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Edgar C. Faris, Jr. Oral History Interview

Edgar Faris

Oral History Interview with
Edgar C. "Bud" Faris, Jr.

Secretary to Senator Harry S. Truman, 1935-38.

Los Angeles, California
March 8, 1971
by J. R. Fuchs


[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 Faris 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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 April, 1975
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

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



Oral History Interview with
Edgar C. "Bud" Faris, Jr.

Los Angeles, California
March 8, 1971
by J. R. Fuchs
[1]

FUCHS: Mr. Faris, I wonder if you would start this interview by giving me a little of your background, when and where you were born, something about your family, and then your jobs before you went into Mr. Truman's office when he became Senator.

FARIS: Well, I was born Edgar C. Faris, Jr. in Kansas City, Missouri, August 24, 1908. My father was City Architect of Kansas City. I think that he was only about twenty-five or twenty-six years old, and he built the City Market in Kansas City, and most of the fire stations. He was way ahead of his time, because he put an architectural design to the fire stations. I imagine some of them are still there. They don't look exactly like a fire station, the old drab looking, you know, buildings. He changed the design to sort of fit the architecture of the setting

[2]

of where the fire station was located.

I should go back, too, to his father, my grandfather, who was James E. Faris. He was a Republican. He was chairman of the Board of Public Works in Kansas City under old Mayor Darius Brown. My father was rather a strong-headed, strong-willed man, and he didn't like the Republican Party so he became a Democrat. He had known Tom Pendergast for a good many years, along with all the other politicians in Kansas City, because Kansas City was not too large a city in those days. I imagine there were two hundred and fifty or three hundred thousand people.

He built the City Market, as I said (I'm repeating myself), and then having known Tom Pendergast, he had designed Tom Pendergast's first home out in the Country Club district, I believe it was on Fifty-fifth Street and I might add that Tom Pendergast never paid him for the architectural work. I think my dad almost supervised the building of it, so I guess Pendergast figured that he paid him off by having -- I don't know whether Pendergast made him City Architect, I don't believe he did. I don't really know how my father became City Architect of Kansas City.

[3]

FUCHS: I wonder why Pendergast didn't pay him? They must have had some sort of a contract.

FARIS: Well, they did, but I think Pendergast was notorious for that sort of an operation at that time. But I never really did go into the details because I was young, and that was the least of my interests, whether Tom Pendergast had paid my father. As long as I got the car and the two dollars for a weekend date, why -- so, you know, you grow up in these things and actually they become commonplace to you. You know, you hear all the stories, and all the stories I have heard -- it was all hearsay, but I guess some of it was based on fact; and of course, there has been a number of books written about Pendergast and his early operations. So, I really don't see any reason for my going into that, because anything I know is just something that I had heard, you know, through the years. This is prior to my entering politics.

FUCHS: Where did you live in Kansas City?

FARIS: I lived on Warwick Boulevard in Kansas City. We had a home on Warwick and then we went to Florida, you see. We left Kansas City in 1925. My father had gone to Florida in 1921. There was a builder in Kansas City by

[4]

the name of McCandles, Guy McCandles, and Guy McCandles and my father took a trip around the United States to see what other cities were building in the way of apartment buildings, because they built homes and apartment buildings. And on this trip, they ended up in Florida, this is 1921; and my father was quite taken with Florida, so he bought some acreage there in Florida in '21. The big problem there in Florida was the palmettos, they grew wild there like a scrub palm, and the question was how to get rid of the palmetto to clear the land. There was a man by the name of Carl Fisher, who had invented the presto light for the first automobiles, it had a tank on the side and you went out front to the lamp to light them. Do you remember those lights?

FUCHS: Vaguely. I remember reading about them.

FARIS: You would light the headlights by turning on the gas from the presto tank. They were used in the early days on practically all automobiles. Carl Fisher had bought quite a bit of acreage on Miami Beach, and so, being an inventive type of man, he invented a plow that would plow up these palmettos with ease and cut the expense, you see, of clearing the land. So when the boom broke out in Florida in about '24, why, we moved

[5]

to Florida. So I finished high school in Miami and then I came back to Kansas City, I guess it was in the summer of 1928.

FUCHS: Did you come back with your family?

FARIS: Yes, I came back with my family.

FUCHS: They moved back?

FARIS: They had moved back to Kansas City, because the boom had stopped and my father had lost some money in Florida so we came back, but he still kept some acreage there.

FUCHS: You were about twenty then.

