Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Oral History Interview with
Esther M. Grube

Friend of the Truman family in Grandview; daughter of Leslie C. Hall who threshed grain on the Truman farm; member of Mary Jane Truman's Sunday School class; elementary schoolteacher; and member of Order of Eastern Star.

Grandview, Missouri
February 4, 1981
by Niel Johnson

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]


NOTICE
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

RESTRICTIONS
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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 October, 1981
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]



Oral History Interview with
Esther M. Grube

Grandview, Missouri
February 4, 1981
by Niel Johnson

 

[1]

JOHNSON: Mrs. Grube, I'm going to start by asking you about your own background. Would you tell us when and where you were born and what your parents' names were?

GRUBE: Now you do need when?

JOHNSON: I guess we do.

GRUBE: I was born in Independence, Missouri in 1903, April the 4th.

JOHNSON: Your parents' names?

GRUBE: My mother's name was Martha Elizabeth and my

 

[2]

father's name was Leslie C. Hall.

JOHNSON: We've already talked to your younger sister, Ruby Jane.

GRUBE: That's right.

JOHNSON: She did tell us who the members of your family are. But maybe just very quickly, we could again have the names of your brothers and sisters.

GRUBE: My older sisters were Miss Ella Hall, and Mrs. Lena Peffer, and Mrs. Madge See; they are all deceased. And there is my younger sister, Miss Ruby Jane Hall, who lives here in Grandview.

JOHNSON: Was "Madge'' short for Margaret, or was Madge the given name?

GRUBE: That was just her name. Her husband was from western Kansas, at Scott City. She was teaching school out there and met him. Among my brothers, my older brothers are Stanley Hall, Cecil Hall, William Hall, and Hobart Hall, who are all deceased.

 

[3]

JOHNSON: So you and Ruby Jane are the only surviving children?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Perhaps we can get into this right away. Do you recall the first time that you met any of the Trumans?

GRUBE: Frankly, it just seems that I've known them all my life, and I can't say when the first time was.

JOHNSON: Your parents had moved into Grandview here...

GRUBE: In 1907.

JOHNSON: So you were what, three or four years old?

GRUBE: Four years old.

JOHNSON: Of course, that was about the time that Harry Truman moved to the farm. Did you ever visit out there at the farm when you were a youngster?

GRUBE: Oh, yes, and after I was older also. I suppose what really brought the two families together was

 

[4]

that my father started the first feed mill that was here, and in those days the farmers would bring their grain into the mill, the corn to be ground and the wheat and oats to be taken care of.

JOHNSON: Do you recall if it was wheat or oats or both that the Trumans grew? Do you have any recollection of what they grew out there?

GRUBE: I believe it was all three. I'm quite sure they had corn, and I know wheat.

JOHNSON: How about oats?

GRUBE: Probably oats; those were the three main farm crops around here at that time.

JOHNSON: Of course, oats were needed for the horses, I suppose. That was a feed for the horses wasn't it, besides corn?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: So your father ground both wheat and oats?

GRUBE: And he also would grind corn and make cornmeal.

 

[5]

JOHNSON: Did he sell that in bulk, or did he package it for retail?

GRUBE: That, I don't know, but I think the farmers took it back home and did whatever they wanted with it.

JOHNSON: So he didn't retail it through stores?

GRUBE: No. He did sell coal, along with the milling.

JOHNSON: So undoubtedly your family got acquainted with the Trumans very early there, right after you moved here in fact.

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Do you have any recollection at all of visiting with the Trumans, let's say before World War I? In World War I Harry Truman goes into the Army and then he moves to Independence, so he left the farm in 1917.

GRUBE: Well, I have been out there on occasions when Miss Mary Truman would have her Sunday School class out there.

 

[6]

JOHNSON: That was around 1916, would you say?

GRUBE: Yes. Probably, it seems like to me, it was earlier than that when I was in her Sunday School class.

JOHNSON: Do you remember if Harry Truman was out on the farm when you visited there? Was he around? Do you recall seeing him?

GRUBE: Oh yes, I recall seeing Harry there and I recall him coming to our house to visit with my brothers.

JOHNSON: While he was still a farmer?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Mr. Truman got a Stafford car about 1913. Prior to that I guess it was all buggy and carriage or getting on the train and going to Kansas City.

GRUBE: I do remember this, he driving that car. He and Mary Jane, his sister, was with him; and they

 

[7]

would come up and get my sister, Miss Ella Hall, and go to Eastern Star meetings.

