Oral History Interview with
Former receptionist for the Truman Committee and secretary to Associate Chief Counsel Charles Patrick Clark and later secretary to Chief Counsel Hugh Fulton, 1941-43.
Mrs. Walter (Shirley Key) Hehmeyer
April 16, 1969
by J. R. Fuchs
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
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. ) within the transcript indicate
the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the 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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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, 1970
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
Mrs. Walter (Shirley Key) Hehmeyer
April 16, 1969
by J. R. Fuchs
FUCHS: Mrs. Hehmeyer, I wonder if you would start
out by telling a little of your background. You might give us your maiden
name and any other particulars. I don't want to ask you for your age,
but where you were born, I guess would be all right. We'd like your age.
HEHMEYER: Well, I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and I was the seventh
person hired on the Truman Committee. There was just Charles Patrick Clark,
and Matt Connelly, and Peter Ansberry, and I'm trying to think of -- it
was such a small staff.
A girl named Marge Ebey was the other secretary. And I was hired as Charlie
Clark's receptionist and secretary to work in room 317. The only other
room the Committee had at that point was downstairs in the basement of
the Old Senate Office Building.
FUCHS: How did you happen to come to be in Washington?
HEHMEYER: I lived in Washington, I moved to Washington when I was twelve
years old and I grew up in Washington. I went to Western High School in
Georgetown, and then I went to George Washington University, and then
I went to Temple Business School. And after I had been to business school
I had a job in the Interior Department, and one day Marge Ebey called
me on the phone and asked me if I would be interested in coming down to
work for a committee that was just being formed in the Senate under the
direction of Senator Truman and that's how I heard about the job.
FUCHS: How did you happen to know Marge Ebey?
HEHMEYER: She was just a friend of mine I had known in high school.
FUCHS: I see.
HEHMEYER: She has since remarried and I don't know her name now. I went
down and talked to Mr. Clark and he hired me and that started the big
adventure of the Truman Committee. Of course, Hugh Fulton was there at
that time as the Chief Counsel. I didn't meet him for awhile, because
he was out of town when I first arrived. My main job was to greet people
when they came in and take them around the Senate Office Building and
show them how to get to the different offices. Take them to Senator Truman's
office. Then the stenographic pool grew to be quite large, I guess there
must have been twenty-five girls; and eventually I was put in charge of
the stenographic staff. And after I had had that job for, oh, perhaps
nine months, Mr. Hugh Fulton came down one day and asked me if I would
be interested in becoming his secretary, and I very much was, and took
that job. And that was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.
I couldn't have done it without the girl that worked in the office with
me, her name was Marion Toomey. Her father had been a law professor at
Georgetown University and Marion herself was a lawyer, which was very
unusual at that time because there weren't as many girls going to law
school then as there are now. Marion was an enormous help to me. I took
shorthand but I had no confidence that I could do Hugh Fulton's work,
because he had had a legal secretary working for him that had come to
Washington with him from Cravath, deGersdoff, Swain, and Wood, a law firm
in New York.
FUCHS: Who was that?
HEHMEYER: I don't recall her name. His office, incidentally, was up on
the fourth floor and I just didn't have the occasion to go up there to
talk to her too much. I just didn't know her too well.
FUCHS: And you took her place?
HEHMEYER: I took her place.
FUCHS: Why did she leave?
HEHMEYER: I think that she went back to New York City. As I recall that's
the reason that she went back. But Marion, instead of taking straight
shorthand, worked a stenotype machine. So, the first few weeks I was there
when Mr. Fulton would dictate, Marion -- his office was just one large
room and our section of the office was separated from his section with
bookcases. They were rather tall,
five and a half feet I'd say -- but Marion would sit on the other side
of these bookcases and take in stenotype what I was taking in shorthand,
which was very kind of her; so that when Hugh Fulton stopped I would race
out there and transcribe and Marion could then check my work with what
she had taken. I don't know if you could find another friend like that
FUCHS: Did Hugh Fulton know what you were doing?
HEHMEYER: No, never. Never.