FARIS: Yes, in August of '28, I was twenty years old. That's when I went to Rockhurst College.

FUCHS: You entered Rockhurst, after you came back here, as a freshman.

FARIS: Yes, as a freshman, and I played football, basketball and baseball at Rockhurst. From Rockhurst I went to Missouri University.

FUCHS: Oh, you did. What year did you enter there?

[6]

FARIS: In '29.

FUCHS: In '29.

FARIS: Then from Missouri University I came back to Kansas City. I studied journalism at Missouri University.

FUCHS: Did you graduate from the School of Journalism?

FARIS: No, I left. I wanted to be a writer, I always had; that was my tendency anyway. I wrote a novel -- College Humor was the in college magazine at that time, a national magazine, that was subscribed to by all colleges, you know, all the undergraduates read it. College Humor used to have a contest every year for the undergraduates for the best novel. One of my colleagues, Thomas Cockrell, won it, and I got a mention but mine wasn't published and his was. Tom became a pretty fair writer. He later wrote for Saturday Evening Post and then he ended up in Hollywood writing screen stories. So then when I came back to Kansas City, I went to the Kansas City Journal Post as a cub reporter.

FUCHS: This would be about '31?

FARIS: Yes, about '31 or '32, I guess it was. They were

[7]

paying me $18.00 a week, so I decided that here I had been going to a university to try to learn to be a journalist and it was the wrong thing to do, because the newspaper city editors didn't want students from journalism schools in those days, the old hard-bitten city editors didn't want you to start in as a "copy boy" not from a journalism school. But I had some contacts so I got into the -- my grandfather, again, who was Chairman of the Public Works, was then a leading developer of tract homes himself, he was a builder, and from that he naturally went into the real estate business, had a real estate office in Kansas City, and he handled all the Walter S. Dickey real estate. Dickey headed the Dickey Clay Pipe Company and Dickey owned the Kansas City Journal-Post.

FUCHS: Was Charlie Ross still at the School of Journalism at that time?

FARIS: No, Walter Williams was president of the School of Journalism.

FUCHS: I believe Charlie Ross for a period, now I can't tell you what the dates were, was on the staff.

FARIS: Yes. Charlie was there, but I can't remember -- I

[8]

remember Charlie later, but actually I don't remember him being in the journalism school at that time. As a matter of fact, I can't even tell you the name of the professor now. So many thousands of names have gone through my mind in my life, you know, since then that unless I have something to recall it for me, I can't remember.

Well, anyway, I was going to make a step forward, I felt radio would pay better. I had gone to see Arthur Church, who owned KMBC in Kansas City; and Arthur and I were working out a deal for me to enter radio. Paul Henning, who now does the Beverly Hillbillies and Greenacres, and Paul was at KMBC at this time. Paul and I later met here in Hollywood. Paul had jerked sodas at the drugstore in Independence, he was from Independence.

FUCHS: You didn't know him back there?

FARIS: No, I didn't know Paul at the station. I learned this later that he was there at the same time that I was going to go with KMBC.

FUCHS: What did you do, work for the Post about two years?

[9]

Was that as a reporter?

FARIS: Yes, mostly sports. Well, I was with Parke Carroll, and Ed Cochran was the sport's editor. So, at this time, this was in '34, and I had been interested in politics anyway. At Missouri, I had helped elect the president of the class, you know, that got in, and I had worked in my precinct in Kansas City like everybody did, and worked up to the board. Otherwise, if you didn't have that experience, you didn't get anyplace in politics in Kansas City. That's where you had to start. That was good experience.

Anyway, I went to Arthur Church and we were working out a deal for my joining his staff at KMBC when Jo Zach Miller III, who was vice president of the Commerce Trust, called me one day and told me he'd like to have me meet him in his office about two o'clock, that there was somebody he wanted me to meet and talk to.

FUCHS: How did you know Jo Zach Miller?

