And Cecil actually helped,
you see, too, as a boy, on the machine owned by his parents, and young
FUCHS: So, Mr. Truman's acquaintance with these people, who lived in
Grandview came about, probably, through this.
FUCHS: Do you recall Harriet Young, Mr. Truman's grandmother?
BABCOCK: No, I just know the name, his grandmother.
FUCHS: Well, as I remember (I think I'm correct), she didn't die until
1909. She lived with...
BABCOCK: Yes, I believe that's right.
FUCHS: You don't have any vivid recollections?
BABCOCK: Not vivid. But I do know...she did live with them, didn't she?
You know, I believe she did.
BABCOCK: I remember her sitting in one of the rooms across the hall from
where we'd go into the front. I think I do, yes. I do. I hadn't thought
FUCHS: Well, of course, when she died -- the farm was really in her name,
because her husband, Solomon, had died some years before, and you may
recall, she left the farm to her daughter and to Harrison Young and there
were a certain number of contests of this. Do you recollect any?
BABCOCK: No, I'm not familiar about that. I'm really not familiar about
the division of the land. As far as my knowledge, Mrs. Truman got the
entire tract there that I'm familiar with, which was around 700 acres.
I thought after Harrison Young's death (I had the understanding, I don't
know how I got it, that that was
inherited 50-50 by Harrison and Mrs. Truman, brother and sister), that
she got it all. Now, that's merely hearsay. I wouldn't know how authentic
that is, I don't know; but Vivian and they all spoke of it as Uncle Harrison's
and Mother's -- not Mother -- what did he call his mother?
BABCOCK: Mama -- that's it. I remember it was very unusual for grown
people to say "Mama." You know it is. Now, I called my mother, "Mother,"
and a lot of them said "Mom," or something like that, but for a grown...kinds
say "Mama," but they drop it.
FUCHS: We always used "Mom" in our...
BABCOCK: Yes, sure. Now that's one thing that I remember I'd forgotten.
You just prompted me on that. I know Vivian said "Mama" all the time.
As I recall and Mary Jane, as I remember, referred to her mother as "Mama."
I know Vivian did.
FUCHS: Well, of course, I am sure you know that Harry did.
BABCOCK: Oh, yes, sure.
FUCHS: Because he's written these, what they call "Dear Mama" letters.
BABCOCK: Sure, all the time Mama, Mama, Mama, and she'd say…she used
to have certain little sayings...she used to say "fiddlesticks" and stuff
like that, you know, because I know by some of his business ventures that
he would need to be reminded to be on his guard, to be a good boy.
FUCHS: One reason, I asked about anything you might remember of his grandmother
was I wondered if this same trait had been noticed by you that was evident
in Martha Truman, his mother?
BABCOCK: Yes, that's right. Now, I'll tell you. Now, that you mention
that, I can remember now of having seen her, but she was senile. I never
heard the woman speak. I never heard her say one word to any of them.
Now, I wasn't in her presence or near there any length of time. She just
sat there, motionless, in her chair; you knew she was there when you saw
her, that's all. I had forgotten that.
FUCHS: Well, apart from your visiting during thrashing times, you did
go to the farm to get Vivian to go out. Were you around the farm anytime
other than that?
BABCOCK: Oh, I had been on the farm other than that, but only on rare
occasions. Yes, only on rare occasions.
FUCHS: Do you recall John Anderson Truman being hurt in 1914 in connection
with his activities as a road overseer?
BABCOCK: I knew him well as a road overseer, because at that very time,
in a district where I lived, I had a road drag furnished me by the county.
When the road needed dragging, I did it and was paid a small sum for this.
FUCHS: You didn't have the title of a road overseer?
BABCOCK: No, no, I did not. I was working under another road overseer.
Yes, that's right, but not to Truman.
FUCHS: Oh, you weren't under John Anderson...
BABCOCK: No, it was under another road overseer. That's right. And, I
do not recall Mr. Truman having had any accident.
FUCHS: A road overseer would have a district and in a township there
might be more than one district?
BABCOCK: I think that perhaps there were more than one because it was
done by horses mainly and you couldn't go that distance, you see, to cover
FUCHS: Was it customary for a farmer to take this position or was it
customary for someone who lived in town and needed a job to take it?
BABCOCK: As far as being customary, I would not say that
there was any fixed custom in this thing. It was not a full-time business,
FUCHS: It was a paid job?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes. It was considered a political job. Yes. They earned
all they got, if they did a good job, and Mr. Truman did a good job. But
that, as far as I know, was Harry's first venture into a political job.
I'm satisfied it was, and his father ahead of him.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything of Mr. Truman's activities in connection
with the road overseer job which he succeeded to after his father died?
BABCOCK: You mean Harry's?
FUCHS: Yes, any incidents?
BABCOCK: Well, I do not remember any incidents. I do know that Mr. J.
A. Truman and my father often sort of joked about politics. They were
the best of friends and while nationally and locally, too, Mr. Truman
was a Democrat, I know Mr. Truman used to sort of electioneer for certain
county officials, like judges. My father always supported Democrats in
local county jobs, because it was almost impossible to get a capable man
to run on a Republican ticket since there was so little chance of being
elected. So, they worked together a lot in
harmony in the state and county. When Harry first ran for eastern judge
in Jackson County, I voted for him.
FUCHS: That was in 1922?
BABCOCK: Was it? I've forgotten. There were factions in the Democratic
Party in the Kansas City area at that time. Harry was supported by the
Pendergast machine, and I felt it was not promoting the best candidates.
That was when I fell out with him and I never again voted for Harry Truman
for anything. I voted locally for Democrats in the state and in the county;
I supported Governor Stark and Milligan, who were in another faction.
It was like two parties. The faction Harry was with and that faction were
actually further apart than the Democrats and the Republicans.
FUCHS: Did you consider yourself a member of one of the factions?
BABCOCK: No, sir. No, I never was, and, I got the appointment of postmaster
under a Republican, you understand, because nationally we were Republicans.
FUCHS: You followed the same political leanings as your father did?
FUCHS: But you didn't feel that it was wise to vote Republican locally?
BABCOCK: No, for the reason I told you. So seldom a capable man ran on
the Republican ticket in our area because there was so little chance of
being elected, he couldn't afford to give too much time to that.
FUCHS: Did you vote straight Democratic locally then?
BABCOCK: Oh, no, I market my ticket. There were cases, yes. Now I will
tell you something. Even today, in Butler, Missouri -- now I vote here
of course -- but in Butler, Missouri, where I voted just a few years ago,
why, naturally, I would support some of our local Democrats because they
were the best men in many cases. But everything else being equal, I am
a Republican here, there, and yonder, and I am now a stronger Republican
than I ever was because I think the Democrat party could just about be
called a socialist labor party. And, I want that to go in here.
FUCHS: It's in. You don't recall anything about Mr. John Truman's health
and confinement just prior to his death that might be of interest to us?
BABCOCK: Mr. Truman was an outdoor man, hearty; and
prior to this probably cancerous condition, he was a very hearty man,
not a big, strong man, but just about a 150-pound man, and muscular...yes,
outdoor man and, I thought, of good health prior to this.
FUCHS: Do you remember whether Harry had his leg broken?
BABCOCK: Yes, I knew of it. I knew of it, but I didn't know the details.
I do recall, but I couldn't tell you the year or the details.
FUCHS: Do you remember Mr. John Truman having a leg broken?
BABCOCK: There again, I knew it happened, but I do not know whether it
was on the road work, on the farm, or whether a horse kicked him, I do
FUCHS: Did you ever hear of a lady coming there in buggy and having the
buggy overturn and her being hurt?
BABCOCK: No. I did not.
FUCHS: Did you ever hear a rumor that the Young farm was jinxed because
of this series, of leg-breakings, so to speak?
FUCHS: Did you ever hear it said that Harry Truman was so good at castrating
pigs that when he sharpened his knife, the pigs ran out to pasture?
BABCOCK: Nothing could surprise me more than that. I knew his father
was good, I knew that Vivian was good, but actually I never knew that
Harry ever castrated a pig; and I'll tell you, this I know, Harry did
not have the reputation of being a strong man. This I know, because I
worked with him. As Vivian often said, "If we have to move a heavy implement,
like a rack, on which you haul bundles off the gear, I would go to one
end of the rack and my father and Harry to the other," because Vivian
was strong, very strong for his size. I told you some ill feeling (I've
referred to it), between Harry and Vivian existed because of money matters.
When Harry got ready to go to the First World War -- well, I saw Vivian
every few days then -- Vivian said, "I don't know how in the world he
ever got it. Take his glasses off, he wouldn't know me across the fence."
You see, his eyesight was that bad. I remember that remark so well.
FUCHS: Well, did Vivian ever remark about Mr. Truman's activities in
the National Guard, Missouri National Guard?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes.
FUCHS: What did he think of Harry participating in that?
BABCOCK: This was just one of the activities that kept Harry away from
the farm, and it was his being away from the farm work that Vivian objected
to. Actually Vivian and Harry just never got along too well. I
mean there was just that feeling well, they had different likes and dislikes.
FUCHS: You don't recall any specific developments?
BABCOCK: No, I wouldn't say so.
FUCHS: What about Harry's ability to stick a calf or cow for bloat?
BABCOCK: I never heard. I would say that Mr. Truman and Vivian, either
one, would qualify as fair to good farm veterinarians. And, that's the
kind we used to know. Harry would be the last one that I would think of
to be good at that, because I've never seen him do any of it. I've never
seen him do any of it. I've never seen him talk about it. I've never seen
him show any interest in it.
FUCHS: Did the average farmer stick a cow for bloat?