FUCHS: She was then in part a secretary and in part a staff investigator?
HEHMEYER: Yes, she was, and a lovely girl. She married and has several
children and I -- unfortunately this all came up so suddenly I don't have
time to -- I just can't recall her married name. But she was a fine person.
Of course, as the weeks went on
I became more confident and she didn’t have to help me so much.
A lot of it was lack of confidence.
FUCHS: What was your name then?
HEHMEYER: Shirley Key.
FUCHS: Now Miss Toomey was on the staff from May '41 to October '44,
according to our records. Do you recall any particular investigations
that she served on?
HEHMEYER: No, I don't. I was just a legal secretary and a secretary to
Mr. Hugh Fulton, and also still a receptionist. A lot of people came to
room 449 before they would go down to the hearing room -- to the caucus
room. And I would receive them and, again, if they wanted a cup of coffee,
take them to the Senate restaurant and see that they were made comfortable
and put at ease before they went before the Truman Committee hearings.
FUCHS: Who were some of the people that you...
HEHMEYER: Well, I recall one interesting case was with Henry J. Kaiser.
He had come in the office and sat there very nicely and quietly, and I
finally said, "Well, I'm sure Mr. Fulton will be ready to see you
shortly, but would you put your name on this card and I'll take it in
to him." Again, just around the bookcase I would show him a card
so that he could hurry up whatever interview he was engaged in. So he
wrote his name on this card "Henry J. Kaiser." I thought that
was so funny. He had been so nice about waiting. But there were many others.
There was Forrestal, from the Navy and there was Mr. Andrew Higgins from
New Orleans, the shipbuilder, and -- I can't recall that -- anyone that
was going before the Truman Committee usually came to these rooms first,
just for a short briefing and to put them at ease.
FUCHS: This was his procedure to generally talk with
those who were going to be...
HEHMEYER: I can't say that they always came, but I think that as a general
procedure they did, just as an introduction; of course, not always, but
a lot of times they did.
FUCHS: Did many of the other Committee members, Senators come into Fulton's
HEHMEYER: Yes, they did. Oh, I remember so well, Senator [Mon C.] Wallgren
would come in. He was such a nice Senator from the State of Washington.
Senator [James M.] Mead would come in and Senator Tom Connally would wander
in every now and then; and, of course, Senator Truman didn't come in too
often because Hugh Fulton would go to his office, they were on the phone
all the time. Senator Truman was always so polite on the phone. Never
demanding and very courteous always. I'm trying to think of some of the
other Senators -- Senator [Harley M.]
Kilgore would come in and out, from West Virginia.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything in particular -- any anecdotes about any
of these Senators?
HEHMEYER: No, not really. The whole atmosphere was one of -- well, it
was a very serious committee because they were investigating the war effort,
but I was very young at the time so that I didn't recognize all the seriousness
of it, and instead it took on a very glamorous atmosphere. I thought being
around all of these glamorous people was exciting and it was, because
they were powerful people that you would read about them quoted in the
newspaper every day and then they would wander in and out of the office.
And then, also, it was a tremendously stimulating experience to work for
Hugh Fulton because he was a very smart man. At the time I thought he
was an old man and I think that he was thirty-five or thirty-six. And
-- but he would come to the office
at -- sometimes 4 o'clock in the morning, and often at five, and never
later than seven. He was a very early riser and worker.
FUCHS: What were your hours?
HEHMEYER: Oh, Marion and I got there, as I recall we got there at 8:30
and stayed until 5:00. I think that's correct.
FUCHS: So he was generally there when you got there.
HEHMEYER: Oh, always.
FUCHS: I see.
HEHMEYER: He worked very early in the morning and then he worked late
hours in the evening. He was an extremely hard worker. He took time off
on the weekends; I know someone once questioned about the fact that he
would leave sometimes on Thursday to go to New Jersey where he had his
farm in Flemington.