JOHNSON: In the old Stafford car that he owned?

GRUBE: Yes; that was about 1914 or '15.

JOHNSON: So you do remember him and Mary Jane riding in that Stafford car?

GRUBE: I remember seeing them get into a car at our place.

JOHNSON: Where were you living at that time?

GRUBE: Right up here on the corner of High Grove and Eighth, on the southeast corner.

JOHNSON: They came to get Ella, your older sister?

GRUBE: That's right.

JOHNSON: And then what would they do; where would they go probably?

GRUBE: It seems they went to Kansas City to an Eastern

 

[8]

Star meeting. Our lodge out here was formed about that time, and Harry Truman was the first Worthy Patron.

JOHNSON: The year 1914 was when his father died, John Anderson Truman. Do you have any recollection at all of his father or what kind of a person he was?

GRUBE: In stature, if memory serves me right, he was more like Vivian. He was shorter than Harry and maybe just a little heavier.

JOHNSON: After his father died, Harry Truman took over as road overseer. He also was designated the Postmaster and apparently your older sister, Ella, did the work and got the pay. Do you recall anything that Ella had to say about working under Mr. Truman in the Post Office?

GRUBE: She always seemed to enjoy going to work.

JOHNSON: How long did she work for the Post Office?

GRUBE: That, I'm not sure.

JOHNSON: Do you remember anything about Mr. Truman's

 

[9]

involvement in the Farm Bureau or 4-H Clubs, anything about that?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: We were mentioning leisure time activities. We mentioned them picking up your sister to go to an Eastern Star meeting. What were other things they would do?

GRUBE: I remember one thing. My brother, William -- we called him Willie -- when he was in the First World War, he went to camp and then he came home for a little vacation just before they shipped him overseas. I think the whole town came to a party that we had up here on the lawn, and Harry Truman and Bess Wallace came out to the party.

JOHNSON: This was on the lawn of your home, the front lawn?

GRUBE: Yes, the front lawn of the home up here.

JOHNSON: Did you keep a diary?

 

[10]

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: Do you have any letters that might say anything about the Trumans?

GRUBE: Well, I have

JOHNSON: I see you have some pictures here and you have some kind of a book that's got a wooden cover to it.

GRUBE: This is a book of our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. When President Truman was President he sent us a congratulation telegram. It was May 1949.

JOHNSON: You have a telegram from President Truman. Yes, that's a real keepsake all right. Do you have anything else Mr. Truman wrote to you?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: We have a couple of pictures here, two or three pictures I see. There's a snapshot...

GRUBE: Of his mother, Martha Truman, and his

 

[11]

sister, Miss Mary Jane Truman.

JOHNSON: Where was this taken?

GRUBE: When they were living up here on High Grove.

JOHNSON: Oh, I see, this is probably in the back yard of the house there.

GRUBE: Yes. And that was when he was President.

JOHNSON: Do you have a year or a date on here?

GRUBE: No, I don't.

JOHNSON: Could we borrow this and copy it?

GRUBE: Would you be sure and bring it back?

JOHNSON: Oh yes. Do you have a negative for this?

GRUBE: No. I could have, but I've lost it.

JOHNSON: Well, if we can borrow that we'll make a copy negative.

GRUBE: And that's Mrs. Truman, the President's mother,

 

[12]

and my daughter, Willena Grube, and Mary Jane. We called her Sissie -- Willena that is, and that's Mrs. Truman.

JOHNSON: When was your daughter born?

GRUBE: She was born in 1930.

JOHNSON: Okay, 1930, and she looks like she could be, what, 16 years old here?

GRUBE: She was about 16, yes.

JOHNSON: So we're talking about 1946, thereabouts?

GRUBE: Yes, about 1946. Those were all taken at the same time.

JOHNSON: The same time. Okay, if I can borrow these we'll make copy negatives and I'll get them back to you.

GRUBE: Now you be sure and bring them back.

JOHNSON: Right. You have a large photograph here I see.

 

[13]

GRUBE: That's the wedding picture of my older daughter, Betty Jane. We had the two daughters, and this is Miss Mary Jane Truman who played the wedding march.

JOHNSON: Oh yes. And this was in what church?

GRUBE: The Baptist Church of Grandview, when it was up here on the corner of Main and Grandview Roads. And this is Reverend [Welbern] Bowman.