FARIS: Well, I had known. Jo Zach through my family, I knew the Kempers, knew Billy, then Bill Kemper. My grandmother Faris was a good friend of the Kempers,

[10]

socially she was a friend of theirs. And Jo Zach -- where did I meet these people in the first place, I don't know, I knew them all. When you grow up in a town, and Kansas City being, not a tremendously large city, it was a moderate-sized city, and since they had a rather restricted, residential area, restricted in the sense of certain types of homes, certain priced homes in a certain area, and then a more expensive type, and then on out to the mansions. Well, if you lived out in that area, you knew everyone. And I lived out in that area, so, through your boyhood friends they were all connected some way, and, with either the insurance companies, the banks, or the packing houses or the railroads, so you knew all these people, I guess by induction. Well, anyway, Jo Zach I had known, my father was a good friend of Jo Zach's; so when I went to the Commerce Trust Company at two o'clock that afternoon, I was waiting there, and Mr. Truman walked in and he had just been elected Senator in the November '34 election. So, after we sat down and exchanged pleasantries and talked a few minutes, Mr. Truman asked me if I'd like to go to Washington as his secretary.

[11]

FUCHS: Did you know him at that time?

FARIS: Yes, well, I had been out to his house prior to this during the election. I had a lot of friends around the state, having gone to the university, and having been in politics in the university, and then my father was very well acquainted throughout the State of Missouri, too, and had many friends. So I had taken a list of men in various counties in Missouri and my friends also, who could help in Mr. Truman's campaign, and which they did.

FUCHS: Did you compile the list?

FARIS: No; I compiled my own list of friends that I had, and my father had a list of his friends, you know, which included county commissioners and mayors, because my father had gone with the Seagraves Fire Company, when architecture and building during the depression was so bad. He went with the Seagraves Company, they built fire engines, and in Missouri he sold fire engines around to all these, municipalities, so he knew all the politicians. So from that, there was a list that he gave me to take to Truman, plus the people that I knew from the university.

[12]

FUCHS: Did you see Mr. Truman in his home there?

FARIS: Oh, yes, 219 Delaware. Yes, I remember very well, he had on black and white shoes. He was very beautifully dressed that summer day that I went out there. He didn't have his jacket on, but he had his tie and his white shirt and his black and white shoes and he looked very dapper. As I was leaving he ran up those stairs, up two at a time, because he was in a hurry, he had a meeting, this was right during the campaign...

FUCHS: You mean the stairs to the porch?

FARIS: No, inside the house, the stairway up to the second floor. I know that I rather marveled, because I think I was only twenty-five at this time, and I marveled at a man who was at least fifty, which to me was quite elderly, who could go up stairs two at a time like he did.

FUCHS: Was there an outside stairway then?

FARIS: No, it was inside the house.

FUCHS: Oh, I see, it was just the regular stairway going to the second floor.

[13]

FARIS: Yes, the stairs going up to the second floor.

FUCHS: As you went out the door...

FARIS: Yes, he was saying goodbye, and he was going up and he was in a hurry.

FUCHS: Did you see Mrs. Truman at the time?

FARIS: Yes, she let me in, Mrs. Truman.

FUCHS: Was that the first time that you had met him?

FARIS: Yes, that was the first time I had met him.

FUCHS: Very interesting.

FARIS: Yes. Then later, of course, when I went to the house when the Wallaces were all there -- I'll have to come back to that -- but anyway, when I walked into the bank, and then the Senator-elect Truman walked in, and after pleasantries were exchanged, then he asked me if I wanted to go to Washington with him as his secretary. Well, I was, you know, looking forward to going to the radio station, that was in the back of my mind when he asked me, and so I hesitated. You know, maybe it wasn't very flattering right at that

[14]

moment, to Mr. Truman, because anybody would jump at the chance to go. But then I thought it over and I said, "Well, yes, I think it would be a great honor to go with you." So, anyway, I told him yes, I would like to go.

He said, "Well, it isn't necessary, but do you think you could get an endorsement from Mr. Pendergast?"

I said, "Well, I'm quite sure I could." Not only did I know Mr. Pendergast myself, personally, but I also knew his daughter Marceline and his son Bud, and having been at Rockhurst, and having been an athlete there, why, I knew Marceline well, and Bud Pendergast -- he went to Rockhurst too. So, I told Mr. Truman that I didn't think I'd have any trouble. So I went to Mr. Pendergast and told him what I wanted. Mr. Pendergast told me that he had recommended someone else to Mr. Truman to be his secretary. I said, "Well, I don't know anything about that, Mr. Pendergast, but all I want is your endorsement. I'd like to go back to Washington with Mr. Truman." So he sat down and wrote me an endorsement, which I took back to Mr. Truman and Mr. Truman said, "Well, that's fine. You know, that solves a lot of things."

FUCHS: Was this at his office?

[15]

FARIS: Yes, this was at his office.

FUCHS: You had been in his home before?

FARIS: Oh, yes, you know, through the kids.