But he had to have some time with Mrs. Fulton and he said that he couldn't
see that -- he wasn't one to go from 8:30 to 5:00 and say that the job
had to be done from 8:30 to 5:00. If he wanted to do it at 4:30 in the
morning, he would do it then and take off what time he felt that it was
necessary to spend with Mrs. Fulton. I often had the feeling that she
wasn't happy in Washington because the Committee took so much of his time,
and then all of the Washington social life -- Jessie was a retiring person
and shy, and she loved their farm in Flemington and loved all their friends.
She was very hospitable to all of the people on the Truman Committee and
entertained them many times, but she just never really seemed happy in
Washington. She and Hugh Fulton were on the campaign with Truman and Mrs.
Truman in 1948, I guess it was. She was very unhappy then.
FUCHS: Who was?
HEHMEYER: Mrs. Fulton.
FUCHS: '48 presidential or the '44 vice-presidential campaign?
HEHMEYER: Well, I'm not real clear, maybe it was the 1944 vice-presidential
campaign, perhaps that was it. I believe -- that probably was, but she
came back very unhappy because she felt -- sometimes she felt that maybe
Hugh was being used, his -- that he wasn't being recognized for the brain
that he was. She was very loyal to him. But this is something that happens
in Washington over and over and over and I'm sure the more sophisticated
people are the more they adjust to it, and now through the years the wives
have become more educated to what Washington is all about and I don't
imagine they have these feelings.
FUCHS: Where did they live in Washington?
HEHMEYER: They lived in an apartment on Sixteenth Street. I've forgotten
the exact address. It was a small apartment, it was a lovely apartment.
Jessie had exquisite taste and their farm she had decorated so beautifully.
FUCHS: You visited the farm?
HEHMEYER: Yes, oh yes. They entertained so many of us, they'd have us
up there for the weekend. They had no children so they were very generous
about -- they had built a home on that farm, I guess in about 1936 or
'37. Apparently it was a lovely home and it burned and it burned to the
ground because they only had a volunteer fire department in Flemington,
New Jersey. And when the fire department arrived they didn't have any
of the facilities to put the fire out. After the house burned to the ground,
Jessie and Hugh were two very crestfallen people. We didn't know them
but we -- they told us about it. Well, sort of as a present to Jessie,
Hugh decided that the foundation of that home could be used to make a
lovely swimming pool. So when he first came to work for the Truman Committee
he was engaged in this process of having, over the distance by mail and
by telephone, and the telephone service to Flemington was just terrible,
getting this pool built. And finally they did and, again, in 1941, there
weren't too many people with private swimming pools. Do you think? I don't
FUCHS: No, I doubt if there were.
HEHMEYER: There weren't many in Washington, particularly in a remote
area. Of course, Flemington, New Jersey is not far from Bucks County;
it's beautiful country. So, Hugh thought to make Jessie happy they would
start rebuilding the farm. And this is what they did, and she threw her
Yesterday morning on television there was a -- or maybe it was this morning,
pictures of the needlework that Mary Martin had done and that Mrs. Richard
Rogers had done, and a lot of other famous ladies. Well, Jessie Fulton
was doing this back in 1941 and all through the war years she did needlework
and crewel work. Beautiful knitting and hand work of all kinds, she made
beautiful draperies. She was interested in these things, and when she
traveled to Europe she always came back with interesting pieces of material
you know and different things of this sort. She was very artistic and
very talented. And when she was in Washington again she would make herself
busy with these sort of things. But the social side of Washington was
totally unappealing to her.
FUCHS: Where was she from originally, now?
HEHMEYER: She was from New York. She was from Staten Island.
FUCHS: Staten Island.
HEHMEYER: Yes, and grew up there. And Hugh Fulton was from the state
of Michigan I believe.
FUCHS: They met in New York?
HEHMEYER: They met in Staten Island, As I recall, she said that when
he went to work for the law firm that I mentioned before -- it's such
a long name -- Cravath I'll call it, he rented a room from them and that's
how they met, and then they got married and were a very close couple.
FUCHS: Is she still living?