BABCOCK: Oh, I've done it myself, using a trocar.
A trocar is an instrument that you use to stick a cow for bloat. Now,
I learned from my father and my grandfather to make my own trocar as follows:
I would run the small blade of my pocket knife through the pith of a section
of a corncob, allowing about three-quarters of an inch of the blade to
protrude from the cob. This I would use to pierce the bloated animal.
The area to be pierced was determined by measuring from the hip bone to
the rib structure. I have lost a number of cattle from bloat, but I don't
recall having lost any that I found in time to use a trocar on. Both my
grandfathers were farmers, who lived in Platte County, where I lived as
a boy. My grandfather Babcock and my grandfather Naylor were both the
veterinarians in their respective communities.
I sometimes went with them to treat the animals or was at their homes
when animals were brought to them for treatment. The one treatment that
I best remember was the bleeding of a horse; this was usually done in
the spring. It seems that in winter the horse became rundown, the hair
appeared dead, and the skin rough. It was thought that the horse needed
a good portion of old blood let out of the veins so that it could replace
this with new blood. To do this, they had a surgical instrument about
the size of a large pocket knife. This instrument had 4 different sized
lances which folded into it. They had a choice of using the lance, depending
on the depth the incision should be. The vein in the neck was cut, and
from this the blood would spurt out as much as two feet in some instances
and was allowed to drain until the horse began to quiver and seemed about
ready to fall. And then my grandfather would use his index finger and
thumb to close this gash until the blood coagulated. Actually the blood-letting
treatment was given to people.
FUCHS: You wouldn't give much credit to the story then that he was an
expert at sticking a cow for bloat?
BABCOCK: No. To Mr. Truman and Vivian I would give the credit for being
able to and doing this work. Harry's father had been a dealer and trader
in livestock and had handled quite a number. Vivian was interested and
had considerable ability in this. I think Harry was given undue credit
for a lot of these things. I think I have just reason for making that
remark. I think somebody was actually trying to build up something
for Harry which really belonged to his father and his brother.
FUCHS: What did he usually do on the farm, for instance on the thrashing
crew? What were his specific jobs?
BABCOCK: I believe I told you the last day I worked with him, he was
on a bundle wagon, but that wasn't ordinarily his work. In fact, he had
no set place to work, I mean, he may be doing that job one day and maybe
something else on another day. He was not known as a bundle wagon man.
Or, he might drive a grain wagon, you see. Frankly, he didn't stay on
the job very steadily. I'll tell you that.
FUCHS: Even when they were thrashing?
BABCOCK: No. He was doing different things. For instance, he might be
arranging to have railroad cars available to be filled with grain -- a
necessary item. I believe I told you, he might be considered more of a
utility man to fill different places. I'm not trying to belittle the man.
In fact that's somewhat of a compliment, you know, to be able to fill
in in different things.
FUCHS: Did he have any particular means he sometimes
employed to get cars when they were scarce?
BABCOCK: Yes, I think he knew that most of those railroad men like a
quart of good whiskey at a time when whiskey was so hard to get and hard
to come by; and he could use that pretty readily and did.
FUCHS: He was resourceful.
BABCOCK: Yes. I believe I told you that when he was at their home place,
that he invariably helped in the house at noon and some days throughout
the day. It was a pretty big chore to make and serve these big dinners.
And, he did help a lot in his own home. And, I believe I did tell you
that it was his habit, if we had some extra time around noon, not to be
out with the men, joking and talking, but to go and play the piano. Something
like this was more appealing to him.
FUCHS: What do you think of the statement attributed to his mother that
Harry plowed the straightest furrow?
BABCOCK: The Trumans were just one of a group of the better farm families
of the community and yes, his work was neat. His father was a very neat
farmer; and I do know, had he been working on the farm when his father
was there, his father would have seen to it that he would have plowed
a straight row, if a straight
row was the best kind to have, because his father was a good farmer.
He inherited that trait from his father, perhaps. He didn't necessarily
develop on his own because he had a good example ahead of him.
FUCHS: Did you ever observe him plowing in the field?
BABCOCK: I have, yes sir, and they did have their crops in straight rows.
They were good farmers.
FUCHS: How long was Vivian on the farm there, after you knew them?
BABCOCK: I'd say Vivian was on the farm after I knew them maybe five
or six years.
FUCHS: Did he work a different farm after he got married?
BABCOCK: I distinctly remember at least 3 different farms he farmed after
he got married.
FUCHS: The point I was making, you went there in 1904 and then Mr. Truman
went back to the farm in 1906 and I was wondering when the major farm
load would have devolved on Harry and John Anderson after Vivian left?
BABCOCK: Since Mr. John Truman died in 1914, I think it would have been
only about two years.
FUCHS: It's hard to remember the exact time. Well then, Vivian would
come back at thrashing time?
BABCOCK: Yes, he did, actually. It was very little time
that the real farm load was carried by Harry, because Harry was away
a lot. I'm quite sure of that.
FUCHS: He was on the farm there from '06 until '17 when he went to the
Army, which was ten or eleven years.
BABCOCK: Yes, I know it, but, I'll tell you, Vivian was always available
to his mother on that farm. While I always thought Harry was his mother's
pet, I think, without a doubt, that at all times, they were counting on
Vivian more than Harry as a farmer.
FUCHS: Even after he left the home place?
BABCOCK: Yes, that's right.
FUCHS: One writer has pointed out that Mr. Truman became sort of a pioneer
in scientific farming. I'm speaking of Harry Truman, and he increased
productivity there by things that we know of as crop rotation, soil conservation,
weed control and the neighbors scoffed at his attempts to keep records
of actual cost per acre on his various crops and so forth. Would you have
any comment on this?
BABCOCK: Farming practices were changing a lot during this period, and
the better farmers were all more-or-less following the same practices.
And since Harry was more
of an inside man than most farmers, I would guess that he would be more
interested in keeping a set of books that would show the exact results
than most farmers would. But this fact would in no way make any difference
in the actual profit and loss. I have no reason to believe that Harry
Truman's method of farming was one whit better than the methods that his
father or Vivian used. Harry Truman's first interest was not farming.
I had sources of information that went to prove he was not a profitable
FUCHS: Do you think that he introduced labor-saving equipment which other
farmers were not doing at that time?
BABCOCK: The Young farm, which they were farming, was one of the few
of the larger farms -- about 700 acres. Naturally the smaller 80 and 160
acre farms could not support larger, labor-saving equipment; but of the
large farms in the community by 1906, all that I knew had larger and more
modern equipment. In fact, we had these in 1904. Actually my father worked
with the John Deere Plow Company test proving some of their modern machinery.
FUCHS: Would you say that this is a fair statement, that
others in the community sort of looked askance at or questioned Harry
Truman's use of labor-saving equipment instead of employing more farm
BABCOCK: Many people made comments on this then, but perhaps not so much
as they are today, I think this will always be so.
FUCHS: What I was getting at, this one writer has indicated that some
of the old people, presumably the old people, who were more set in their
ways, were concerned that he would employ labor-saving equipment instead
of employing more farm hands. In other words, providing more work. Do
you ever recall hearing anything to that, sir?
BABCOCK: No, sir, not directed to Harry Truman or anyone else in particular.
It is, and has been, a short-sighted viewpoint. As you well know, because
of union labor's strength, this has led to featherbedding.
FUCHS: I was just wondering if you had heard anyone criticize him on
that score and say, well, Harry should be hiring more people, instead
of using those gang plows. You never...
BABCOCK: No, sir, I did not. But, I'll tell you what he did do. This
I know. When he was running for office, he was advocating combining two
or three or four
counties throughout the state and having one county seat cover each area
because of the use of the automobile to replace the old horse and buggy.
FUCHS: He advocated reducing the number of counties in the state.
BABCOCK: I was for it. But when he became the county judge, as I recall,
he advocated having two county seats in Jackson County, where he was serving.
This was the comment you often heard; but really this was practical to
have two county seats, one in Kansas City and one in Independence.
FUCHS: There's an article which states that he helped to organize the
Jackson County Farm Bureau in 1913. Do you know of that?
BABCOCK: I think that's true. I was approached by a Mr. William Palmer
to become a member when it was organized -- Mr. Palmer and others who
were helping in this organizational work. And I did take out a membership.
FUCHS: Does the name Brownie Huber mean anything to you?
BABCOCK: Yes sir. Brownie, they called him. He worked for the Trumans
on the farm. I remember him well. He helped with the thrashing.
FUCHS: Was he a neighbor down there? Did he have a farm?
BABCOCK: Oh, I don't think he farmed on his own. I think he simply worked
there as a hired man, as I remember.
FUCHS: Do you recall any incidents involving him?
BABCOCK: I know he used to drive a team for them. I know he was very...well,
he was a working Democrat. He wasn't particularly skilled in any way and
not a very deep thinker. I would classify him as this: Just Hank, the
hired man, you know.
FUCHS: Did he live at the farm?
BABCOCK: I think he lived either off the farm or in a tenant house on
FUCHS: How old a man was he?
BABCOCK: Well, as I recall, he was younger than Harry; yes, I think he
was even younger than Vivian. Kind of a slender fellow. I have a mental
picture of him.
FUCHS: Do you recall about how many years he was there?
BABCOCK: Oh, I think he helped them quite a while. I wouldn't know for
how many years. I don't think he was on steady all the time for over that
long a period, but when they needed him, I think he was there over quite
a period of time. Yes, he worked there and I remember him very well.
FUCHS: He worked at times other than thrashing time?
BABCOCK: Oh, I think so.
FUCHS: Would he have been the only one that would normally have given
them farm aid there, except at thrashing time?
