Oral History Interview with
Dr. Wallace H. Graham
Personal physician to President Harry S. Truman, 1945-72. As a colonel in the U.S. Army was selected by President Truman, while at Potsdam in 1945, to be his personal physician. Also served on the staff of Walter Reed Army Hospital while in Washington, and during his Service at the White House was promoted to Brigadier General. Dr. Graham, who was originally from Kansas City and returned there after completing his military service in 1953, remained the former President's physician until Truman's death in 1972.
Kansas City, Missouri
January 10, 1976
by Jerald L. Hill and William D. Stilley
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This interview was conducted by William D. Stilley and Jerald L. Hill as part of a intern and independent study project at William Jewell College in March 1976, under the direction of the Political Science Department of William Jewell College. 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 transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of William D. Stilley and Jerald L. Hill.
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
Dr. Wallace H. Graham
Kansas City, Missouri
January 10, 1976
by Jerald L. Hill and William D. Stilley
STILLEY: Dr. Graham, what were the circumstances, or what led President Truman to choose you as his personal physician?
GRAHAM: That is something difficult to answer because of the fact that I like to think that because of my acumen and ability as a doctor, naturally. I knew nothing was going on from that standpoint, as I was in service in Europe; primarily had been in England, and then on D-Day we were out in the Channel. My particular unit then went in deep
ruts, too, and into Omaha Beach. Then to Lacom, and then into various battle zones throughout the entire time in Europe. Then I was chief of surgery in an evacuation hospital all throughout combat, and then attached to the 101st Airborne troops with the British First Armoured then in Rijmegen, Holland.
The first time that I knew, actually, what was taking place was after the war was finished in Germany. We were sent down to Stuttgart, Germany where I was awaiting plans to materialize to go to Japan. I had put in for Japan; then to go down to Marseilles and then on over from that standpoint. We were all working quite diligently trying to get the wounded and the men who had been operated for shell wounds and all these casualties of war, to get them back into the States as soon as possible, or send them to England and get them evacuated out of the dangerous war zones.
So, we were in Stuttgart, and one day while I was doing physical examinations and overseeing the patients, a group of officers came to me at the bedside and they addressed themselves, and I met
them. They said that I had a plane awaiting me with A 1 priority to fly to Potsdam immediately.
Well, I hadn't really kept track of the President of the United States or anything. When you are busy and you have duties to perform, a job to do, you keep after it, and you don't really pay too much attention to what the papers say. We would get the Stars and Stripes--that was our paper of the combat zone and I just hadn't been aware of the fact any more than I heard the President was up there for a conference in Potsdam. So I negated that. I said, "I'm afraid you have the wrong man, because I'm sure that he would want an internist and an older man than I am at the present time." They looked a bit and they said, "Well, yes, we probably have." So they took off and they left and saluted, and that was it.
They came back about three days later, the lads did, and there was one of higher rank than any of them, a general officer, and so we went through the same formality again. They said, "No, you're the right one." So I knew that they had
made a mistake, or I thought they had. I asked them what kind of a plane they had and how many seats it had in it, because, see, we had been in Magdeburg north of Berlin. I had been in Berlin before the war. You see, I was there as a resident surgeon after graduating here, and going through my internship and some residency here. Then I was sent over there and I took advantage of a scholarship then in Vienna, Austria, in pathology and surgery. Naturally, I having been in Berlin and lived there for some time, I wanted to show the men around who were in our unit, and let them enjoy the sights. So, we were anxious to get in there. I wanted to know how many seats there were in this plane, because everybody that was available I would fill the thing up, and if they made a mistake, they were really going to make a big one.
We got ready--I think we took off the next morning early--and had the plane pretty well filled up. We flew over the Tempelhof Airdrome. It was just out of Berlin; it's in Potsdam. I looked down there on the airfield and I said, "My goodness,
what in the world are all these officers doing? What's all that affair down there?"
And the man looked up to me and he said, "Colonel Graham, that's for you."
"Oh, my land." I was really shook then, that's the first time it really got to me, because I wasn't dressed for anything like that. I mean you're in your jump boots and your trousers that you pressed between boards and things like that, you know. I was really shook then. I said, "Well, I hope he has the right one, whoever you're looking fox," because I looked down there and the French had these big gold braids on their hats, the red hats, and the Foreign Legion was out there. The Russians were out there in their white gloves and they looked spic and span, and our troops were terrific, and they had a great, long, red carpet. Oh, my goodness gracious, I just couldn't really believe it.