HEHMEYER: Yes she is. And I heard from Jessie up until just about three
years ago and then we sort of lost touch. At that time she was having
pictures taken so that she could sell their place
in Flemington and perhaps they did, I just don't know, But Hugh Fulton
himself was -- it was the first time that I had been introduced to a man
who was totally driven by desire for work. It couldn't have been ambition
because I don't think that his salary was very big at that time. He later
became a wealthy man through his efforts. But he drove himself to -- because
of his -- he was so absorbed with the work of the Truman Committee and
hero worshipped Mr. Truman. He thought he was one of the finest men he
had ever known and spoke of this very openly, He was not a person that
could have been devious in any sense, so when he spoke of Mr. Truman he
did it -- you could tell he really -- it was deep admiration he had for
him. And Mr. Truman's opinion meant a lot to him. He wanted his respect
so he worked all the harder to please him. They had a very mutual, fine
relationship in that they both respected each other's talent
though they were so different.
FUCHS: What was your first impression of Hugh Fulton? Do you recall?
HEHMEYER: My first impression of him was that I was frightened of him
because I -- I wasn't as at ease with him as I was with Senator Truman.
Senator Truman was sort of like, one way to express it -- home folks.
But Hugh Fulton had a very northern accent from Michigan and he was so
business-like, and so -- he was so eager to please him and get everything
done exactly right, and I was a little overwhelmed by him, But I found
that you could make a mistake and live through it so that was that. I
recall one time he had -- I don't recall what position that Mr. Adolph
Berle held at this time, but it was an important one and he was working
late with Mr. Fulton, and they were working on a joint project for Mr.
Truman one evening
and working very late. Mr. Fulton asked me if I would send across the
street to Carroll Arms and get them a sandwich and bring in. So I said
that I would be delighted. I went across the street and got the sandwiches,
and brought them back and Mr. Fulton always thought it was very funny
I brought ham, because Mr. Berle was, I gather, an Orthodox Jew. So, I
say that you could make mistakes and live through them.
FUCHS: Did you frequently work late?
HEHMEYER: Yes, at the time I wasn't married, of course it didn't matter.
And everyone was caught up in the excitement of the work of the Truman
Committee. And working late became sort of an excitement, too. We often
went down to run off things on the mimeograph machine. It was an old-fashioned
one but the whole staff would work. We'd all work down in the basement
together getting reports out
or whatever it was that Senator Truman though, should be done.
FUCHS: What was this machine that was available to the…
HEHMEYER: An old mimeograph machines yes.
FUCHS: …to anyone in the Senate?
HEHMEYER: I believe the Truman Committee, we had our own in the Truman
Committee room, and now I've forgotten the number of that room, but it
was down in the basement of the Old Senate Office Building. But Matt Connelly,
and Hugh Fulton himself, would come down and help stuff envelopes. Everybody
pitched in if we happened to have a very large job to get out. Matt helped
many times and Herb Maletz, we all worked together, Franklin Parks and
Mr. [Harold G.] Robinson and Walter Hehmeyer, we all worked. And there
was a girl on the staff named
Laura Mayo and a girl named Shirley Ferron, we all worked late and we
all -- I don't recall anyone ever complaining about it. I guess that it
was because of the excitement of the times that we lived in, and working
in the Senate Office Building. And working with the particular group of
men we worked with because they inspired you to want to work hard. After
I got married I didn't work for the Truman Committee. We thought it wouldn't
be wise for a husband and wife to work like that.
FUCHS: When was that?
HEHMEYER: That was February the 13th, 1943.
FUCHS: 1943. Where did you go then?
HEHMEYER: Well, then I stayed home for awhile. Then I got a job with
the American Can Company and I was never happy after that, because the
Truman Committee had spoiled me so. Then for awhile I
worked for the War Advertising Council that was formed during the war
to protect the advertising industry from the Government taking it over,
They got all, of the advertising companies to come and contribute their
talents, but they had different slogans. You may recall "Woman power
has gone to work," or something of this sort. "Lucky Strike
green has gone to war," those things. So the different executives
from the different ad companies would come to this War Advertising Council
in Washington, contribute their time and effort to the war effort and,
therefore, the Government didn't ever infringe on any of their private
industry, and I think it too is still in existence.