FUCHS: "Bud" is Thomas?

FARIS: Tom junior. I always called him Bud. Oh, yes, and then Mr. Pendergast knew me because he followed Rockhurst athletics. There was Red McKee and John Sullivan and Vic Zahner -- and Sullivan, John Sullivan, ended up with the Ready-Mixed Concrete Company. Vic Zahner went into the City bank, they both married the Soden girls there. Again, you were thrown with everyone, so you knew everyone. That was it, and Mr. Truman told me to report to Washington on the first opportunity that I could, when I could straighten out my affairs in Kansas City.

FUCHS: Did you go see Mr. Truman when you had the endorsement?

FARIS: Oh, yes, I went out to Independence.

FUCHS: You went to his home or the courthouse?

FARIS: No, I went out to Independence and met him. Well,

[16]

I met him at the campaign headquarters and I can't remember the man. Well, anyway, I took the endorsement and I saw Canfil, that's who I saw, and he said, "Well, Mr. Truman, the Senator, will be here. You better wait around for him."

FUCHS: Where was the headquarters, do you recall?

FARIS: Oh, I couldn't even tell you where it was.

FUCHS: But that's where you did see Canfil?

FARIS: I saw Canfil there, but I think I ended up out in Independence. I saw the Senator in Independence and told him that everything was okay, that I had the endorsement from Mr. Pendergast, and so he told me, you know, to report back to Washington as soon as I could and we'd get rolling.

FUCHS: Did you know who Canfil was then? Had you seen him before?

FARIS: No, I didn't have the slightest idea who Canfil was. No, I had no contact whatsoever with Canfil.

FUCHS: Was it your impression that Mr. Truman had asked

[17]

Jo Zach Miller for a recommendation, and Miller had thought of you?

FARIS: Yes, yes. Right, because I think this is, number one, I think Mr. Truman wanted a Catholic secretary, because Pendergast was a Catholic, everybody else was Catholic in Kansas City, all the Irish, all the politicians were in Kansas City. I think that he felt that this would satisfy all the Catholics in Kansas City: Bud Faris, a former athlete at Rockhurst College, you know, a Jesuit College, I think that was part of the motivation -- and Jo Zach Miller was a Catholic, a very good Catholic, too. So I think that was the reason. I wasn't picked on my talent, although I think I had the necessary requisites that he wanted. I won't say that I was an outstanding student, but I was a good one.

FUCHS: Well, now, did he have any other staff to your knowledge at that time, that he intended to take to Washington?

FARIS: No, I think he appointed them -- really, I don't know. I believe he had. I think he had Mildred Latimer -- Mildred Dryden -- and Jane Taylor...

[18]

FUCHS: She was an Independence girl?

FARIS: No, she was from Kansas City. Jim Taylor was her father.

FUCHS: He did bring her from the area.

FARIS: Well, they were all either from Independence or Kansas City. I think Mildred and Jane Taylor had been appointed as stenographers. It's rather difficult to find out what Senator's functions were in those days. You call the Senator's secretary, a secretary, but he was really an administrative aide, which they call them now, because you didn't go in and take dictation from the Senator. You ran his office as an administrator, and the girls took all the dictation and did all the typing. There's an awful lot of work in a Senator's office. I don't think anybody realizes the work in a Senator's office.

FUCHS: Did you take the job with the understanding that you were going to be what is consonant with the administrative assistant, now -- under Mr. Truman?

FARIS: Yes, that's right. Now, when I got back to Washington, Mr. Truman told me, "Say, Bud, I think we'll take this

[19]

Vic Messall, he was Congressman Lee's secretary, and he's had a little experience in Washington, and we're both green, so it might be good for both of us." So, I welcomed it, too, because I was pretty green.

FUCHS: Did you know who Vic Messall was?

FARIS: No, I only knew that Vic Messall had been Congressman Lee's secretary, although I never heard of Vic Messall until I got to Washington and Senator Truman told me about him.

FUCHS: This was probably in January?

FARIS: This was in January, yes, right before he was sworn in. Well, I welcomed him anyway, to have a guy with some experience to teach me the ropes, because otherwise I would, you know, have to pioneer all this stuff myself. So he was a great help. Then Vic and I became very good friends.

FUCHS: Did you have a title then?

FARIS: Well, we both were secretaries to Mr. Truman. As I say, again, at that time, a Senator's secretary was making $3900 a year. Of course, Senators were only

[20]

making $10,000. After about two years, Vic was still there, and I went in one day and told Mr. Truman that, you know, "Let's get this thing straightened out, is Vic going to stay here or what?"