JOHNSON: Yes, may we copy that too?

GRUBE: Now you are being sure and bringing these back aren't you?

JOHNSON: Sure. I know you value them and so we will take very, very good care of them. I've got four items here to return to you.

GRUBE: This was something that Mary Jane wrote to me to use for a meeting when we were down in St. Louis, a Grand Chapter meeting.

JOHNSON: Well, maybe we can look at it again a little bit later. So you were rather well-acquainted with

 

[14]

the Trumans before he left the farm in 1917. Are there any other incidents, or events of that period that you can think of before we move away from it?

GRUBE: I don't know just when it was, but I remember Mary Jane riding a horse with side saddle.

JOHNSON: Out on the farm?

GRUBE: Yes, she would ride it uptown to...

JOHNSON: She rode side saddle uptown on the horse from the farm? That was about a mile, wasn't it?

GRUBE: Yes; what do they call it? It was iron gray. I remember it was a pretty horse.

JOHNSON: And this was her main way of getting into town, unless she took a carriage?

GRUBE: She just rode horseback for a change.

JOHNSON: But if she came into town to get something, they would have brought a buggy I suppose, at lest before they had the Stafford car.

GRUBE: Yes. And if she drove the Stafford car, I don't

 

[15]

remember, but in all probability she did.

JOHNSON: Perhaps all the photographs that have been taken of the Stafford car are available, but do you know of anyone that would have any pictures from that very early period?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: Now you knew Mrs. Martha Truman, Mr. Truman's mother, rather well, didn't you?

GRUBE: Yes, she was a very candid woman, a very lovely person.

JOHNSON: Do you remember any of your conversations with her?

GRUBE: Well, I remember one that was rather late. I was up there visiting her, and I got up to come home and she said, "Well, Esther, there's one thing; I always hope Mary and the Hall girls will be friends." We always were.

JOHNSON: This was kind of late in her life?

 

[16]

GRUBE: Yes, it was while they lived up here, and it wasn't too many years before she passed away.

JOHNSON: You went to school here in Grandview?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: How about high school?

GRUBE: No, I went to a high school in Kansas City; I went to Central.

JOHNSON: What did you do after high school?

GRUBE: Taught school; I went to Warrensburg to college.

JOHNSON: What did you teach?

GRUBE: Raytown. I taught the grades; I taught sixth grade mostly.

JOHNSON: For how many years?

GRUBE: I taught two years before we were married, and then I taught and substituted altogether to make about twenty-five or thirty years.

 

[17]

JOHNSON: You were married in what year?

GRUBE: In '24. It would have been 57 years this May.

JOHNSON: So you substitute-taught mainly in Raytown?

GRUBE: And in Grandview.

JOHNSON: Were you teacher to any of Vivian's children?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: Do you remember Mr. Truman coming back to Grandview after he had gone into the Army, and had been in the war in France? He came back in 1919. Do you recall him visiting back here in Grandview?

GRUBE: No. The only thing I recall about him here in Grandview was when he came back the whole town had a big reception for him, and I gave a reading -- Colonel Ruby D. Garrett and myself, and I forget who sang.

JOHNSON: This was a reception for Harry Truman, or was it for a group?

 

[18]

GRUBE: It was for all of the boys, but it was mainly for Harry Truman.

JOHNSON: Was he the only officer from Grandview that had served in the Army?

GRUBE: I can't say.

JOHNSON: Did he kind of stand out?

GRUBE: Yes, and everybody loved him. Yes, he stood out. And see, when I said Ruby D. Garrett, he was a colonel.

JOHNSON: Where was the program held?

GRUBE: It was held up here on Main Street and Eighth.

JOHNSON: Was that out in the open or in a building?

GRUBE: It was in the open. They had a stage built.

JOHNSON: I wonder if anybody ever took any pictures of that?

GRUBE: I don't know, but it was a lovely thing.

 

[19]

JOHNSON: You'd think somebody would have taken a photograph of it, but you don't know of any?

GRUBE: I don't. know of any.

JOHNSON: Did you get a chance to talk to him then?

GRUBE: Yes, I sat between him and Colonel Garrett, so I thought I was something. I wasn't too old at that time.

JOHNSON: Do you remember any of your conversations with Harry Truman?

GRUBE: Well, the main thing that I remember was them saying they enjoyed my reading very much, and Colonel Garrett said he hoped I'd follow that.