HESS: Who was the head of it?
HEHMEYER: Mr. Theodore Repplier. He had come with them from Young and
Rubicam. And he was a very fine man, but again, any unhappiness I had
was not his fault, it was mine. I was spoiled by the excitement of the
Senate Office Building. You can't work there and then easily adjust to
working somewhere else. There just isn't the same excitement.
FUCHS: Yes. Were there other persons in the immediate office of Hugh
Fulton -- that suite, besides you and Miss Toomey?
HEHMEYER: No, there was just Marion Toomey and Hugh Fulton and myself.
FUCHS: Did you have any direct relationship with Mr. Truman while there
HEHMEYER: Very little. I called him on the phone every day when he was
in town. I often had contact with Mildred Dryden or some of the other
girls in his office. I would take messages back and forth from Mr. Fulton
to Mr. Truman. But Mr.
Truman, as I say, he would talk mostly to Mr. Fulton on the phone or Mr.
Fulton would go to his office.
HEHMEYER: And that's where they spent most of the time together.
FUCHS: Did you know Victor Messall?
HEHMEYER: Yes, but not well.
FUCHS: Not well. Did you ever hear that he had a pipeline into Mr. Truman's
HEHMEYER: No. No, refresh my memory on Victor Messall.
FUCHS: Victor Messall went with Mr. Truman when he was elected in 1934,
and became his -- now you'd call him an administrative assistant. Of course,
Miss Dryden was secretary in the stenographer sense. But Victor Messall
then served with Mr. Truman.
He had been with Congressman Frank Lee in Missouri.
HEHMEYER: Did he have sort of a plump face? I think so.
FUCHS: Well, I'm not good at describing people. He had more of an oval
type face, dark; but he served with Mr. Truman and was very active in
the 1940 renomination campaign for Mr. Truman and directed that and went
to the office, I believe, in Sedalia and worked on that; and then he left
Mr. Truman and went into public relations, and, I guess, became what some
would call a five percenter.
HEHMEYER: No, I wouldn't know.
FUCHS: And this was right after Mr. Truman was re-elected as Senator.
HEHMEYER: I see. No, I didn't know much about -- I
wouldn't know anything about that.
HEHMEYER: I knew a side of Mr. Truman that perhaps was more of an impression
than firsthand knowledge, but I always was impressed with how sweet he
was to Mrs. Truman. He was so conscious that -- for instance if she wanted
to take a ride, he would leave his office and take her for a ride. If
he was going to have people home for dinner he would always call her and
notify her of this and he was always joking about the "boss,"
calling Mrs. Truman the "boss." They seemed to have such a fine
FUCHS: Was she in the office from time to time?
HEHMEYER: She would come in from time to time. She'd come by and pick
him up to take him for a ride at lunch time.
FUCHS: I see. At lunch time?
HEHMEYER: Yes, they liked to go for a ride at noon. At least as I recall
it, that's when they took a ride; and then she was -- I just always had
the impression that Mrs. Truman came first and her happiness was very
important to him. That wasn't true of all of the Senators on the Hill.
FUCHS: You wouldn't care to name names would you?
HEHMEYER: No, I wouldn't.
FUCHS: Were you ever entertained by the Trumans?
HEHMEYER: No, not other than just they had something for the whole Truman
FUCHS: Did they have several affairs like that?
HEHMEYER: I'm trying to think, there was a Truman Committee party, but
I don't think it was at the
Trumans. I can’t remember -- I do remember where it was, but I'd
just as soon not comment on it, I don't remember too many details.
FUCHS: All, right. Now, you saw Hugh Fulton and his wife socially. Was
this just after you were married?
HEHMEYER: My mother entertained Mr. and Mrs. Fulton in our home, and
then Mr. and Mrs. Fulton entertained me in their home and Marion Toomey,
also, and all of the Truman Committee. They had us all over. They had
a small apartment so they didn't have us all at the same time, but they
would have different groups over. They didn't discriminate, they were
very generous in their entertaining. Has anyone spoken to you about Bill
Boyle and Mrs. Boyle?