BABCOCK: I expect he would have been, other than thrashing time, not
maybe just the only one, but I think they would depend on him more and
over a greater length of time than any other one that I know of.
FUCHS: Were there a great number of hired hands -- that's aside from
the neighbors who came in to help; I assume they came in on a mutual exchange
BABCOCK: That's right. Not a great number, no.
FUCHS: There would be some hired hands at thrashing time?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes. But you mean as other than thrashers?
FUCHS: No. I'm speaking now of thrashing time.
BABCOCK: Well, as I told you, we did have extra men. My father, as I
believe I told you, would go up to the employment agency and get some
extra help for us and maybe a couple of extra men. We had one old Negro
we kept all the time and two white men we kept all the time, regularly.
FUCHS: But it was usual for the other neighbors to come and
help each other thrash?
FUCHS: And, then there'd be a certain number of hired hands?
BABCOCK: Yes. We had some. It depended on the size farm you operated,
you see. If you had four times as much grain or acres to harvest, you'd
expect to have four times as much help or pay the difference in money.
FUCHS: Would you class him as a successful farmer?
BABCOCK: Now that would depend on your definition of success. Some people
would say you'd look only at the bank account to determine whether or
not the man is a successful farmer. Another man might look at the farm,
the condition it was in one year, and then five years later. If he'd improved
its condition, its fertility, built fences, filled hollows, he'd put his
success in that. So, I think you have to consider everything. And, if
I had to consider everything, I would hesitate. I think Harry probably
was not financially a successful farmer. I think he would take good care
of the farm, maybe. And, I think he would take good care of his teams
and his stock, yes.
But I doubt that he'd make much money.
FUCHS: You think that had something to do with his father becoming a
road overseer and his subsequent taking over that position?
BABCOCK: I think perhaps it did. But in addition to that, this overseer
job was a political one and it was one way to keep active in politics.
And this certainly carried a lot of weight with the Trumans.
FUCHS: It could have been a matter of utilizing spare time and also an
interest in supplemental funds.
BABCOCK: Yes. They did not neglect the farm work to take care of the
FUCHS: Do you recall Mr. Truman's father serving as an election judge
in the Grandview precinct?
BABCOCK: No. I don't. Because we voted down in the Hickman Mills precinct.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything in connection with Harry, as far as serving
as a clerk in the election?
BABCOCK: No, but since they were interested in politics, I expect you'll
find them wherever there's anything political.
FUCHS: When did you leave the farm?
BABCOCK: In 1926. I kept on farming after I was in
other things. I think it was in '21 or '22, I bought this business in
Hickman Mills but I continued to live on the farm.
FUCHS: That was your first other interest than the farm?
BABCOCK: No. I was interested in this bank in Kansas City before I bought
FUCHS: Oh, is that right?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes. I told you I was dabbling in different things.
FUCHS: What bank was that?
BABCOCK: Well, it's now the University Bank, 63rd and Brookside. I recommended
and helped employ the present president of that bank, his name being Logan
Wyrick. He was formerly with the Park National Bank at 47th and Troost,
where I had banked.
FUCHS: Was he acquainted with Harry Truman?
BABCOCK: I never saw them together. I wouldn't say whether they were
FUCHS: When did you become associated with the Lodge in Grandview, the
Masonic Lodge in Grandview?
BABCOCK: Offhand, I'd say about '23.
FUCHS: Who brought you in?
BABCOCK: Who what?
FUCHS: Who influenced you in joining the Masonic Lodge? Did somebody
ask you to join?
BABCOCK: No, you don't do that in Masonry.
FUCHS: You don't?
BABCOCK: No, you petition for membership. I'll tell you who influenced
me to join, my mother. Her people were all Masons. Anyone of any importance
belonged to a Mason Lodge out in those areas in the early times. Well,
to her, if you weren't a Mason, you weren't much. I'm not a lodge man;
I do not attend. I do keep up my dues. I went in it mostly to satisfy
my mother. A man by the name of Palmer, who was a rural carrier, a wonderful
man and a farmer, outside of my mother, was the next influence. He gave
me my work, coached me. You know you have to memorize the work. I think
it was the third that Harry gave me, as I recall.
FUCHS: What do you mean, gave you a degree. Do you mean he did the coaching
for that degree or he examined you?
BABCOCK: Yes, examined me.
FUCHS: What year was that?
BABCOCK: I was trying to think. Well, I believe it was '23.
FUCHS: Does anything stand out in your memory about that?
BABCOCK: Yes, I attended lodge then a number of times; and Harry would
come in (I think he wasn't there all the time), and he did a good job
in the lodge work. Excellent. He was an excellent director. If things
weren't going right along smoothly, Harry would come in and get them to
going. He was a good lodge man.
FUCHS: You'd say he's a pretty good organizer?
BABCOCK: Yes, yes, I think he's a pretty good organizer. He could do
better at organizing and handling people like that than Vivian could,
even though I liked Vivian much better and his father better than all
the rest of them.
FUCHS: Do you know of a man named Jerry Culbertson?
BABCOCK: I cannot recall a Jerry Culbertson.
FUCHS: Mr. Truman was associated with him in an early venture in a lead
or zinc mine.
BABCOCK: Oh. I remember that venture. You don't know what year that was?
FUCHS: Well, that was probably about '15 or '16, I've never had that
pinned down as to exactly what year that was.
BABCOCK: By golly, I had a venture in lead and zinc, and the man I was
with was Haley. And, I'll tell you,
the name Campbell; you know I told you that Vivian married a Campbell,
daughter of Curt Campbell. Curt Campbell and Bill Campbell -- do those
names mean anything to you?
BABCOCK: They had large farms, nice big farms right north of Hickman
Mills, right north of where we lived. Someone came in and paid them a
high price, a lot of money to them in that day coming in cash. What did
they do? Like everyone else who gets a large amount of money when he's
not familiar with having all that cash on hand, he is duped by somebody
who finds out about it; and there's always somebody out to get it. A contractor
was building a road there and got them interested in buying stock in a
lead and zinc mine out of Joplin. And they got my father interested. The
two Campbells and this contractor (Davidson, I believe), bought an interest
in this mine. Gee, they were getting a check for several hundred dollars
a week. So the Campbells wanted my father and me to go to Joplin and inspect
this mine, and they'd sell us an interest in it. We went. We went down
in the mine; there was about a twenty-six foot vein of lead and zinc with
not too much overburden, you see. Oh, it
was rich, gee whiz, I mean, they were getting just massive amounts of
money out of that thing for the day.
At that time I had $2,625 in cash in the bank. My father, I think, put
in $5,000, and I put in $2,500. We hadn't been working that vein but for
a few days till the sheriff came up there and stopped the thing. I wasn't
there; I was up on the farm. All right, you know what happened? This Haley,
that owned this, the biggest crook in the world, had mined this mine out.
They were actually, at the time they sold us and the Campbells, mining
on another property. Well, the owner of the other property, suspicious
or something, found it out and got an attachment, see, and the sheriff
stopped the working of the mine. We lost all the money we put in it.
FUCHS: You mean they'd just left this one seam there to show people?
BABCOCK: No, they were actually working it, but they were working off
of their property onto the other property underground. You see, they had
an overburden of say 30 or 40 feet. That's what they did to us. That's
another experience of life I had. There were
all kinds of things going on back there.
FUCHS: In other words, you bought into a mine that was mined out?
BABCOCK: That's right. Just a rube deal, that's what it was; getting
into something you didn't know anything about.
FUCHS: Did the name David Morgan come into your ken?
BABCOCK: No, sir, I don't remember Dave Morgan.
FUCHS: Do you know anything of the oil venture that Mr. Truman was involved
BABCOCK: Nothing other than what my father mentioned just offhand and
what Vivian had mentioned about him losing that money. It was pretty generally
known in the community, though, that he did get in...I think that was
a sizeable amount of money.
FUCHS: You never were in the offices of that company in Kansas City?
BABCOCK: No, I was not.
FUCHS: Did you ever discuss politics with Harry when you were on the
BABCOCK: No, sir. Not with Harry.
FUCHS: Did you ever see Bess Wallace on the farm, down on the farm? Did
she visit there, do you know?
BABCOCK: I never saw her on the farm. No. I never did. But, I can tell
you what I have seen and know of her family, I think she's a wonderful
person. I think she handled herself well when she was in the White House.
She stayed, I think, where a lady would stay. She never pushed herself.
You know that. That's a matter of record. I think she was a good influence
My sister and Harry's sister were together a lot for years and still
are. They were in the same crowd. They'd go to Eastern Star together.
FUCHS: This is your youngest sister?
BABCOCK: My youngest sister, Mrs. Roy Moore. Yes, she lives in Hickman
Mills. And it was through Harry Truman that my brother-in-law was appointed
postmaster at Hickman Mills. He had served under me as assistant postmaster
prior to the time of his appointment.
FUCHS: Was this when Mr. Truman was President?
BABCOCK: He was Senator; but anyway, he got his appointment through Harry.
And, Roy Moore, my brother-in-law, was always very strong for Harry.
FUCHS: Your sister, what was her first name?
FUCHS: And she was a good friend of Mary Jane?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes, the best. They are today. They go together a lot now,
FUCHS: Eastern Star is an auxiliary of Masonic and she would have gotten
into that through her brother, then?
BABCOCK: Yes, Mary Jane would through Harry or Vivian either.
FUCHS: Vivian's a Mason too?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes. He too had served as worshipful master at Lodge No.
618 at Grandview, Missouri.
FUCHS: John A. Truman was?
BABCOCK: I don't think so. If he was, I didn't know it.
FUCHS: Do you remember when Mr. Truman was about to open the haberdashery?