JOHNSON: What kind of a reading did you give? Do you still have it, what you read?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Was it a poem or a little verse?

GRUBE: No, it was quite a long reading. Its title is "Over the Hill Tonight, Boys."

 

[20]

JOHNSON: Did you save it?

GRUBE: I did, but I don't know where it is now. That's been a long time ago.

JOHNSON: Was Bess Truman there at that reception?

GRUBE: If she was I don't remember, but undoubtedly she must have been.

JOHNSON: Perhaps I should have said Bess Wallace. Were they married yet?

GRUBE: Not at that time; I don't believe they were.

JOHNSON: So it was probably just before they got married. Anything else you can remember about that celebration up there?

GRUBE: It seemed like it was more people than I had ever seen in my whole life. I also remember the parade that they had downtown in Kansas City for the soldiers.

JOHNSON: Did they have a parade here in Grandview down Main Street that you can recall?

 

[21]

GRUBE: Not that I know of.

JOHNSON: Okay, then he marries. Did you, attend the wedding?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: You said that he did stand out among the local people. In what ways did he stand out at that time? How did they view Mr. Truman in this area?

GRUBE: He was a person that everybody liked, but in those days everybody liked everybody.

JOHNSON: How about his reputation as a farmer? He was supposed to be rather businesslike and scientific, with conservation, and purebred stock and so on. Do you recall him being known as an outstanding, or above average farmer?

GRUBE: I tell you I really don't.

JOHNSON: Do you remember your father ever talking about doing business with the Trumans, about how much business he did with them?

 

[22]

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: Your father of course had the threshing machine.

GRUBE: Yes sir.

JOHNSON: Before we look at the threshing machine, this is a picture that shows Mr. Truman on a cultivator; have you ever seen this picture before?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: Do you remember any of the equipment that was on the Truman farm?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: We are trying to identify the kinds of equipment he would have used.

GRUBE: At that time I didn't have any idea of how scientific he was farming or anything.

 

[23]

JOHNSON: Do you have any idea where he would have bought that equipment? Was there a local implement dealer that he possibly could have bought equipment from?

GRUBE: I don't believe so here in Grandview, but now then I might be mistaken. If it was, it would have been Mrs. [Hannah Clements] Montgomery's father, who had the hardware store.

JOHNSON: But that's the closest thing to a farm implement dealer in town that you can recall?

GRUBE: Yes. I can recall my dad going down to what he called the west bottoms to get machinery parts for the separator, and the engine and things like that.

JOHNSON: This was in Kansas City, in the west bottoms?

GRUBE: Yes. And I imagine that's where most of the farmers went.

JOHNSON: How about Hickman Mills? Was there a farm implement dealer over there?

GRUBE: No.

 

[24]

JOHNSON: Mrs. Grube is looking at the two photographs that we have of the L.C. Hall threshing machine, and these two were taken apparently on the Truman farm. Do you have any information on them as to when they were taken?

GRUBE: Not the slightest.

JOHNSON: Do you remember your father ever talking about these photographs, or referring to them in any way?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: When did you first see them? Did he hang them up in his office?

GRUBE: Well, I guess I have just seen them laying around all my life.

JOHNSON: In the family album?

GRUBE: Yes, in the desk.

JOHNSON: How about the photographs your father had in the desk? Do you know where those are?

GRUBE: This looks like one of them, and I don't know

 

[25]

where you got it.

JOHNSON: There might have been others too?

GRUBE: Well, there's a different one; there's one of the mill up in City Hall.

JOHNSON: I think I've seen that picture.

These apparently were taken the same time, but from different vantage points. Is that the way you understand it?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Do you remember your father threshing out here on the Truman farm? Do you know where it might have been located, where they did their threshing?

GRUBE: No. I'll tell you, he had so many, and he was always saying he was going to thresh so and so today.

JOHNSON: In the photograph are telephone wires that probably follow Grandview Road, Was that Grandview

 

[26]

Road that flanks the west side of the Truman farm?

GRUBE: Of course Grandview Road's altogether a different layout now, because Blue Ridge didn't cut through there then. Blue Ridge cut through between the cemetery and the house.

JOHNSON: Did they close off the old Grandview Road when that happened?

GRUBE: No. It is still Grandview Road, only they just begin up here farther and went through. And I understood the purpose of that was so they wouldn't have to get out and open the gate, and go right by the cemetery up to the house. When Harry was presiding judge of the county that road was put through then, and it was a very good idea.