FUCHS: I would be happy to have anything that you
might add about...
HEHMEYER: He was close to Mr. Truman.
FUCHS: Was he entertained by Hugh Fulton?
HEHMEYER: Oh, now I don't recall whether he was or not. I recall one
party where Bill Boyle was there and Mrs. Boyle and I know he was very
close to Senator Truman.
HEHMEYER: And he had such a nice wife also, Mrs. Boyle. She was just
a lovely lady. I always thought she was so pretty. You realize I was young
at the time and I still have more impressions than knowledge, but I always
felt that he was more of a politician than a knowledgeable man, as I thought
Mr. Fulton was. But Mr. Boyle was such a pleasant person, he must have
been a very good politician.
FUCHS: What about...
HEHMEYER: I guess that it takes both.
FUCHS: Yes, that's right, Matthew Connelly, do you have any recollection
that might be of interest about him?
HEHMEYER: Oh, yes, I liked Matt Connelly very much. He was one of the
first people that I met when I went to work there and he had a way of
putting the secretary -- he was friendly and he was charming to people
and he tried to put people at ease. Particularly the girls that came there
to work if they were going to be frightened by taking dictation from the
Chief Counsel or one of the other lawyers, There was a Mr. Henry Stix
that was there when I went there also. I had forgotten that.
FUCHS: What was his position?
HEHMEYER: He was an investigator. And he was there when I went there,
And I remember when Matthew Connelly introduced me to him and I was supposed
to take dictation from him one day I was just really scared. He had the
same sort of a -- what's the word I want -- not mysterious, but the same
personality that Dean Rusk had, he didn't reveal himself. You wanted to
do your best for him but he wasn't very communicative. But Matt was the
one that would say, "Well, you've been called to the stenographic
pool to take dictation and don't let it worry you, be at ease, it'll all
work out all right." You always knew what they were writing about
was very important so you wanted to get it right. Matt was a friendly
man and he worked very hard, I often wonder if people know how hard he
really worked. He was working not only on the investigative side, but
he seemed to me he was always at a go-between in helping people get
along, if there was any dissension among the staff members it would be
Matt who would try to alleviate any of this tension. He was a very likeable
FUCHS: Did you know his wife?
HEHMEYER: Yes, I did.
FUCHS: Was she living in Washington?
HEHMEYER: Yes, she did. I think her name was Doris Connelly. I had the
feeling that she too had gotten a little bewildered by some of the time
that the Committee demanded of her husband, and small wonder. Were I now
in the same position, that Walter would have a position that demanded
that much of his time I'm not too sure that I would be happy about it.
But the work was interesting, the work was consuming, and the work was
important, and I often felt sorry for the wives that were unhappy sometimes
with this. Understandable now.
FUCHS: Have you any impressions of Charles Patrick Clark?
HEHMEYER: Yes, I thought he had a dual personality. He could be very
likeable, but he could be very unkind. He was an egotist and he -- I felt
always that he was acting a role, acting a part. He was so impressed with
the name Charles Patrick Clark and he wanted to be sure you got it spelled
correctly and that you put the Patrick in there and that you knew exactly
who it was. He was a dandy; and he was far more interested in Charles
Patrick Clark than he was in Senator Truman, I thought. When I first went
to work for him it used to amuse me that he had more flourishes and fanfare
than the Senator did as far as receiving and making telephone calls. I
would have to announce him no matter whom I called, and that used to sort
of amuse me. Senator Truman would just pick up the phone himself and call.
But Charles Patrick
Clark was a controversial man. I was always stunned that he became so
close, I heard, to Franco I think or the Spanish government, wasn't it,
and made such a quite a lot of money as a representative in Washington?
HEHMEYER: I'll always be bewildered how he did that because he wasn't
basically what I would call an intelligent man. He was a flamboyant person
and he was -- I guess men would understand him, I didn't.
FUCHS: You didn't feel that there was enough substance there?