This would have been after the war. Now what contacts did you have with
Mr. Truman after the war?
BABCOCK: That was after the war. He opened that with a fellow named Jacobson,
a Jewish gentleman. The wife of one of our next door neighbors in Kansas
City was a sister to Mr. Jacobson. My father lent Harry some of the money
with which to buy into this haberdashery. He also lent Harry money at
different times for various
FUCHS: Did you ever go into the store?
BABCOCK: Yes, I have been into the store with a mutual friend of Harry
and me. They had a nice looking store there, a good location, but as you
know, it didn't work out. It just plain failed, that's all. They just
didn't make it.
FUCHS: They've always attributed that to the Harding administration and
that period of depression.
BABCOCK: Well, that's sort of like luck. If you get along, you take credit
for it. If you fail, you say it's bad luck; you don't take the blame for
it. It's just a condition. So. I think that would apply here. All people
didn't go broke then, and a lot of people made money. It's just as I told
you, a good operator usually makes some money all the time and quite a
bit in good times.
FUCHS: Do you remember talking about his failure there, at the time?
BABCOCK: Oh, general conversation is all I know. A rather typical remark
was, "There goes Harry again." I wasn’t too much surprised or disappointed
because I had no reason to believe that he was any whiz in finances.
That's about all I've got to say about it.
FUCHS: You didn't think that he was a great man for business?
BABCOCK: I had no reason to believe he was.
FUCHS: Did you have any reason to believe he wasn't?
BABCOCK: Well, as I told you, they were farming at a time when they could
have made some money, and they may have made more than I thought they
made. But I have reason to believe that he personally wasn't doing much.
Because I told you my father was financing him some. And, I remember an
article that he had written and he was always saying; "Well, the bankers,
you always had to pay." Well, if you're making money, you don't take that
attitude. You know, "That the bankers you have to pay." Most people in
business have to borrow money, it doesn't worry them. They don't even
mention it. But, if you say, well, they always have to be paid, it usually
means you're under strain, see. So. I have quite a few reasons to think
he wasn't making money and none to make me think he was. When he was a
Senator, he invariably said he was the poorest Senator in Washington.
FUCHS: Do you recall his working for the Auto Club of Kansas
BABCOCK: Yes, but I do not remember the date.
FUCHS: Well, that was 1925 and '26.
BABCOCK: I remember calling him in 1926 regarding a note that Mr. J.
A. Truman had endorsed for my father and which my father had said that
after Mr. Truman's death Harry would take care of out of the estate. But
since I heard no more from him, I went to see him in 1927 about this note;
he was then with the Community Savings and Loan Association. I had learned
his telephone number, but I did not know the company or the location of
the place I called.
FUCHS: He never tried to sell you a membership. This is what he was supposed
to have been doing.
FUCHS: What do you know of his venture in the Community Savings and Loan
BABCOCK: I recently have found a letter from him under date of January
18, 1927. The stationery shows him to be general manager of this Association
and Spencer Salisbury as treasurer. I stated that I had called him sometime
in '26 regarding a certain note, and this written reply I received very
shortly after I had called
on him at his office. The note I referred to was one given my father
dated May 11, 1914, payable in two months, in the amount of $200, signed
by A. D. Brauner and J. A. Truman. My father had explained to me that
A. D. Brauner had actually received the money; J. A. Truman had endorsed
the note together with Brauner since my father didn't know Mr. Brauner
very well and Mr. Truman did and was willing to guarantee payment. Brauner
did not pay the loan, and Mr. Truman died in 1914, leaving the note unpaid.
Harry Truman was handling his father's estate; my father told him that
he would buy something at his farm sale and take the amount of the note
out of the estate. Harry told him that was not necessary, that he would
take care of it. My father was not a man who would press collections and
especially when he was dealing with friends. My father died in 1925, and
this note was still unpaid. I finally called on Harry and presented this
note on or about the middle of January, 1927. He was friendly and we discussed
the note. He said he would see Mary, his sister and Vivian, his brother,
and this would be taken care of. Within a very few days I received a letter
from Harry, reading as follows:
I have yours of the 14 instant, and I see no reason why I should
assume any responsibility in the situation. Frankly, I don't intend
to. This was a transaction between your father, my father, and old
man Brauner. You might just as well get the idea out of your head
as far as I am concerned, because I do not intend to do anything in
Yours very truly, Harry S. Truman
FUCHS: I believe when he was in the oil venture, it seemed to me they
were in the Board of Trade Building; but I'm not certain whether the Community
Savings and Loan was. Later on he did have an office in Independence,
too. He became presiding judge and gradually worked out of it.
BABCOCK: The letter I received from him will straighten out a little
of this, pertaining to the location. How did he get out of this Association,
FUCHS: Well, that's something that we don't actually know.
BABCOCK: All right, forget it. I don't know, but I think it was there
when I saw him last.
FUCHS: Does the name Spencer Salisbury mean anything to you?
BABCOCK: Yes, I know the name. I do not remember the
man personally, but I do remember the name. I sure do.
FUCHS: What about the Citizens Bank of Englewood? Do you recall anything
BABCOCK: I do have some faint recollections that the name Greenlee was
involved. Seems it was some county politics financing.
FUCHS: When Mr. Truman came back from the war, I believe at that time
you were president of the alumni association of Ruskin High School.
BABCOCK: Yes, that's right. I was president then. I remember very well,
when he, together with some four to six of our neighbor boys who had served
with him, returned to Kansas City, I saw to it that we had a program.
We got Harry as part of our program to make a talk on his experiences
in war from which he had just returned.
I introduced Harry as the speaker and I remember a few things that I
said in the introduction. One of them was that I thought that it would
be well for us to keep in mind that Harry had gone through his part of
the war without losing a man in action, indicating that he would be a
safe man to be with and under; and,
I thought maybe if a storm should be approaching, we should get in his
company for safety's sake. I remember that very well. And, Harry made
a good talk, not too long; Harry wasn't given to long talks. When he was
speaking, he was curt and brief. He was not trying to build up any heroism
in his talk on their part in the war. He said much of it was not too different
from being at home -- not that there was no danger, but they tried to
live as calmly as possible and keep good order. Well, we were glad we
had him as a speaker because he had with him some of the fine boys from
our county, too, and they all liked his leadership during the war. I know
they couldn't have played a big part in the war, because they did not
lose a man, but no doubt did a good job of what their part was. And, that's
about all I have to say about that.
FUCHS: Was this meeting held in the Ruskin High School?
BABCOCK: In the Ruskin High School building, that's right.
FUCHS: Do you remember him being back on the farm at all after the war?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes. Let's see, that would be what year?
FUCHS: 1919, when he came back and got married then in June.
BABCOCK: No. I just can't say that I do remember, because that was two
years later than I thought. I was beginning to get involved in other things.
FUCHS: Did you go to his wedding?
BABCOCK: I did not. I was not invited.
FUCHS: That was in Independence?
BABCOCK: Yes, I think it was.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything about the Ku Klux Klan and especially in
connection with Harry Truman in the postwar years?
BABCOCK: I remember about the Ku Klux Klan. I remember about it, but
not in connection with Harry. I do remember this. They held a meeting
in the lodge hall in Hickman Mills; notices were sent out that there would
be an interesting meeting and inviting all the citizenry around there
to attend. And, the notice was worded in such a way that it would create
your interest. There had been talk on Ku Klux Klan prior to that around
there, and you could have some reason to believe that maybe it would be
a Ku Klux, but we didn't know it necessarily. I did go to that
meeting. Vivian Truman and I sat together at that meeting. When the men
who opened the meeting got up to explain what their meeting was about,
they said if there were any foreign-born people there, and any non-Protestants
there, which I took to mean Catholics, or any husband who had a wife that
was non-Protestant, meaning Catholic, and a few more qualifications, they
would suggest that they leave the room. Well, immediately, a bunch of
us left, and Vivian and I were together and we left. It was a Ku Klux
FUCHS: In other words, it was not advertised as a Ku Klux meeting and
you left, not because you were non-Protestant or foreign born but because
BABCOCK: I wanted no part of it, and Vivian and I got up and left. Now,
Harry wasn't at that meeting. Vivian and I sat together and this I remember
FUCHS: You met at the meeting, you and Vivian?
BABCOCK: We didn't go to the meeting together, but we got together downstairs
and went up to the meeting and sat together. A few years later I bought
that same building. They were not having the meetings
then, but those old robes were still there, you know. One or two are
in this house today. Mother kept one of those things just for the ridiculousness
of it to show some of the kids; she showed some of the grandkids just
this year. That's today. Now, isn't that an interesting thing?
FUCHS: Yes, it is. You have no other memories of the Ku Klux Klan activities?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes, there was quite a bit. One of our mail carriers down
there was a fellow named Chrisman. You see, of the three mail carriers
I had under me, he was a Ku Klux Klan man and one of the leaders. Also
a fellow named Colton was a leader, and I knew it was going on there all
the time, you see. Now, in fact one of those men asked me to go to Kansas
City with him one night, and I did and it was one of those meetings again.
They were trying to get people out and to the churches lots of times,
in the Protestant churches.
FUCHS: Did you know what kind of meeting it was, when you went at that
FUCHS: What happened at that meeting? Did you get up and
leave that one too?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes.
FUCHS: Does the name Harry Hoffman mean anything to you?
BABCOCK: Yes, it does, but I can't recall it. Was he a labor man?
FUCHS: I have heard that he was in some way connected with the Ku Klux
Klan in Kansas City. What did you think when Mr. Truman first announced
he was going to run for judge and what do you know about his announcing
as a candidate for eastern judge in 1922?