Well, anyway, we rolled up and the door opened right at the red carpet and so we went out according to protocol. I went to the head of the line and
the officer then up there kept looking around and looking around and, "Let's see. Let's see, can you tell me . . ."
"Are you looking for Colonel Graham?"
"Oh yes, yes indeed."
"Well, I'm Colonel Graham."
"0h, yes, yes indeed, that's fine. That's fine. Well, who are these gentlemen, who are these soldiers and officers with you?"
I said, "Well, they are my guests." So I guess he was pretty well shook. I introduced myself and showed him my ID card. You know they had the general's car and all, and he assured himself that I was the right one, and the Secret Service stepped up and they asked me what I'd like to have. Well, frankly, when you're in the Army they don't ask you what you want or what you would like to have, and I wasn't exactly used to it. I said, "pertaining to what?"
He said, "'0h, transportation."
I said, "Well, fine, give us a jeep, anything you can get."
"You can certainly have better than a jeep."
"Fine, give me a command car." You know, when you're in that year after year, been here in maneuvers for a year or so, two years, and over there throughout the whole thing.
He said, "Well, no," he said, "would you like to have a Packard car?"
"Well, I'll take anything I can get, anything is splendid, just fine."
So that was about it. We exchanged amenities there, and got in the car and we rolled up to our two places where we were to stay there in Potsdam. They had taken over several homes there in the sector. They said, "This will be your place to stay," and so that was fine. That was about the end of it and I didn't hear anything more. I think it was the following day, they said, "You can do anything you wish, go anyplace you want to go and we will contact you."
Well, that's quite a bit of latitude. So the next day then I had the group and I said, "Let's go on up to Berlin; that's the reason we
came up here, we wanted to see this place." We went on up into Berlin, and I was showing them the various places all around there. It was pretty well battered, though, Berlin was just nothing but rubble almost then. Then we went over and saw the place where [Adolph] Hitler had met his end. As a matter of fact, I had seen Hitler many times prior to this. I mean I had actually seen him. I was at the plebiscite anschluss in Vienna when Germany took over Austria as Niederdeutschland. That was on the 10th of April, 1938. It was then that I saw [Herman Wilhelm] Goering, and [Joseph Paul] Goebbels, and Hitler when they all came down there then; and I had seen him prior to that time in Berlin. He was there on the opera ring when all these German troops were rolling in from Deutschland down into Austria.
My sergeant went down into the bunker; found a book down there. He brought this book out, and the book happened to be the last will and testimony of Hitler. It's a large book, rather interesting to look at, that's all. This is a photostatic copy
of it. We've had I think five--either four or five--photostats made of it; the President has one, I had one, General [Harry] Vaughan had one, and the Secretary of War; and the original went to the archives of Congress. Then anyway, we had that, and that was just about it.
From Berlin, then, we went up to the Brandenburg Tor, which is on Unter den Linden Strasse the great street in Berlin where the horsemen were pretty well shod; these iron horses you know. I think they were brought up there by Frederick de Grossa, Frederick the Great. I think they made the trip twice for some reason or other, I'm not sure of the history, I'm a little foggy on that. I was explaining it there at the Brandenburg Tor and all of a sudden a few jeeps rolled up, the Military Police came up and "Colonel Graham?"
"You are wanted back at the Little White House immediately."
"Fine. Okay." I just checked out and
left the group there in the car, and we went back into Potsdam. I went into this large house and there I met some other doctors from Missouri--also surprised. I knew Howard Rusk, who was Colonel Rusk, and we met, we exchanged greetings, and there was another doctor there, a Dr. Alphonse McMann. Howard Rusk was on the faculty at the University of St. Louis; real fine men, excellent doctors. I asked them what it was all about, and they acted like they didn't know too much about it. We were all up there together; so, that was about it.
Then after a while they called me and I went into this large room. The general officer was sitting at the desk. I saluted and introduced myself, and who I was, reporting; and what it was for. So he tried to make me feel at ease. "Here. have a cigar."
"Well, I don't smoke cigars."
"Well, here have a cigarette."
"Well, I don't smoke anything."
He said, "What will you have?" "Okay, sit
at ease." So I sat at ease. He said, "How would you like to be the medical advisor and the personal physician to the President of the United States?"