HEHMEYER: No. He should have been an actor. He acted a role. He would
have looked good in a top hat and a cape with a cane, and step into a
carriage with eight horses. He needed all the accouterments of a grand
entrance and a grand person. He should have been a Count or a Duke. And
he would have
been marvelous at the intrigue in some palace. This was his forte. But
I always felt that he was miscast in the role of working for Senator Truman.
I always wondered how he got there.
FUCHS: Do you feel that he did a service for the Committee?
HEHMEYER: Well, obviously the people that ran the Committee thought so
and I as a secretary couldn't really be a judge of that. But as a girl
and a grown lady, I still say he was a very mixed up man. He would strut.
Senator Truman would walk into the hearing room; Charles Patrick Clark
would have to be announced. We all knew that he was there. He had everything
but the trumpets.
FUCHS: Very good. Have you any recollections of Rudolph Halley?
HEHMEYER: Oh, yes. I liked Rudy Halley very much and his wife Grace.
And they had small children at that
time when they lived in Washington. Rudy was a very ambitious man and
just as bright, you couldn't ask for a brighter young man. He was -- again
at the time I thought Rudy was old -- he must have been thirty-two or
three. I don't know how old he was. He was very young and very bright.
It was a pleasure to -- it was educational to sit in a room and listen
to that man's mind work, or to take dictation from him, or to see him
get a problem and try to solve it. He was an interesting man. He was,
as I say, ambitious, though, and obvious to me, so, he must have been
ambitious if it was obvious to me, because I wasn't thinking, as I say,
in those terms. And again, such a hard worker. Hours meant nothing to
Rudy. He would work and work. and work and when everybody had left he
would still be working. And again, got there early in the morning. Totally
dedicated to his position with the Committee and its function.
FUCHS: I guess George Meader didn't come until after you had left?
HEHMEYER: Oh, I knew George Meader.
FUCHS: Oh, you knew George Meader?
HEHMEYER: Yes, now I don't know if George was on the Committee or I met
them socially, George and his wife, through the Fultons. George Meader
was also from Michigan, and he and his wife, of course, knew the Fultons;
and I don't really know how I knew George Meader, maybe we saw them socially
after I left the Committee. I guess that he was a friend of Walter's.
I did know George Meader.
FUCHS: He joined the Committee on July 1, 1943.
HEHMEYER: Oh, well, that was after I had left. So I knew him through
Walter, because I still went to all of the social gatherings of the Truman
Committee with Walter, because I married a Truman Committee member, Walter
FUCHS: Do you remember your first meeting with him?
HEHMEYER: Yes, I do, He had come to be interviewed for a position and
he came in the office and I asked him if -- at the time Hugh Fulton was
busy and couldn't see him. So, I asked if he would please take a walk
around the Capitol and do a little sightseeing and come back, because
Mr. Fulton was just too busy to see him. So he said, well he'd already
been sightseeing, but he'd be glad to take another walk, So he did, and
that's how I met Walter, And then we were married in 1943.
FUCHS: Now do you have any other recollections of any of the Committee
members or staff members?
HEHMEYER: Not really. I remember with great affection my experience working
with Miss Marion Toomey
because, as I say, through the years I realize that you don't meet many
friends like that and she was such a marvelous friend, such a bright person
and so smart. I remember a girl that worked in the stenographic pool by
the name of Laura Mayo that I liked so much and she worked so hard, so
long, such long hours. Never complained. And I made other friends. I remember
Herb Maletz, it was the first time I had worked with a person like Herb's
temperament and I found him to be a charming person to work with and to
know. And Frank Parks, another of the investigators, and Bob Irvin, and
Robby Robinson, and all of them -- they were just such nice people to
work with. I recall the first time I took dictation from Robby Robinson,
I was in the stenographic pool and he asked me to come take a report on
the San Luis Obispo Dam in California, and we had worked until about 6
o'clock and I sat and transcribed the whole thing; and I
was ready to go home and Mr. Robinson said, "Miss Key, you'll have
And I said, "Why?"
He said, "How do you spell dam?"
I said, "d-a-m-n."
And he said, "We'll have to run this through again." So, we
finally got it done and got it out with dam spelled correctly. But I've
never forgotten it.