JOHNSON: It was an extension of Blue Ridge Road and it was called Blue Ridge Extension?

GRUBE: Yes; you know it was extended out here, and it used to go down from Raytown on down into Swope

 

[27]

Park, down by the Lagoon. Instead, they cut it to the east.

JOHNSON: And the story that you heard was that it came through the Truman farm at that angle for what reason?

GRUBE: So that there would be a road between the cemetery and the Truman home.

JOHNSON: So they wouldn't have to go by the cemetery every time they went out the lane to the road?

GRUBE: Yes. Doesn't that seem quite logical?

JOHNSON: Maybe so. You just don't want to go past the cemetery every day.

It's been said that the county did not pay for any right-of-way on these roads that were built, or new roads.

GRUBE: That was my understanding.

JOHNSON: And the Trumans didn't get any pay for any right-of-way. Did any farmers, as far as you know, get paid for any right-of-way for that road

 

[28]

building program?

GRUBE: You know I can't remember the farms that they went through, but I don't think they did. There were the Feelands and the Slaughters on that Blue Ridge Extension.

JOHNSON: And so far as you know they did not get paid?

GRUBE: I didn't know anything about it really.

JOHNSON: Did you ever have any picnics, or attend any picnics or parties out at the Truman farm?

GRUBE: Yes sir.

JOHNSON: When was the first one? Do you recall when that might have been?

GRUBE: The first one could have been about probably 1914, '15, when Mary Jane was Sunday School teacher. I don't know what the occasion was later in life; the last one was before I was married, but nearly everyone in Grandview went out there to a dinner. Everybody took a covered dish of something.

 

[29]

JOHNSON: Was this kind of a community or a church affair?

GRUBE: I rather think it was community, because I can remember persons there who did not belong to the church. Some of them belonged to the Methodist Church.

JOHNSON: This was a summer picnic?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: And this was before 1924, before you were married?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Was that among the maples out there, the maple grove?

GRUBE: No, we went in the house.

JOHNSON: Oh, in the house? How could they accommodate all those people?

GRUBE: Well, I guess it was just handier for everyone

 

[30]

to be in the house.

JOHNSON: Do you recall the interior of the house?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Do you remember the kitchen in that house, the kinds of stoves or the kinds of furnishings in the kitchen, for instance? Did they have an old wood stove?

GRUBE: It was quite a large room. They had a wood stove that would burn coal, whichever you would want to use...

JOHNSON: With a reservoir on the side for water?

GRUBE: Yes. And then I remember a kitchen table and it seems like it was covered with zinc. It was kind of like tin; that's a work table. In the northeast corner was a door that went into the dining room, and in the dining room was a large desk. I remember that.

JOHNSON: What kind of a desk?

 

[31]

GRUBE: I'm quite sure it was a roll top. Over to the southeast corner of that room was a living room door. It was just kind of one-room like. Between the living room and dining room were the steps upstairs.

JOHNSON: You mentioned some of the kitchen furniture, and things in the kitchen. Did they have a cistern and a pump and sink in the kitchen, do you recall?

GRUBE: I can't remember where the cistern or where the well was.

JOHNSON: Did they have any soft water?

GRUBE: I don't recall.

JOHNSON: Did they have a sink in the kitchen anywhere that you can recall?

GRUBE: I don't remember.

JOHNSON: Well, they're going to try to restore the house and I suppose there will be an attempt to put in furniture that resembled what was there, if they can't find any originals.

 

[32]

Anything else about the house that you can recall?

GRUBE: There was the shed where Mary kept her car in the early years.

JOHNSON: The garage?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Is that the one that is there now?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Do you know the background of that building? Was that the old Post Office here in Grandview?

GRUBE: I don't know that.

JOHNSON: It's got wallpaper in it, old wallpaper, and Mr. [Sterling] Goddard says that was once the old Post Office Building here in Grandview, or part of it at least.

GRUBE: And then the barn was kind of on out.

 

[33]

JOHNSON: The barn burned down. Are there any other buildings that are no longer there that you can recall that once were there? Was there a chicken house?

GRUBE: Evidently there had to be, but I don't remember, because everybody -- even people here in town -- had chickens.

JOHNSON: Do you know the whereabouts of anything that might have been used on that farm; furnishings or farm equipment, or implements of any sort? Cream cans?