Well, if I had had false teeth I would have dropped them all out. It just shook me, it was just like, "How would you like to be Chiang Kai-shek," you know. I was really taken aback, because I hadn't anticipated that at all. So I said, "Well, naturally I follow orders, and if the command is that, and the orders are that, that I will be, and that is all there is to it. If you ask me how I would like it, I don't think I would like it."
Well, bang, that really shook him then. So he banged his fist down and he said, "All right, that's it."
So I saluted and about-faced and walked out. I told the doctors about it, outside, and, "Oh, my goodness," and they just about flipped, too. So that was just about it.
I went over then to where we were staying
and I went on back up in Berlin and we saw the sights. Then the next day we went back up again and saw other parts of Berlin. The next day, then this same group of MP's, Military Police, came up and rolled up there, "Colonel Graham?"
"You're wanted back at the little White House immediately, back at Potsdam."
"Well, fine, that's all right then." So I took off and went back with them. We went into the house and it was just exactly like I had left off the day before. I saluted and all, and stood
at ease. "Why wouldn't you like it?"
I said, "Well, it isn't a matter of like or dislike, it's a matter, I think, he should have an older man take care of him, and I think that he should have one that's retired and in internal medicine. I'm a surgeon by profession."
He said, "Yes, I know all about you, you've had your internal medicine, too, though, and you've done this, and you've done that."
I said, "Yes, sir, I have sir."
He said, "Well, we know more about you than you think. We've followed you all the way through from the day you were born."
So, I said, "That's fine if you know what you're getting. But on the other hand," I said, "that isn't the only reason. The other reason is I would like to get out of the service whenever I can, whenever the war is over, and get back to treating many people. I just can't see just treating one man in particular. Would I be stationed in a hospital or something like that?"
"Well, absolutely. There are hospitals there, and," he said, "we can take care of that." That's all there was to it.
I said, "Well, you can t really take care of it, if they accept me then that's fine, with my credentials; and if they don't, well then I'11 have to abide by their decision accordingly."
So, we talked a little while and just about things in general, about the war. I found out that he was General Vaughan, Harry Vaughan, a splendid man I thought; and then after we talked
for some time we got a buzz, and he said, "Well, that will be all, Colonel Graham."
I about faced and saluted and came out in the foyer, and as I came out President Truman was coming down the steps there, and I recognized him from his pictures and everything. I saluted and told him who I was, and he said, "Yes, sir, I'm happy to see you. I understand, Colonel Graham, that you're to be my personal physician."
I said, "Well, that will be splendid Mr. President, but I hope you know what you have, because you don't know if I'm a Democrat or a Republican, an anarchist or Communist, or who I am. "
"Well, I'll tell you, Dr. Graham, I don't give a so and so what you are. " He said, "I know all about you and I've known you from cradle up to the present time, every day. As a matter of fact, we haven't missed anything." He said, "What made you so derned obstinate in coming up here?"
I said, "Well, in the first place, Mr. President, I really thought they had the wrong man,
I was so took back. Then I got to thinking that maybe you were just having a conclave or a gathering of all the Missourians up there. So, I thought well, they had made a mistake, so that's about it."
We laughed and said, "Well, now, you'd be going back on the Augusta with me won't you?"
"No, sir, I can't go back on the Augusta with you."
"Colonel Graham, do you know to whom you are speaking?"
"Mr. President, Colonel Graham will be very happy to accompany the President of the United States back on the Augusta.."
He laughed and said, "Well, why did you come back so fast and say you couldn't go back with me?"
I said, "Because, Mr. President, I left the hospital relatively uncovered from the standpoint of chief of surgery, and I have certain duties and certain functions to perform. I have to get an officer to take my place, and make certain
arrangements in my orders to break the ties." I said, " I've put in for Japan, so we have to nullify those orders through SHAEF headquarters and through command functions, et cetera."
"0h, we'll take care of that."
He said, "Well, how long will it take to get those men out of there, back here to the States. Those wounded?"
I said, "It depends when I"--one reason, because I'm not a very good sailor and I didn't want to come back home on his ship, you know. I said, "Well, it will take about ten to fourteen days, " I don't know how long he was going to be over there, see. "But I could sure fly over there just as soon as I get finished."
