Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

Everyone says that President Harry S. Truman is the person who said this excellent quote, so I thought he must have been a really good person who liked dogs a lot and had a whole big pack of them in the White House.  But I was shocked to learn that he didn't have any dogs at all!  I can't really explain why this is true, because Mr. Truman was from Missouri, and that should mean that he was the kind of man who would love dogs, but I guess he didn't.  Mom says that you can be a good person and still not like dogs, but I think she might be lying about this.

Anyway, I will go ahead and tell you some stuff about Mr. Truman, just because I went to all the trouble to do some in-depth research on him.  And what I learned was that he was born on a farm and mostly grew up there, but he didn't really want to be a farmer, so when World War I started, he joined the Army and was an artillery officer.  At the end of the war, he married a woman named Bess Wallace.  He had been in love with her for a long time, but she said she didn't want to marry a farmer.  But now that Mr. Truman wasn't a farmer anymore, she married him.  Later on, they had a daughter, and her name was Margaret.

Mr. Truman did a whole bunch of different stuff before he got to be president.  He and Mrs. Truman lived in a big white house in Independence, Missouri, and now it's like a museum, and you can go on a tour inside it, which Mom has done.  But back in the early days, Mr. Truman wasn't famous and neither was his house.  For a while, he and a friend had a store that sold hats and other things for men to wear.  Then later he was a county commissioner, but I'm not sure what that is.  And after that, he got elected to the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Truman was in the Senate for several years, and then he ended up being the vice-president.  The president was named Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he had been the president for many years, and he was getting kind of old and sick.  Then one day he just suddenly died, and Mr. Truman became the president.

So the Truman family moved into the White House in Washington, but they did not have a First Dog, which was a very sad state of affairs.  Then at Christmastime in 1947, a woman from Missouri sent Mr. Truman a cocker spaniel puppy as a gift.  And the puppy's name was Feller.  But Mr. Truman did not want a dog, so he gave the puppy away to the White House doctor.  This made a lot of people angry, and they said that President Truman was "anti-canine," which it seems to me like he was, too, but Mr. Truman did not really care what people thought about this important issue.

Then later on, the Postmaster General wanted to give Margaret an Irish setter puppy, and Mr. Truman let her have it.  Margaret named this puppy Mike because it was a good Irish name.  But Mike was kind of wild and crazy, like puppies are, and even after he grew up some, he was still that way, so he was always getting into trouble.  And the White House guards kept feeding Mike candy, and that made him sick with rickets.  So after he got well again, the Trumans gave him to a family that lived on a farm in Virginia.

After Mr. Truman stopped being the president, he and Mrs. Truman went back to Independence to live in the white house there, and that's where they lived until they died.  Mr. Truman used to like to go out for a walk every day, but he didn't have a dog to go walking with him, and this is very sad, if you want my opinion.

Some people have done a bunch of research on the quote about how if you want a friend in Washington, you should get a dog.  But they can't find anything to prove that Mr. Truman really said that, so probably he didn't.  It seemed like the kind of thing he might say, though.   But here's a real quote that he did say, and I like it a lot:  "Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day."

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