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The Real Thing

June 2024
1min read

Like those life-size cardboard effigies people pose with at amusement parks, the firmly erect figure in the center of this photo seems almost too real to be true. But it is indeed Harry Truman, stopping to greet a family of visitors to his Independence, Missouri, library. As Dennis Cropper, of Radford, Virginia, explains: “In May of 1960, when I was in the seventh grade, my parents took me out of school for a brief vacation, and with my dad’s Aunt Pearl we went to Independence, Missouri, to visit the new library built to house President Harry S. Truman’s papers. I kept asking if we would get to see the former President, but my family was not too optimistic. Dad said, ‘He’s probably not there, and if he were, we wouldn’t be able to see him.’

“We arrived at the Truman Library and made the usual tour. I recall being somewhat bored by the displays and thinking, ‘It sure would be great if we got to see him.’ As we were leaving we got to talking with the security guard at the door. He told us his name was Sergeant Story. During our conversation I told him how keen I was to meet the President. To the surprise of all of us, Sergeant Story said Mr. Truman was in and that he’d ask if the President had time for us.

We were the only ones in the library, for it was a work and school day.

“When the guard returned, he said that ‘Mr. President’ would be glad to see us in his office. We were escorted in, and Mr. Truman greeted us, spending about ten minutes talking with us and showing us around. He said his office was decorated and arranged just as it had been in the White House. We then asked if we could get a photo with him, and he very cordially agreed. The picture, taken by Sergeant Story (we have another one of the sergeant), includes my father, me, President Truman, my mother, and my great-aunt Pearl.

“What a thrill to meet the President and then be able to prove it with a photo to all my friends at school.”

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