"Well, that would be just fine, that would be just fine." He said, "You stay around here for a few days until the conference is over, and then you just get a plane, just get one of our Air Force men and fly right on over there. That will be just splendid." He said, "You meet me
at the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington the 15th of September, how's that?"
I said, "Sir, that will be splendid." So I saluted, about-faced, and that was it.
Then we went to some of the conferences there, and met some of the people such as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and met Generalissimo [Joseph] Stalin, and met the interpreter, and I met the Russian group, and then some of the French group, and the various dignitaries and men there. I thought it was very interesting. Then that was about it.
Returned to my place down at Stuttgart after a few days, and I think two or three days was all, and I came back and met him in Washington then on the 15th of September, 1945 it was. I'm pretty sure that was the date.
So then I got acquainted with my duties, and also arranged to continue my professional work at Walter Reed Hospital where I was placed on a duty status, and later made my attachments to the university there where I taught. I would take
care of the President anytime that he demanded--I mean he didn't demand anything actually--anytime it was necessary, but at least every day, usually in the morning, always in the evenings, or both. I arranged my staff accordingly. I had a good sergeant there who arranged for his physical exercise, and all like that; had a good program going. Then I took care of a few there in the White House, also; and some of the President's friends, people who would come to visit him occasionally, little things. My day was filled from 8 o'clock until 5 o'clock as a rule everyday at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Then getting back down there every evening, and I would stay there until sometimes 8, 9, 10 o'clock everyday, and maybe come back on duty doing little things at Walter Reed or go home, maybe both.
Now, ,there was, of course, the cessation of hostilities with Japan. Following that there was the various treaties, et cetera, that were signed. Prior to that, of course, there was the atomic bomb factor. I noticed physiologically--I mean
in examining the President, at certain times he would have considerable pulmonary congestion and it wasn't true asthma, but it was asthma-like congestion. He would breathe just a little more short, but believe me, the President at all times was calm, and he kept his decorum absolutely ,just superbly. He never had a cross word with me at any time, in all of our dealings, and under all circumstances. I rather resent the press really for seeming to dote upon the, should I say the Anglo Saxon vocabulary, which was really not manifest. I mean he did not, he never cussed like they had in this play.
In talking to Cdr. [Sam] Gallu about this recent play "Give'em Hell Harry" he said, "Well, it's the best way to get it across to the public. The President had a manner in which he could speak, that it came out that way, but not with the cusswords." And that is very true, you know exactly what he meant, there was no question about it.. He was not only quite audible, but everybody understood exactly how he stood on
matters and when he made his decision that was it. But with me, he was just a real gentleman at all times.
When I would listen to his chest and I would do something every night, I would go over every evening, and in tunes of tension I noticed that he would have this clouding up. So, I talked with Admiral,--oh, who was the Admiral now, the doctor of the Senate? I forget who it was; I keep thinking Admiral Foskett. But he said, "I feel sorry for you, young man, because the President's chest is not good. I mean you will find it going into decompensation and such things as that."
Well, anyway, I acquainted the President with that, and his retort was, "Well, you and I are going to live to bury that old boy at that." Well, we did at that. He said, "We're just going to fool him." But I did acquaint him with the psychology of tensions and how it did affect him, and he realized that and he said--his attitude then was, "Well, just the old age in me flying up." Well, very little actual treatment, or
actual therapy, but it cleared right up from that standpoint, and the physiological standpoint. He progressed well then, and he didn't show these manifestations later when he realized what was going on. But I could see when these tensions came on. But he wouldn't worry about things, not ostensibly. He knew his problems, and as he stated, "I do the very best I can. I use the best mental version that I know of. I know my history, I think about those things, and I think about what is best for the United States, and our people, and I act accordingly. I know that I've done everything and I talk to the good Lord, and that's all there is to it. I've done everything that I can do, so there isn't anything more to do, so I don't worry about it. I just shut it off." That just about takes care of that situation.
Now, ,there were many things that came up. I do recall quite well, in my sequence of events, I am at a loss now as far as dates, but I remember the election came along, and one, they were quite upset with him because of his rather adamant stand on
the establishment of Israel. I remember Clark Clifford came in and said, "Mr. President," and Bob Hannegan happened to mention the same thing one time also. Bob Hannegan was the Democratic National Committeeman at the time and the President and I were there. It was on the train, as a matter of fact. They said, "Mr. President, if you keep the sane stand that you keep on this matter of Israel, this could cost you the election."