He said, "No, we'll get him a job someplace. We'll get him a good job."

FUCHS: You thought originally that he would just come in to get you started.

FARIS: Yes, but he stayed and stayed.

FUCHS: Was he there at a higher salary than you got?

FARIS: No, we both got the same salary. As a matter of fact, what we did, we split the two top salaries, the secretary's salary and the assistant's salary, so that instead of both of us getting $3900 a year we got $3300. Well, so, I asked Mr. Truman, "Are you going to get him a job or am I?"

He said, "Well, we'll both work on it."

Well, in the meantime, as I told you, the Supreme Court had declared the first Coal Commission Act unconstitutional, and so Congress rectified that and passed a new Coal Act and created the Bituminous Coal

[21]

Commission; so, there was a job as secretary of the Commission. That job paid the same thing as the Senator was getting. I made some inquiries about it and then went to the right people. I didn't say anything to Mr. Truman. I wanted to be sure that I could get the job. I felt certain that he would endorse me for it. So when I went back and told him that I could have this job he wanted to know why I wanted to leave him. I told him it was purely economics. I think that's exactly what I said to him. I said, "Look, I've been spending more than $3300 a year here, and I think by economic necessity I'm going to have to make a move."

He said, "Well, you stay with me. I'm going to have a committee here started, and I can add to your salary with one of these other committee salaries and we can get you up there."

FUCHS: He wasn't thinking of any particular committee at that time?

FARIS: He was, yes. This was in '38, and he was thinking -- I think he was -- he became Chairman of the Subcommittee of the Interstate Commerce Committee, and that's when he investigated the holding companies and we had

[22]

J. P. Morgan down there and his friend, the other banker with Morgan, I can't think of his name -- boy, my memory for names, isn't it awful? He was such a quiet, nice old man, as opposed to J. P. Morgan, who sat as though he were royalty with his meerschaum pipe in his mouth.

FUCHS: He was mixed up with the holding companies?

FARIS: No, he was with Morgan in the bank. He was a very well-known man, just his name escapes me. Well, anyway, it was this committee then and Truman was chairman of that subcommittee.

FUCHS: In other words, you just disregarded looking for a job for Mr. Messall?

FARIS: Yes, because I figured that, you know, "He doesn't have time to get a job for Vic Messall. How am I going to go and get Vic Messall a job?" You know? Unless the Senator said, "Vic, you've got to take this job." I didn't want to get in any hassle. By this time I liked Vic, and I figured that Vic could stay there for $3900 and I would be making about three times that much.

[23]

FUCHS: How had you been supplementing your $3300?

FARIS: My own money.

FUCHS: Savings?

FARIS: Well, money.

FUCHS: Was this reflected in any of your activities?

FARIS: Yes, it was.

FUCHS: How was that?

FARIS: Well, I lived pretty well. I had a pretty nice apartment with my own private elevator, etc.

FUCHS: Where were you living?

FARIS: I had an apartment up on Connecticut Avenue. It was in an older building, and it was a penthouse apartment. You could only get to my apartment on this elevator and it had iron bars on it, steel doors.

FUCHS: Mr. Truman was aware of this?

FARIS: As a matter of fact he had been in my apartment.

FUCHS: How had some of your other activities come to his

[24]

attention?

FARIS: Well, I had a friend who wrote a society column on the Washington Herald-Examiner, it was Sissy Patterson's paper. It was the Washington Herald-Examiner, wasn't it?

FUCHS: I guess it was. There was the Washington Post...

FARIS: Well, this was Sissy Patterson's paper. So this woman who was an older woman, a very fascinating character.

FUCHS: Who was that?

FARIS: Peter Carter was her pen name. Well, she was kind of a gay person, and she was around all...

FUCHS: Not in the modern usage?

FARIS: Oh, no, not that way, no. I mean, she was just fun. She knew all the younger set, even though she was an older woman. She had a daughter about my age and another teenage daughter. Her older daughter was just about my age. I was what, twenty-six, twenty-seven.

FUCHS: Did you date her daughter?

FARIS: Oh, yes, once in a while, you know. I didn't have any steady dates. Well, anyway, Peter used to write up

[25]

my parties in my apartment, because I gave some very nice parties. She described the apartment and all this. Then Mrs. Truman would read these things and Mr. Truman called me in one day and asked me about my social activities. Evidently Mrs. Truman had thought that my appearing in Peter Carter's column so much was giving me notoriety and that maybe it wasn't such a good thing for the Senator. So this was another reason which contributed, actually.