BABCOCK: Well, very little. I believe the first information came through
Vivian, his brother. I told you that I voted for him the first time he
ran; but that's the only time I voted for him because it was just without
any question that he was directly involved with the Pendergast bunch which
was getting pretty wicked then, you see. They'd been there for quite a
while and I wanted no part of it.
FUCHS: In the subsequent elections for presiding judge, you didn't?
BABCOCK: No, sir. I either voted against him or I didn't vote.
FUCHS: Is there anything that stands out in your memory about that first
candidacy of Mr. Truman's?
BABCOCK: No, there isn't. But I do remember a meeting that I went to.
Mr. O. V. Slaughter conducted the meeting at Hickman Mills, and I remember
a statement that he made recommending Harry. It was a very unusual statement,
not senseless, but unusual; he made the statement that it gave him a good
deal of pleasure to recommend Harry for this job. He said that he had
known Harry all Harry's life -- he was a good deal older -- and in fact,
he said, "I knew him before he was born. I knew his parents, see, and
I knew his mother's people well; they were all good citizens and active
and respectable and capable." That's the first time Harry ran for political
office. The Slaughters and the Trumans were neighbors and apparent friends.
I never heard the Slaughters say one thing against the Trumans; they supported
them in elections. I have never heard any family of people, meaning the
Truman family, make as many really nasty remarks about another family
as the Trumans did about the Slaughters. The Slaughters were very frugal
people, and they were a little eccentric.
Most of that came from the fact that they were much smarter and much
better educated than the Trumans, and I think the Trumans were jealous
of them. If they wanted something done that took intelligence in the community
or something in the bank or in the church, they'd call the Slaughters,
because they had the ability. I think the Trumans were jealous of them;
they seemed to take great sport in downgrading the Slaughters. We were
extremely friendly with the Slaughters and had great respect for them.
FUCHS: Do you recall any specific incident about the Slaughters, the
Trumans might have participated in?
BABCOCK: Well, the Slaughters -- they were quite a big family. They were
capable in music; they were capable in many fields. The oldest boy, Homer,
got an appointment to West Point and made a fine record. Other boys and
girls came along and made fine records. One of the boys, John, became
a county agent. They had a registered herd of Jersey cows and were delivering
grade A milk to a hotel in Kansas City, the Coates House, at a good price
because of the quality of the milk. Now, here's a thing. One very cold
John was milking and he was very cold. Since there was a concrete floor
in this new, modern dairy barn, he actually built a fire in the barn on
this concrete floor, back of the cow he was milking. A spark from this
fire caught in something in the barn and burned the barn down together
with the contents and, I think, twenty-four head of registered Jersey
cows. It was a terrific loss in money besides the terrible thing of burning
the cows alive. A day or two later, Vivian and I were together and he
was talking about that "Damn fool John Slaughter, educated at the University
of Missouri" and having no more sense than doing that. He said, "That's
simply a typical Slaughter stunt. All they know is in the books." And
he went on as they always did. I remember that incident very well. You
asked for a particular incident. The Slaughters were certainly one among
our best farmers.
FUCHS: That's pretty good. It wasn't good for the cows, though. Did you
know Tom Pendergast?
BABCOCK: Not personally. I have seen him and certainly know him by reputation
with J. C. Nichols Real Estate Company in Kansas City. Prior to my working
for them, they had built a home for him. It was a fine home
in an excellent location. I understood that some of the doors were equipped
with gold doorknobs. The biggest thing that most of the down-and-outs
say, "Oh, well, he gave us a turkey dinner around Thanksgiving." You know,
he would give the people a dollar and take a thousand from them. It was
bad for the city. When I was working for J. C. Nichols it got to the point
you could hardly get an industry into Kansas City because of his corruption.
Because of the hold he had on the city government they couldn't build
without going to him and buying his stuff. It was just that bad. Would
you expect me to support a man who would do that? And he built
Harry Truman. Harry Truman stayed by him.
The worst thing about Harry Truman was that he was loyal to the point,
it was a curse on him and the country. When Harry Truman was President,
he would hold up for any persons guilty of corruption or Communist connections,
even after they had been convicted, if they were his supporters. Now that
is the worst thing I could say about anybody, especially when it came
to your country's loyalty. That's why I don't like Harry Truman's overall
period in the White House.
Pendergast had developed one of the strong city, state, and national
political machines in the country, and Pendergast had developed Harry
Truman. Pendergast was convicted and served time in the Federal Penitentiary
at Leavenworth, and still Harry Truman remained loyal to him. This is
a matter of national record. I cannot see why or how a good citizen could
Now, both our son and son-in-law were in the service so we, of course,
were concerned, because each one had a child. We wanted this war to end,
of course. I certainly want to give Harry Truman credit for one most important
decision that he made, and this was the use of the atom bomb as he did.
My viewpoint on this is: Why hesitate to use it? Everything considered,
there are fewer deaths and less misery through the use of this than by
using the conventional military tactics. And of course we all know this
ended the war almost instantly. There were, of course, many reports coming
out regarding the effects of these bombs, some of them conflicting. I
became very much interested in wanting to know the facts.
So as soon after the war as we could get away, my wife and I went to
Japan and spent a month. Two of the
first places we went to were the places where those bombs had been dropped
so we could make observations. There was no place in the islands that
I went that I was treated better than at both of those places. We saw
MacArthur come and go from his headquarters a number of times. The Japanese
citizens -- to a man -- showed all the respect in the world to MacArthur.
Without exception my wife and I were treated in a most courteous manner.
For all concerned, I think there was no doubt that that was the proper
way to bring that war to a close.
FUCHS: What year was this?
BABCOCK: The war was over in '45, wasn't it? I believe it was '50. I
know we were the first people -- does the name Mt. Osso mean anything
to you? Well, that's a recreational area of hot springs, spas they call
them, you know; and the report was that we were the first people from
America that were entertained there. We were all over Japan from Hokkaido
way north to the Nagasaki area; we spent all our time traveling all around.
And I want to tell you something; if this country goes on as I think it's
going (I hope I'm wrong), I think our form of government will change pretty
fast. I honestly wonder whether it might not have been better for the
Japanese to have won this war, and I'll tell you why.
The Japanese are very intelligent people, pretty farsighted; when they
won the war with Russia, they were pretty easy to deal with on terms of
peace, reasonable. I'd rather try to make an agreement and expect it to
be kept with Japan than I would with Russia. It's not too far-fetched
to think that we may have to deal with Russia under similar conditions
some of these days, the way things are going.
FUCHS: You mean with them the victor in the war?
FUCHS: Why do you think it would end up in such a position?
BABCOCK: Well, in the first place, nothing's impossible. In the next
place, I think they're gaining more of the world on their side than we
are; and I think they have unquestionable leadership in loyalty and in
ability and in dedication. It's pretty hard to beat that combination.
And listen here, you see this book?
FUCHS: Guide to Subversive Organizations and Publications.
BABCOCK: From our government. I just got it the other day. Look at that
in our country.
FUCHS: Are these all existing ones or is this a historical compilation?
BABCOCK: No, this is true -- existing. Now, if Russia knew it had subversives
in the country, it would shoot them. Now just keep this in mind: Russia
has dedicated every man to one thing, to win for communism, every man.
They have that advantage. We are so liberal as actually to let them have
a Communist party in our country when they are out, unquestionably out,
to destroy our form of government. They claim that; they'll tell you that.
Yet we'll let them be protected under a Constitution that they're trying
to tear up.
FUCHS: But, of course, the argument that's used, is "that's democracy."
We have the Communists register and those who deal with these things feel
that it's better to have them above ground than underground, where we
can observe them and keep track of them.
BABCOCK: Now, one of the things that Harry used to say and I buy, "Let's
apply some common sense." Is it common sense to let these subversives
run around here and let these protesting kids act as they do? Is it common
sense to let people rape people? When I was a
boy, they were hanged and were mobbed; the trouble was stopped. We're
too soft, I think, too soft in every respect. I would add another alphabetic
formula: 3 F's -- firmness, fairness, and fastness.
FUCHS: Well, we've discussed one of Mr. Truman's decisions, that on the
atomic bomb; if you'd like, what do you think of some of his other decisions
such as the decision in 1950 to go into Korea?
BABCOCK: Well, from what I know about it, I'll put it this way. It so
happened that my wife and I were sailing on a ship for Japan at the very
time that Truman was meeting MacArthur not very far from where we were.
Of course, I knew the background of Harry Truman very well and had observed
all of MacArthur's victories throughout the war period. He had directed
the Pacific war almost alone and had made such an outstanding success
that I could find no criticism in his decisions. He undoubtedly knew the
Oriental mind better the, or as well as, any other American. No man in
our country knew military strategy any better, if as well. This was his
life. Harry Truman had had only a smattering of exposure in this field
with practically no experience. When you consider the
background and integrity of the two men, how can you question that MacArthur's
plan was superior?
Prior to this time Truman had not questioned MacArthur's judgment in
handling military affairs. Truman had even sent MacArthur via the battleship
Missouri to Japanese waters to sign the peace treaty with Japan
-- proof that he had trust in MacArthur's judgment.
A good part of Harry Truman's life and experience had been politics.
He said many times that he had no use for statesmen but that he admired
politicians. Politicians know that if the economy is good while they're
in power, they'll usually stay in power. Politicians know that war creates
business. While no political party wants to be known as a war party, "Let's
look at the record" (as Al Smith often said). To make a summary of this,
I think Harry handled it wrong.
FUCHS: You mean the relief of MacArthur?
FUCHS: What about the decisions to intervene in Korea in 1950 when the
northern Koreans first invaded South Korea across the 38th parallel?
BABCOCK: Don't you think we could have won that thing?