GRUBE: No. If you could have asked me these questions probably 55 years ago I could have served you much better.

JOHNSON: Yes, time has passed and that's right, it's a little late, but we're trying to get what we can.

GRUBE: At that time who of us would have ever realized that he would become President of the United States?

 

[34]

JOHNSON: But on the other hand, you say that he did stand out among the local farmers, his personality...

GRUBE: To the people in town, he was just the man among men, that's all.

JOHNSON: He was considered rather intelligent I suppose and businesslike?

GRUBE: Very intelligent and extremely friendly; he was very nice and considerate of everyone.

JOHNSON: Did you know any of the hired men that worked for the Trumans on the farm?

GRUBE: Yes. Henry Paustian; he's dead now.

JOHNSON: Did he ever talk about his work out there that you recall?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: Did he live in the house that Vivian Truman lived in before he built this house up here on Blue Ridge Extension? On Monday, Mr. [George T.]

 

[35]

Holt and I were looking at the site of the house that Vivian Truman had lived in. And he said there was farm equipment out there at one time. We didn't find it, but...

GRUBE: Now just where was it located?

JOHNSON: That was beyond the railroad tracks.

GRUBE: It evidently must have been in the same house.

JOHNSON: Probably was, but it had been torn down. We could tell that there had been a house there, or something there, at one time.

GRUBE: It wasn't too large.

JOHNSON: There was another tenant house over where the Truman Corners shopping center is now, but that was moved.

Do you remember anything about the farm sale in 1919? Do you remember there was a farm sale where they sold their stock and equipment, a lot of their equipment, after Harry decided he was not going to farm any longer?

 

[36]

GRUBE: I don't remember the sale.

JOHNSON: You don't remember anybody that might have purchased anything at that sale?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: So you were teaching, and you had to pass inspection with the county superintendent?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Well, they probably were pretty strict about that sort of thing. You had to prove your capabilities.

You mentioned being out there to attend first of all a Sunday School class party, and then a community dinner, or community picnic out there. How about any other occasions when you were out on the Truman farm? Do you recall any other particular occasion?

GRUBE: Not in particular. We would just go out and a lot of times I would drive my older sister out. See, she was nearer their age, Miss Mary Jane's age, than I was.

 

[37]

JOHNSON: I see. When did your mother die?

GRUBE: 1911.

JOHNSON: Do you remember Harry Truman visiting the farm in the twenties and the thirties? Was he ever out there when you were there?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: Before he became President do you remember him visiting Grandview?

GRUBE: Oh, yes. Every time he would come home. I remember when he was Vice President, the first time that he was up in the Masonic hall to Eastern Star meeting one night. It was shortly after he became Vice President.

JOHNSON: Their installation. I think I have a picture of that.

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Yes, now this is the one that you're talking about, I believe, right here. This is the 1945

 

[38]

officers.

GRUBE: I have another.

JOHNSON: Do you have another picture?

GRUBE: Oh, yes.

JOHNSON: There are a couple more photographs here that we will copy and return to Mrs. Grube.

Getting back to the subject of visits that Harry Truman made back here to Grandview, you've mentioned this visit to install Eastern Star officers in late 1944 for the 1945 officers. What time of year did they do this?

GRUBE: Well, it was generally done before the first of the following year. Most generally it was done in December.

JOHNSON: So this was probably December of 1944?

GRUBE: Yes. Does it say '44?

JOHNSON: Well, we don't have a date on this, but we

 

[39]

gathered that probably it was December.

GRUBE: That's Ruby there.

JOHNSON: Yes, it sure is.

Did you get a chance then to visit with Mr. Truman?

GRUBE: There's no question I did, because I don't think he'd ever come out without visiting. Here I was standing right next to him, and I remember he said, "Take ahold of my arm."

I said, "Oh, Harry, I can't, I got a little Bible here."

.And he said, "Let me put it in my pocket."

JOHNSON: So he had your little Bible in his pocket here in this picture?

GRUBE: Yes, right in his pocket.

JOHNSON: Well, I'm glad to have those identifications too, along with Regna's [Vanatta].

You had seen him before he came back in '44

 

[40]

as Vice President I suppose. Had he visited out here when he was Senator, do you recall?

GRUBE: Oh, yes. He was always real good at visiting his mother and a lot of times the rest of us would see him.

JOHNSON: Would he come to church once in awhile with Mary Jane that you recall?

GRUBE: I don't recall.