FUCHS: You called him...
HEHMEYER: Robby. His name was Harold Robinson, but everybody called him
Robby. He had been an investigator with the FBI, and a delightful person.
His wife's name was Charlotte, Charlotte also was just as sweet as she
could be. We saw them in California when we were there.
All the people of the Truman Committee, because of the excitement, because
of the assemblage
of all these minds that were working together, it was a very pleasant
FUCHS: Was Mr. Robinson a great admirer of Mr. Truman?
HEHMEYER: Yes, very much so.
FUCHS: Were there any...
HEHMEYER: I don’t recall anyone on the Committee ever criticizing
Mr. Truman. If they did it I never heard it. I just don't believe they
would have done that.
FUCHS: Did you ever discuss with Hugh Fulton or Mrs. Fulton, perhaps
even after his death, about the situation when Mr. Truman became President
and Mr. Fulton wasn't given a position?
HEHMEYER: I did, but I would rather not comment on it.
MR. HEHMEYER: Honey, you're wanted on the phone.
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
List of Subjects Discussed
American Can Company, 23
Ansberry, Peter, 1
Berle, Adolph, 19, 21
Boyle, William, 30-31
Boyle, Mrs. William, 30-31
Clark, Charles Patrick, 1, 2, 3
a discussion of the personality of, 35-37
Connally, Senator Tom, 9
Connelly, Matthew J., 1, 22, 32,
Connelly, Mrs. Matthew (Doris), 34
Cravath, deGersdoff, Swain, and Wood, 4, 17
Dryden, Mildred, 25, 26
Ebey, Marge, 1, 2-3
Ferron, Shirley, 23
Flemington, New Jersey, 11, 12,
13, 14, 15, 18
Forrestal, James, 8
Franco, Francisco, 36
Fulton, Hugh, 3, 8, 9,
10-11, 17, 25,
26, 30, 31, 39,
and the farm in Flemington, New Jersey, 11, 12,
Fulton, Mrs. Hugh (Jessie), 12-13, 14,
30, 39, 43
Hehmeyer, Mrs. Walter, as secretary for, 4-7, 10-12,
George Washington University, 2, 4
Halley, Rudolph, 37-38
Halley, Mrs. Rudolph Grace), 37
Hehmeyer, Walter, 22, 40
Hehmeyer, Mrs. Walter (Shirley Key):
background of, 1-3
Higgins, Andrew, 8
and Fulton, Hugh, 4-7, 10-12, 21
marriage of, 23
as secretary, 4-7, 10-12, 21
and Toomey, Marion, 4, 5-6
Interior Department, 2
Irvin, Bob, 41
Kaiser, Henry J., 8
Key, Shirley, 7
Kilgore, Harley M., 9-10
Lee, Frank, 27
Louisville, Kentucky, 1
Maletz, Herbert N., 22, 41
Martin, Mary, 16
Mays, Laura, 23, 41
Mead, Senator James M., 9
Meader, George, 39
Messall, Victor, 26
Michigan, 17, 19, 39
New Orleans, Louisiana, 8
New York, New York, 4, 5, 17
Parks, Franklin, 22, 41
Presidential election campaign of 1944, 13
Repplier, Theodore, 24
Robertson, Charlotte, 42
Robinson, Harold G., 22, 41-42,
Rogers, Mrs. Richard, 16
Rusk, Dean, 33
San Luis Obispo Dam, 41
Sedalia, Missouri, 27
Staten Island, New York, 17
Stix, Henry, 32-33
Temple Business School, 2
Toomey, Marion, 4, 5-6, 11,
25, 30, 40
Truman, Harry S., 2, 9, 12,
18, 19, 22, 25,
26, 27, 31, 35,
and Truman, Mrs. Harry S. (Bess), 28-29
Truman, Mrs. Harry S. (Bess), 12, 28-29
Truman Committee, 12, 18, 21,
22-23, 29, 30, 37,
Wallgren, Senator Mon C., 9
Wax Advertising Council, 24
Washington, D.C., 2
Young and Rubicam, 24
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