FUCHS: Do you think Mr. Truman made a right decision though, to intervene
there and send MacArthur into Korea?
BABCOCK: Yes, I do. I think that's right. Of course, I'm telling you
I don't think everything was wrong, but I think certain things were wrong.
FUCHS: But, you think he should have let MacArthur go into...
BABCOCK: I do. Let him go on in and follow through. Yes, sir, I sure
do, and do you know one thing before we get off this...Now wait a minute,
are we getting too far from Harry?
FUCHS: Well, this is tied in with what you think of his decisions and
I'm interested in hearing....
BABCOCK: No, no, what I'm about to say is not tied in with Harry. It
begins before that...I don't think there'd be a place for it in here.
FUCHS: What do you know of Fred Canfil?
BABCOCK: I attended a meeting in Kansas City and that's one of the last
times I saw Harry; I think it was some sort of farm meeting in the Municipal
Building in Kansas City. I went out and I met Vivian and Mr. Canfil and
some other Kansas Citians. We ate dinner together
that day. Harry was at the meeting; but we did not eat with Harry. I
recall that Mayor La Guardia made a talk. One of the things I got out
of this meeting was Harry's typical performance. Harry never sat still
a minute; he was always running here and there, trying to get things organized.
During the entire day, I kept thinking that this type of activity was
probably one of the big contributions to his becoming a politician. He
actually just plays politics in organizing people and getting them together.
Living in Platte County, of course, I had known Henry Dillingham and
had admired him. He had been a good worker in the Democratic Party. In
fact, his entire family had worked in the Democratic Party and unquestionably
were respected persons, but anti-Pendergast. Up until that day I had not
met Canfil, but knew of his standing in the party. He was slated for Dillingham's
job as U. S. Marshal.
Now Harry was the one that did the replacing, see. And I believe I told
you, that the last time I called on Mr. Dillingham at his home, he told
me that one of the things that he got the most satisfaction out
of, was the time that he personally, with another man, took Pendergast
right down the road in front of where we both lived to Leavenworth to
put him in the penitentiary. I'm not surprised at Henry saying that, because
he'd been trying to get it done for some time. You can see why Harry would
want to get rid of him, because Harry was dealing with a man who had built
him up; Henry Dillingham was dealing with a man who was trying to get
Dillingham out of the way.
FUCHS: What do you know of Fred Canfil's background?
BABCOCK: I just had heard of him. I really do not know. I had heard many
things about the man. I do not know just when he came into the political
picture. I just knew of some of his performances afterward, which I heard
criticized. One of the extreme cases was the time he got into some argument
down in south Missouri at a meeting. The people with whom he was talking
claimed that he should not do certain things because of the Constitution.
He openly made the remark, "To hell with the Constitution." His being
a United States Marshal and making such a remark as that was just too
much for me.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything else that you've heard about him?
BABCOCK: Not specifically, just generally. Many of the comments were
not complimentary; most of them were not. I think that Harry made a mistake
when he put him in that position.
FUCHS: You spoke of this meeting where Mr. Truman and Canfil were both
present, Mr. Truman seemed to be moving about quite a bit, organizing
things, what year was that? Can you place it? Was Mr. Truman a judge at
BABCOCK: No, he was U. S. Senator. La Guardia, mayor of New York City,
was there to make a talk. La Guardia was one of my national heroes; I
admired the man very much. At this meeting he was giving his time and
his thought to inform the people and get over his point. Harry was giving
all his time in Kansas City to playing politics. And that very thing sort
of typifies the two men as I study them and know them. In other words,
they both acted as I would have expected them to act.
FUCHS: Are you acquainted with Rufus Burrus of Independence?
BABCOCK: I am not, just heard the name. That's all.
FUCHS: Do you know Maurice Milligan?
BABCOCK: Yes, sir. I've met with him at his office. When
I was with J. C. Nichols, I showed his wife a suburban property which
we had for sale located north of Kansas City; I think it was in Clay County
rather than in Platte County. They did not buy the property; I've forgotten
what came up. Anyway, I had talked politics with Mr. Milligan. I never
knew, never talked with a man for whom I had more respect, and his record
would justify that respect. He was, of course, not supported by Truman,
but he was the right man and the man that I would have voted for,
regardless of who was running against him and regardless of politics.
There have been a number of Missouri men in the Democratic Party that
I certainly would support; he was one of them, as was Governor Stark.
I'll tell you the smartest resident that Kansas City ever had and one
of the best thinkers ever in the Senate in my time, one of the men that
I believe in 100 percent, and one of the men that Harry Truman fought
the hardest at times. That was our Missouri Senator, James A. Reed. Harry
Truman defeated him as Senator in Missouri. You can't compare Jim Reed
with Harry Truman; there's no comparison there. Jim Reed was just head
and shoulders, not only above Harry Truman,
but above any other political figure who came from Missouri in my lifetime,
in my judgment, in either party.
FUCHS: Did you vote for Reed?
BABCOCK: I was for Reed all the way. Now, any man that wasn't for Reed
just didn't know him, his ability, his capacity. He's the man that kept
us out of the League of Nations during the First World War, and I never
was for it. I'm just very much opposed to any of those things like the
United Nations; I think is a ridiculous playhouse. I think it's causing
us no end of trouble; I think it's killing the Monroe Doctrine. The League
of Nations is sort of...oh, it's like a couple...
FUCHS: You mean United Nations?
BABCOCK: Either one. United Nations or League of Nations. You'd expect
similar results to come out of a church meeting, unworkable things that
are nice to talk about but impossible to do, I mean to work. That's the
way I feel about it.
FUCHS: Well, now did you know Tuck Milligan in the 1934 primary? He ran
for the nomination against Mr. Truman along with John Cochran. Now he
was a brother
of Maurice Milligan.
BABCOCK: Yes, I knew there was such a man, but personally I did not know
FUCHS: Well, in the '34 primary you wouldn't have voted in that primary
as a Democrat, you would have been a registered Republican.
BABCOCK: Yes, I would have been a registered Republican.
FUCHS: Then you probably voted for Patterson in '34?
FUCHS: Well, in 1940, you were a strong supporter of Milligan, did you
not participate in the Democratic primary that year when he and Stark
ran against Mr. Truman -- Mr. Truman, of course was running for the renomination
BABCOCK: Well, I supported Milligan, I'll put it that way, anywhere I
could. That's right. I was a believer in him. But my life has been more
or less complicated, you see, in and out of different places; but I had
pretty strong beliefs and kept up on these people.
FUCHS: Did you know Lloyd Stark personally?
BABCOCK: Not personally, but certainly by reputation, and it was good.
Record was good.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything of a movement in 1931
to run Harry Truman for Governor of the state?
BABCOCK: No, sir, I do not.
FUCHS: There's a letter in our files written in 1950 by you to Mr. Truman,
in which you mentioned Ambassador Dick Patterson, who was a mutual friend,
and he said that he had just seen the President and the President said
remember him to you.
BABCOCK: Yes, I remember the letter. I got some correspondence at different
times, but I didn't keep it because I thought that I'd never need it.
A lot of it I didn't want to be reminded of too much.
FUCHS: How did you first become acquainted with Ambassador Patterson?
BABCOCK: Through the J. C. Nichols Company. The Pattersons, who lived
in New York, owned a number of properties in Kansas City, Missouri, in
Kansas, and in Colorado. The J. C. Nichols Company handled these properties.
The management and sales of these properties were handled in the department
I was in. Mr. Patterson was Ambassador to Yugoslavia and served in this
capacity when Tito was in power and during World War II. Mr. Patterson
made some trips back to Kansas City to inspect these properties; I took
him on these inspection
trips. These trips lasted several days and covered considerable distances.
And on one trip (the first trip after his return from serving in Yugoslavia),
he worked in a speaking tour. These speeches concerned his working in
a communistic country. Time and again on this trip he would ask me to
stop when we came to any big store -- grocery, general, etc. We would
go in and inspect the place. He just marveled at the many items for sale.
Having lived for so long where so little was offered, he was impressed
by all this. He talked to me so often about Tito himself, and I think
he admired Tito as an individual. He said Tito was frank, fair, and brave.
He predicted that not even Russia could push him around. This has proven
Mr. Patterson and Mr. Nichols were personal friends; and since Mr. Nichols
had served as a $1-a-year man, I wondered whether they might have become
acquainted when Mr. Nichols served in Washington, D.C.
I so well remember quite a number of belittling comments that Harry and
Vivian made about these $1-a-year men. Here again some traits of the Trumans
were revealed. The $1-a-year men were chosen not because
of their politics but because they were practical business men.
FUCHS: Did you ever attend one of Mr. Truman's political campaign speeches
BABCOCK: No, not a rally. I told you about being at that first political
meeting when Mr. Slaughter introduced Harry.
FUCHS: No subsequent one?
FUCHS: How would you characterize Mr. Truman on the scale from liberal
to conservative? Where would you place him?
BABCOCK: He was serving as Vice President under Franklin Roosevelt, who
in my opinion was a liberal. As soon as he became President, he vowed
to continue the policies that Roosevelt had advocated. When he was in
the Senate, he was decidedly pro-labor. Yes, his entire record would brand
him as a liberal.
As I feel today, I feel that the liberal element in the Democratic Party
has contributed to the major part of the troubles in the whole world.
In other words, I think that we should have stayed out of the First World
War; and no doubt, Germany would have
won that war. Germany, France, England, those countries, have warred
for centuries. Somebody wins and they live peacefully awhile. They probably
would have done the same and have kept the old leaders in Germany that
were there when the war started. Instead of that, we threw them out. We
left Germany without a leader, so they naturally would follow almost anyone.