JOHNSON: Then this incident when he was Vice President, of course, stands out in your memory.

GRUBE: He was President when that last one was taken.

JOHNSON Well, actually he was Vice President-elect because he didn't become Vice President until January of 1945.

GRUBE: That one, yes, but the other picture is much later.

JOHNSON: Yes; then he was President.

GRUBE: He was President then, because the dress that

 

[41]

Mary Jane has on is the dress she wore to the ball.

JOHNSON: Oh, the inaugural ball in 1949?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: When did you first see him after he became President of the United States?

GRUBE: I just don't recall that, but I recall seeing him a number of times up there when his mother was sick in bed.

JOHNSON: That was in 1947 when he was out here a couple of weeks. That's the time that you remember well?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: And you got a chance to talk to him then?

GRUBE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Do you remember what you would talk about?

GRUBE: I really can't remember the words, but I assume it was just the usual conversation that you would hold in an occasion like that, when

 

[42]

someone is quite ill.

JOHNSON: His mother died in July of 1947. Did you attend the funeral?

GRUBE: No. To my knowledge I don't know of anyone who did, but the family. Reverend Bowman held the service.

JOHNSON: And then he came out to dedicate the new church building. Were you there in the audience?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: Any other times you got to talk to Mr. Truman after he came out here to see his mother when she was ill? Did you get to talk to him after that at any time?

GRUBE: I suppose that I did, but I just don't remember the occasion.

JOHNSON: Did you get to the Library after he left the Presidency, and did you see him in his office in the Truman Library?

 

[43]

GRUBE: No. No.

JOHNSON: Did you visit him in Washington when he was President?

GRUBE: No.

JOHNSON: When he was here to visit his mother when she was ill, that was the last time that you may have had a chance to talk to him at any length. Is that correct?

GRUBE: I believe that it is.

JOHNSON: Is there anything else that you can think of before we conclude? Any incidents, anecdotes, stories, that have come to you from any source, concerning or pertaining to the Trumans, anything that we haven't mentioned thus far?

GRUBE: I don't believe that I do.

JOHNSON: Did you meet Bess Truman?

GRUBE: Oh, yes, she was at our house before they were married, in our home up here on the corner.

 

[44]

JOHNSON: Did you get to see her after that at all?

GRUBE: No, I didn't.

JOHNSON: Maybe as a final topic to consider, perhaps you could tell us just a little bit about your impressions of Mrs. Martha Truman, Harry Truman's mother.

GRUBE: Well, I think she was one of the loveliest ladies anyone could ever hope to meet. What she said she meant, and if she didn't mean it she didn't say it. She was very candid about what she said.

JOHNSON: What did she have strong feelings about in particular? Do you recall what she especially had strong feelings about? Did you ever hear her talk about the Red Legs from the Civil War period, or about the Civil War at all?

GRUBE: No, no.

JOHNSON: How about politics? Did you ever hear her talk about politics?

 

[45]

GRUBE: One time I heard her say -- this isn't politics -- but we had known them for a long time. My brother moved out into Kansas and he had been living out there just quite a long while, and he was ill, and she said to me, "Tell Hobart I said he had better get out of Kansas and get back to Missouri before Kansas kills him."

JOHNSON: She still remembered the Kansas Red Legs didn't she?

It's said that she subscribed to the Congressional Record and kept up with what the Congress was doing, debating, talking about. Do you remember ever seeing the Congressional Record over there at her house?

GRUBE: Yes; she was a very learned woman.

JOHNSON: She did keep up on world events?

GRUBE: Yes, she did.

JOHNSON: Did she ever talk to you about world events, or the problems that her son, as President, had to face?

 

[46]

GRUBE: She just felt like he could take care of it.

JOHNSON: After he became President rather suddenly and you know, to the shock of many people, do you recall the first time you saw his mother, and what kind of reactions she had to that?

GRUBE: No I don't.

JOHNSON: But she always seemed to have a great deal of confidence in his ability to handle those problems?

GRUBE: Oh, yes, she was very proud of him.

JOHNSON: Did she ever say what she thought was the strongest characteristics, or what were the strongest features about his personality? Did she ever venture anything in particular, except that she was proud of him? She also said she was proud of the others in the family, didn't she?

GRUBE: Oh yes, and Vivian was a very fine man; all of the family was very fine.