FUCHS: Did that upset your equanimity at that time?

FARIS: No, it didn't bother me a bit. In fact, I used to laugh about it, because I still went to Truman's house. Well, Mrs. Truman knew me pretty well, and although she disapproved of some of the things, I think she still liked me. But they'd have me out to the home at 219 North Delaware with all the Wallaces and the parties there and then of course, I babysat Margaret, and Margaret and I were pretty fair buddies, you know, she was only ten years old.

FUCHS: You babysat her?

FARIS: Yes, sure, because, as I said, I took the Trumans

[26]

to their first White House party that Roosevelt gave.

FUCHS: Where was he living at that time?

FARIS: He was living on Tilden.

FUCHS: You used to go out there and...

FARIS: I went out to Tilden and I picked them up and took them in my Packard to the White House with Margaret sitting beside me; and then we'd go home and Margaret would play the piano and sing for me. Then I'd go back and pick up the Trumans and drop them off. So, I had sort of a family relationship with them aside from being with them in the office. Then Mr. Truman and I would travel around Washington together, making appointments like when he had an appointment made with the Secretary of Commerce, or one of the Cabinet members. I often used to tease him about 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue being a very good address for him. And he'd laugh and say, "Un-huh, that's an address I never want." You know what, when I look back on this, maybe I've thought of this in later years, but you know, I had an intuition about this. I will say it: You know, I had an intuition about this man's being in the

[27]

White House. This may sound crazy, but that's why I used to kid him, because I thought maybe one day he would be. Now why I thought this, I don't know. And I think someday -- the next time I see Mr. Truman, if he can remember our conversations because we used to drive together an awful lot, and he'll remember my telling him about being in the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

FUCHS: What were your impressions of him as a boss, as a Senator, his ability, administrative ability, legislative ability?

FARIS: Well, as I started to say, you worked hard in the Senate, especially with Mr. Truman, because he would call me at five o'clock in the morning and tell me that he was going to walk for thirty-five or forty-five minutes down Connecticut Avenue and would I pick him up so that we could have breakfast together. Well, I would do this, maybe two or three, sometimes four times a week. And we'd go have breakfast and we would be in the office in the Senate at seven o'clock in the morning.

FUCHS: You mean, he would start walking south on Connecticut

[28]

and you would pick him up along the way?

FARIS: Right. And we'd go and have breakfast and we'd be in the office at seven o'clock in the morning. This man, I mean, he was tremendous in the way he worked. I mean, he studied everything, every bill that came up. I don't see how he really did it all, but he did manage it. I'd say as an administrator he was great. His memory, he had a very retentive memory. I don't think the man ever forgot anything he read, because in later years, I talked to that old librarian at Independence (I've forgotten her name now), but she told me that by the time Harry Truman was seventeen years old, he had read practically every book in that Independence library. And the man was an expert on military history. I mean, I don't think there was a greater authority in America than Mr. Truman on military history.

FUCHS: Did he like to talk with you about that?

FARIS: Oh, yes, we used to discuss Genghis Khan and Hannibal and Alexander the Great, and oh, military campaigns, and he knew the strategy, especially of the Civil War. The man is actually an expert on the Civil

[29]

War, I mean as far as historical accuracy and as an authoritarian, I'd say, on the Civil War; because he took me to Gettysburg and we stood up on those towers at Gettysburg and he explained the whole three days' battle to me. He knew all the troops' moves, how far they moved, where Longstreet didn't obey his orders and how they lost the battle. And then we'd go down through Virginia. We took that, what is it, the Skyline Drive down through Virginia, there where the Shenandoah Valley is below you. It's beautiful. Then we'd get into a discussion, we'd go to Appomattox and then we'd get into a discussion about Lee, and Lee's generalship, and what a great general Lee was, and "Stonewall" Jackson and Grant. We discussed all this, so I became, really, he educated me in the military.

FUCHS: Did he drive on these trips?

FARIS: No, I usually drove. From that respect, I don't think people realize the depth and the breadth of Mr. Truman's knowledge. I mean, just because you go to a university, and even if you get an A. B. degree, it doesn't mean anything, really. It doesn't mean that you've got a lot of knowledge; because I knew Phi Beta

[30]

Kappas tha