They followed Hitler. Hitler came in and we all sat by and let him build
up until he nearly conquered the world. What did we do then? We got into
that. We joined Russia; we built up Russia in four years more than it
possibly could have been built up in a hundred years by itself. So now,
we have the Communists. We built them up, and they're taking over many,
many countries, one by one. We're letting them do it. So the whole world
has been in trouble. We got in the United Nations through all this mix-up.
We are now implicated in all these things. Our hands are tied in many
ways, in ridiculous ways; so, actually, I'm going to blame the liberal
element in the Democrat Party. Now, here's one thing I'd like to interject.
What has Khrushchev done? Khrushchev purged Stalin, not by killing millions
their people as Stalin had, but by making a complete change. Now what
are we doing? Instead of purging some of the people that led us off like
that, meaning Roosevelt and his bunch, what are we doing? We're still
idolizing the very thing that ruined us and in my judgment, directed us
wrong. It's the political divisions in our politics that have been weakening
our country, meaning that the leaders in their parties seem to be more
interested in the strength of their party than in the strength of the
I notice Russia is sending men to our country to learn our methods in
agriculture and many other things. They see to it that their citizens
make extreme sacrifices to contribute to the growth and strength of their
nation. Military strength is, of course, number one with them. Foreign
trade is important in their plan for world leadership. If the two countries
follow the courses they are on, it could be disastrous. I plan to get
over to Russia as soon as one can get permission to cover the country
fairly well. I think Roosevelt should have cooperated more with Mr. Hoover
between the time of the election and the time of Roosevelt's inauguration.
I was following it very closely and he absolutely refused to do it. I
bank guarantee law is unnecessary. I think it only protects the people
because they need protection from bad bankers, and I think that bad bankers
are kept in business at the expense of good bankers. The whole thing is
financed by a premium paid by the banks rated on the deposits in the bank.
The bankers in turn have to get this back some way or other, and it's
largely through service charges, which the depositors pay. So, really,
I cannot understand why it's necessarily a good thing. To prove my point:
Many, many banks stayed open during the holiday and immediately following
because they were in good condition, because they'd had good management.
So, one of the things that the Roosevelt administration is complimented
most for by more people, in my judgment, is not necessarily a good thing.
I couldn't help but notice Mr. Kennedy's inauguration speech. He was praising
the great Roosevelt. When I heard this, I knew we'd probably have a continuation
of the Roosevelt policies. These I think we should get away from.
FUCHS: What about the Truman policy?
BABCOCK: Well, Truman policy was more or less a continuation of Roosevelt.
FUCHS: You think that he was in the liberal element of the Democratic
BABCOCK: Yes, I do. As I said, I think that his tie-in with labor would
be the best proof of his being considered in the liberal element. I think
you can pretty well judge a man's economic sense of balance by the group
that he ties up with. I do not like the expression, "tying up with a group"
or "joining a group." I do not like for any man to make a division in
people. I think they should be considered as a whole. In fact, that's
one reason I'm not a Democrat. It seems to me, as I look back, that Democrats
are forever talking about the "little man," and there is no such "little
man." Now, here, I think the people in the Republican Party are usually
better businessmen than the people of the Democrat Party. Let's go back
to Thomas Jefferson, a great man, who did a great deal for this country.
But, let's take a little better look at the man. He inherited a lot of
land, a lot of property. He gave a great deal to his country, a great
deal of thought and time that was wonderful; but having been given all
of this property, not having had a lot of sickness, not having raised
a big family,
not having any just reason for not at least holding these finances together,
what happened? He got himself into such a bad financial position that
his friends had to come to his rescue to keep his whole home from being
foreclosed upon. He was a poor economist, poor businessman; to me if you're
going to have a good country, it's got to be in good financial condition.
You can't have a happy home, even, without that. I stress that every day.
I deal with many people and I know. As I've said before, I've been in
many countries; and I find that if the finances of the country aren't
strong, the country is not strong, the government is not strong. That's
why I dwell on it so much.
FUCHS: Would you say that Franklin Roosevelt was a good economist?
BABCOCK: No. He inherited all his money. I'll tell you something. I would
never have voted for that man, if I had been following what he had been
doing in his own state prior to the time he ran for President, because
he didn't manage it well -- I mean financially. Finances are a must.
FUCHS: What about Harry Truman? Would you say he was a good economist?
BABCOCK: No, no, no. All this string of failures? I told you, he had
a string of them.
FUCHS: What about President Kennedy?
BABCOCK: No. His own father said he could not interest any of his boys
in economy. That was enough for me. Just another rich man's son whose
father was trying to elect him to the highest office in the land. Up to
this time he had demonstrated no real ability at anything; his experience
in business had been nil. The family had revealed that they were simply
a power-hungry group who were very wealthy and were using their money
to further their personal desires. Such ideas as the Peace Corps pretty
well represented his thinking, and we certainly know that that has not
been a practical program. I think this kind of program would fit in better
with church missionary work.
When I was in South America, I met and spent some time with a former
serviceman, who was from near Cheyenne and northern Colorado and knew
my town very well. It was in La Paz that I met and spent some time with
him. He said the particular Peace Corps program he was working on at the
time was with the natives, and they were attempting to improve their
The dairy was some 65 miles out from La Paz in a backward part of the
country; most of the inhabitants were Indian and Spanish. In reply to
my question as to how he was getting along, he said he was in La Paz to
try to sell the butter they were producing. But he said he'd been unable
to sell it at the price they'd have to have. He told me it was costing
them 92 cents a pound to produce; but he said the hotels and other outlets
had told him that they could buy imported butter which was just as good
at a cheaper price. This Peace Corps man and I talked about various ideas
that he had, but it seemed that none of them were workable or practical.
It just so happened a few days later at an airport in a South American
city I saw two men that I knew to be from the United States. It developed
that they were church missionaries -- I think from the Presbyterian Church.
When I inquired as to how they were getting along, the older man said,
"I'm leaving. I've been here two years. I've been working with these people,
but I'm leaving."
And the other fellow said, "Well, I'm going to stay
a while; I don't know how long. We find it awfully bad. The Peace Corps
come in here, and the government can pay those men much more money to
go around here among these people than the church can pay us. The Peace
Corps men must stay with these natives, and our government pays the native
$45 a month in cash. The way the whole thing works the church is unable
to carry on its work in competition with the Peace Corps."
I asked the Peace Corps man, if it was difficult for them to find places
to stay. He replied, "Oh no, they want to get that $45 a month."
We've really been proving for years that the best way to help a backward
country is to let one of our proven corporations or businesses set up
a branch, utilize the raw materials, and employ the native people. Wherever
you go and wherever this is tried, this procedure proves the most practical.
For it is perfectly natural for the religious organizations and benevolent
groups to follow; then, after this come schools, hospitals, etc.
I think there is no doubt that the Catholics and other religious organizations
have prevented progress
and good government in a number of countries in both hemispheres. When
a certain organization practically controls up to 80 percent or 90 percent
of the people, it usually works toward their own detriment. Here again
is a splendid argument for competition and our form of government. We
do have cases when aid is sent to a country for the people, but it is
directed more toward a particular organization than toward the people
at large, as it is meant to be.
FUCHS: You mean when the Catholics send money in?
BABCOCK: No, no, when our Government sends aid to another country.
FUCHS: You're thinking of the Peace Corps or other things?
BABCOCK: No, not the Peace Corps, aid to the government of the other
country for its immediate relief and general health, including the military
strength of the other country.
FUCHS: You said that of the three Presidents, the, last three Democratic
Presidents, you prefer Mr. Truman, why?
BABCOCK: Largely because of his background. Because of the way he's lived.
I think he's much closer to the
life of the so-called average American since his background was like
that of most of us. I would put Kennedy at the bottom. His background
is that of such a small percentage of our people -- his environment, his
lack of any firsthand experience. This, accompanied with the known fact
that his father was dead set on having his sons in government positions
and certainly was promoting them in many ways with his vast wealth. If
you are not familiar with the way Joe Kennedy, Sr. acquired his wealth,
I suggest you make an investigation of this. I think you'll find the Kennedy
family ran roughshod over their best friends in order to get what they
wanted. If you will investigate the first build-up of Johnson and Truman,
you will find some similarities in voting irregularities; but as I consider
the good and bad for our country in the two administrations, I think Truman
no doubt made the better showing.
Now as we all know; nothing is all bad. There are, and have been, some
outstanding, fine, honorable men in both parties. I know the records of
quite a number of men in the Democrat Party, such as Byrd of Virginia,
and I personally know one man in Washington
that I have all respect for.
FUCHS: For the record, who was this?
BABCOCK: Rex Whitten. He was administrator of the Highway Department.
I'd like to work with him. Rex Whitten and I grew up in the same neighborhood.
I, of course, knew him and his parents well. While I am older than Rex,
we graduated from the same high school. I visited him when he was in the
University of Missouri. He went directly from college into the Missouri
State Highway Department and stayed with it until he went to Washington,
D.C. He did an outstanding job in the Missouri Department, which, as far
as I know, could never have been given any just criticism. I think we'd
all like to contribute something that in some way would help to solve
our highway traffic problems. And I do believe that Rex Whitten, with
his vast experience in this thing and his good judgment and his reasonableness,
would go along on any program that would work.
FUCHS: What did you think of Mr. Truman, as a strong or weak President?
BABCOCK: Well, I want to be fair to him. Sometimes you can jump in and
do too much too fast, change too many
things, without necessarily improving conditions. I don't believe overall
that I'd be too hard on Harry on that. I think he upheld some men that
he shouldn't have. As I told you before, I think that was a great failing
of Harry. He's too loyal to people who have supported him.