JOHNSON: Well, he was certainly influenced strongly

 

[47]

by his mother's example, and no doubt by her personality. Would you say they were quite a bit alike? Did you see quite a few things in common between Harry Truman and his mother?

GRUBE: I think so.

JOHNSON: Their personalities were quite similar, do you think?

GRUBE: Yes, I really think so.

JOHNSON: Once they had made up their minds...

GRUBE: It was made up.

JOHNSON: And once they thought they had done the right thing, they went ahead and didn't worry about the criticism apparently.

GRUBE: I don't think they ever did anything but what they were quite sure it was the right thing. And most usually it was.

JOHNSON: Well, he certainly has that reputation. Anything

 

[48]

else now before we conclude, any other comments that you would like to leave with us?

GRUBE: I don't believe so, only that I'm just proud to say that I was counted among their friends, and I was proud for them to be my friends.

JOHNSON: It's good to look back on that isn't it?

GRUBE: Yes, it is.

JOHNSON: Thank you; we appreciate it.

Before we finish up, Mrs. Grube mentioned an anecdote, an incident, involving Harry Truman and the father of Gaylon Babcock, and her own father, Mr. Hall. So I'll ask you to repeat what you told me just a few minutes ago.

GRUBE: With some reservation.

Mr. Truman, President Truman's father, and Mr. Babcock, and my father, were up here in Grandview talking and it happened to be a Presidential year, just which one now has slipped my mind. But anyway, it was a Republican and a Democrat arguing

 

[49]

which man was the better. And they were getting a little...

JOHNSON: Hot under the collar?

GRUBE: Yes. And my dad was Republican but was a friend of the Trumans, and Babcocks were friends; they were all friends. And he just reached over and took Mr. Babcock and Mr. Truman by the collar and said, "Now look here, men, if those men who are running for President would come walking up the street, they wouldn't know you from anyone." And he said, "Why do you want to argue about them?"

JOHNSON: And they had been friends for a long time. That ended the argument?

GRUBE: That ended the argument.

JOHNSON: You say your father was a big man?

GRUBE: They were both rather short, according to my dad, and he was a big man, tall. My dad just thought the argument had gone far enough.

 

[50]

JOHNSON: Well, that's interesting. I'm glad we got it on the record.

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List of Subjects Discussed

    Babcock, Gaylon, 48
    Blue Ridge Boulevard, Jackson County, Mo., 26
    Bowman, Welbern, 13, 42

    Congressional Record, 45

    Eastern Star, Order of, 7-8, 9, 13, 37-39

    Garrett, Ruby D., 17, 18, 19
    Goddard, Sterling, 32
    Grandview, Missouri:

      Baptist Church, 13
      picnic at Truman family farm, 28-29
      Post Office building, old, 32
      Truman family farm, 3-6, 14, 22-25, 30-33, 35-36
      Truman family farmhouse, 30-32
      Truman, Harry S., reception for at end of WW II, 17-20
    Grandview Road, 26
    Grube, Esther M., background, 1-3, 16-17
    Grube, Willena, 12

    Hall, Betty Jane, 13
    Hall, Cecil, 2
    Hall, Ella, 2, 7, 8
    Hall, Hobart, 2, 45
    Hall, Leslie C., 2, 4, 5, 21, 22, 24, 25, 48-49
    Hall, Martha E., 1
    Hall, Ruby Jane, 2, 3
    Hall, Stanley, 2
    Hall, William, 2, 9
    Holt, George T., 34-35

    Jackson County, Missouri, road building program in, 26-28

    Montgomery, Hannah Clements, 23

    Pausian, Henry, 34
    Peffer, Lena, 2

    Scott City, Kansas, 2
    See, Madge, 2

    Truman, Bess Wallace, 9, 20, 43-44
    Truman, Harry S.:

      Eastern Star installation at Grandview, Mo., 1944, present for, 37-39
      farmer, as a , 21-23
      Grandview, Mo., reception for at end of WW II, 17-20
      Grube, Esther, congratulates on 25th Wedding Anniversary, 10
      Grube, Esther, first acquaintance with, 3
      Grube, Esther, visits with, 37-43
      Postmaster of Grandview, Mo., 8
      Stafford car, ownership of, 6-7, 14-15
    Truman, John Anderson, 8, 48-49
    Truman, Martha Ellen, 10, 11, 15-16, 41, 42, 44-47
    Truman, Mary Jane, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14-15, 28, 41
    Truman, Vivian, 8, 34-35, 46

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