Here's another thing. I think both Truman and Johnson are guilty of developing
a strong "crony" political organization; this, of course, is dangerous
and expensive, and it cannot be justified. I think Johnson carries it
much farther than Truman. But I think that Truman could have dropped some
men that were proven to be disloyal and were proven to be dishonest. I
think it would have been to the nation's interest -- our interest and
his interest -- if he just didn't want to say anything against them, just
FUCHS: Do you have some in mind?
BABCOCK: Well, wasn't it this fellow [Alger] Hiss. Didn't he uphold him
after he was proven to be a doubtful character? He never did downgrade
the man, did he?
FUCHS: Well, he didn't get into it, only indirectly. He never denounced
Acheson who refused to turn his
back on Hiss, and, of course, a lot of criticism fell on Acheson then
and Mr. Truman continued to support Mr. Acheson. And, of course, he did
say that the case was a "red herring" -- the Communist charges.
BABCOCK: Yes, which proved that he was wrong. He never apologized for
that, which he could have. A big man will do those things. You've got
to be big to come out and apologize when you're wrong, and especially
when you're before the whole world. That's a test of a man. And I would
have thought a lot more of him had he done that. Actually [Richard] Nixon
had an apology coming on that deal, you know.
FUCHS: Of course, Mr. Truman has always claimed that Nixon called him
a traitor and that's been the principal bone of contention.
BABCOCK: I know. If you uphold a man who is proven to be subversive,
you're verging pretty close on it.
Are there any other questions that you're thinking of?
FUCHS: Well, while we're making comparisons, how would you compare Mr.
Eisenhower and Mr. Truman?
BABCOCK: Well, Mr. Eisenhower is his own man. Mr. Eisenhower is not a
politician at all. No one knew his
politics. He did a wonderful job, I thought, in handling his war work.
I don't believe that anyone could even think that he was dishonest and
disloyal. That isn't in his making. I listened to all his speeches, went
to both inaugurals, and followed him very closely. It would be hard for
me to criticize Mr. Eisenhower. He was always talking "fiscal responsibility,
integrity, decency" which I'm hepped up on. That is the foundation. He
was working more on the foundation all his eight years than he was on
the super-structure. I think maybe your great man from Ohio would have
been a wonderful President.
FUCHS: You're thinking of Taft?
BABCOCK: Oh, yes. Most of our men in the Republican Party wanted him.
Of course, he died, but he could have made a better President -- he could
have. I certainly would have been for him. I doubt his being able to be
elected. As you said yourself, "You've got to give and yield a little
to be elected." Well, if you've got a sure thing in a man like Eisenhower,
I think you may make a mistake in trying to get another man elected even
though the latter might make a better President. Now, I think that that's
probably good politics and good thinking. And I think that's the situation
that the Republican Party was in. I think it split the party pretty badly
and I think those wounds haven't healed yet; I know they haven't, because
I've talked to some people. I told you that I contribute to the party.
I go to many $100-a-plate dinners. I go to them because I think it's my
duty. Summing it all up, I think, perhaps, Taft might have made a better
President, overall, than Ike. But I was very well satisfied with Ike.
I'll tell you what he could have done. His last year in office, if he'd
have played just plain politics and pumped a lot of money into the economy
which he could have done, and had a lot of public spending going on, which
he could have done, and employed more people, why, he could have set that
thing up. And the Republicans all knew it and they were mad at him for
not doing it -- the leaders, the politicians -- but he would not do it.
Now, that's bad politics and it lost the election. I don't think there's
any doubt. But the election was close at that, and I'm not so sure that
two or three big cities didn't use their opportunity to take some votes
that weren't theirs.
It happened in Kansas City -- it used to happen; it can happen; and I
told you today, that I think the theft of one vote is a bigger sin than
the theft of a million dollars. Would you sell your vote for a million
dollars; would you?
FUCHS: I probably would, but I don't want that to go in the record.
BABCOCK: But should you?
FUCHS: No, you shouldn't.
BABCOCK: I'm telling you, I wouldn't. I wouldn't hesitate a minute.
FUCHS: Thank you very much.
[Top of the Page | Notices
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| Appendix | List of Subjects Discussed]
Additional Statement by Gaylon E. Babcock on Butler State Bank letterhead, entitled "Appendix, August 30, 1971."
[Top of the Page | Notices
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| Appendix | List of Subjects Discussed]
List of Subjects Discussed
Acheson, Dean, 109
Animals, a discussion of the veterinary care of farm animals, 45-47
Automobile Club of Kansas City, 8, 9,
background of, 1
Board of Trade, 71
Communists, discussed by, 84-86
mining interests of, 62-64
Japan, discussed by, 82-84
Korean War, discussed by, 87, 88
MacArthur, General Douglas, comments on the dismissal of, 86-87
and Harry S. Truman, 6-13, 15, 16,
and John Anderson Truman, 18-20
and Vivian Truman, 16
Brauner, A.D., 8, 9, 70
Burrus, Rufus, 91
Butler, Missouri, 42
Campbell, Bill, 62
Campbell, Curt, 62
Canfil, Fred, 88, 89, 90-91
Citizen's Bank of Englewood, 72
Cochran, John, 93
Communists, a discussion of, 84-86
Community Savings and Loan Association, 69
Culbertson, Jerry, 61
Dillingham, Henry, 89-90
Eastern Star, 65, 66
Eisenhower, Dwight David, 110-111
Farm Equipment, a discussion of, 34-35
Fort Peck, Montana, 25
Grandview, Missouri, 22, 66
Hall, Bill, 35
Guide to Subversive Organizations and Publications, 84
Hall, Cecil, 35
Hall, Ella, 35
Hall, Leslie, 22-23
Hall, Stanley, 22, 35
Hall, William, 22-23, 24
Harding, Warren, 67
Havre, Montana, 22
Hickman Mills, Missouri, 2, 8, 9,
22, 62, 65, 74,
Hiss, Alger, 109-110
Hitler, Adolf, 98
Hoffman, Harry, 77
Hoover, Herbert, 99
Huber, Brownie, 54
Independence, Missouri, 91
Industrial Workers of the World, 33-34
Jackson County, Missouri, 2
Jackson County Farm Bureau, 54
Jacobson, Edward, 66
Japan, a discussion of, 82-84
Jefferson, Thomas, 101
Johnson, Lyndon B., 107
Joplin, Missouri, 62
Kansas City, Missouri, 2, 33,
Kansas City Automobile Club, 8, 9,
Kennedy, John F., 100, 103, 107
Kennedy, Joseph, 107
Khruschev, Nikita, 98
Korean War, a discussion of, 87, 88
Ku Klux Klan, a discussion of, 74-77
LaGuardia, Fiorello, 89, 91
League of Nations, 93
Leavenworth, Kansas, 82, 90
MacArthur, General Douglas, 83
a discussion of the dismissal of, 86-88
Milligan, Jacob "Tuck", 93-94
Milligan, Maurice, 91, 94
Monroe Doctrine, 93
Montana, drawings held for land in, 22-29
Moore, Roy, 65
Moore, Mrs. Roy (Clara), 65-66
Morgan, David, 64
Nichols, J.C., 80-81, 92,
Nixon, Richard M., 110
Palmer, William, 54
Platte County, Missouri, 1, 89
Park National Bank, 59
Patterson, Richard, 95-96
Peace Corps, 103-104, 105, 106
Pendergast, Thomas J. "Tom", 41, 77,
Reed, James A., 92-93
Road overseers, a discussion of, 39-40
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 97, 99,
Rosebud Indian Reservation, 24
Ruskin Heights, Missouri, 2
Ruskin Heights High School, 72
Salisbury, Spencer, 69, 71
Slaughter, John, 79-80
Slaughter, O.V., 78-79, 97
Slaughter family, a discussion of, 78-80
Smith, Alfred E., 87
Stark, Lloyd C., 41, 92, 94
Stalin, Joseph, 98-99
Taft, Robert, 111-112
Truman, Harry S., 6-8, 11, 20,
22, 37-38, 50,
88, 94, 95, 96,
102-103, 106-107, 110,
Automobile Club of Kansas City, works for, 68
Truman, Mrs. Harry S. "Bess", 64
and Gaylon Babcock, 6-13, 15-16,
and the Community Savings and Loan Association, 69,
disposition of, 16-18, 21, 26-27
evaluated as President, 81-82, 108-109
Farm equipment, a discussion of equipment that might have been used
on the farm of, 34-35
farmer, as a, 47-51, 52, 57-58
Haberdashery business of, discussed, 66-68
and drawings in Havre, Montana, 22-29
Mason, as a, 60-61, 66
Missouri National Guard, as a member of, 44
physical strength of, a discussion of, 44
policy of, 100
political career of, 39
road overseer, as a, 40
and Vivian Truman, 12-14, 44-45
Truman, John Anderson, 7-8, 9, 10,
16, 22, 25, 26,
27, 30, 39, 40,
44, 50, 69, 70
Truman, Mary Jane, 8, 11, 12,
18, 20, 21, 37,
65, 66, 70
Truman, Vivian, 6, 7-8, 11,
22, 37, 61, 70,
75, 77, 88, 96
Union of Soviet Socialists Republics, 84, 85,
United Nations, 93, 98
University Bank, 59
Waldron, Missouri, 1, 28
Washer, Charles, 33
Whitely, Abner, 2, 3, 5-6
Whitten, Rex, 108
Wyrick, Logan, 59
Young, Edward, 22, 24
Young, Harrison, 17-18
Young, Harriet, 35-36, 37, 38
Young, Harrison, 36-37
Young, Solomon, 36
[Top of the Page | Notices
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| Appendix | List of Subjects Discussed]