President Truman said, "Well, if the election depends upon this factor alone, that's it, it'll have to go down the drain because I'm standing pat on it, I believe in it and that's it." He said, "We're going to have an Israel for these Jews, and that's the end of it." So, they talked to him a while and he said, "There's no use talking about it, it's the only right thing to do, it's the correct thing to do, and we'll do it." So that ended that from that standpoint.
I think they were quite dismayed about it, because they thought they would really lose the election because of that factor.
I know election night I was with him, in the evening, he said, "Doctor, let's take off."
"Fine, let's go, Mr. President, where are we going?"
He said, "There's a little old place up here at Excelsior Springs called the Elms Hotel., why don't we just go on up there?" So, he and I were the only ones, along with the Secret Service men, and we went up there to the Elms Hotel, nobody else with us at all. We didn't talk any about the
election. He wasn't concerned one iota, not a bit. We talked fairly late that evening and went to bed, and that's all there was to it. I don't recall whether I woke him up the next day, or he came around and woke me up, but that was it. We found out that he won, and then we came back to the Muehlebach in Kansas City.
Now, about the Korean affair, there seems to be so much time differentials that I read about, where he made decisions of one thing or another, but I know that we were in the war with Korea. I know we were in Kansas City visiting his mother at the time, and he said, "Doctor, let's get on
this plane and get out of here." He said, "I've got a problem."
So we both got on the plane at the same time along with the other members of the group, and he said, "Doctor, I've got to make a terrible, terrible, terrible decision." He said, "I've got to figure out whether to drop a devastating mechanism or not." He said, "If we don't we're going to lose thousands of our own good troops." He said, "The Japanese are natural fighters, and, believe you me, when they're fighting for their homeland that's all there is to it, they will fight to the end, regardless of how it comes out. It means that there is going to be thousands of our people killed, of our men killed." He said, "There's no getting out of it. They have told me the calibrated losses, and," he said, "every time that we may have an invasion, they can tell almost it's amazing how close they come to it. I've got to make a decision on how we're going to handle this situation." And he said, "That has me very, very seriously concerned."
I didn't actually know what he was talking about, so I said, "Well, I know that you will come to a correct decision, regardless of what it is, I know perfectly well." I said, "I wish I could help you out on such a matter, but that's about it."
That was the end of that, and we flew back to Washington and it was soon after that he made the official announcement that they dropped the bomb. So I know that his first information, the first warning, when he was actually told$ when he made his decision was on the way back to Washington from Kansas City.
Now soon after that came the termination of Japanese hostilities and the war's end.
Then, of course, he made several trips and they were all very interesting--Key West and the various other places. I was sent out of the country on several occasions because foreign heads of Government would request certain medical help, or if they were ill maybe he offered my services. That I'm not actually sure of and I would never
ask him. I had the order and that was all there was to it. I mean, he would have me meet with General Vaughan and the gentlemen from the State Department and they would make arrangements. But several of the trips were very, very interesting. Some of the trips were made to Saudi Arabia where I cared for His Majesty King Ibn Saud. He was the father of Faisal and Saud-el-Saud--King Faisal--later and I took care of him over there in Riyadh at one time and another time in Ta'if, which was the summer palace just out of Mecca. I'd go over there with a group, an internist, anesthetist, and whoever I thought we needed, an x ray man, and all that. That's a separate story. I mean that's a big story, a very interesting one actually, of His Majesty King Ibn Saud. That's where I met His Majesty--later His Majesty--King Faisal--it was a dual kingship after King Ibn Saud died. And I took care of many others. They were very, very fine, very sensitive people.
I like the Arabs very much, frankly. I mean just in meeting them man for man. I would always be one to place myself in the category of the individual, or common Mr. Man, what would I do if I were to drop by parachute there on that desert. Well, believe you me, I think that they've done quite well. You know you look down your nose at certain things, why don't they have cities, this, that and the other thing? Well, they just don't have anything to do with but a desert there. Our deserts are beautiful compared to what they've got there. I mean we have mesquite trees, and a few little signs of life. There is nothing there. Well, every once in a while you'll see a mirage, the Persian Gulf, or something like that, and you think you're getting someplace, but you're not. It is really a real desert. But I enjoyed every minute that I was there. I enjoyed knowing the people and working with them and doing everything that I possibly could for them, and obtaining my objectives. I was there for several reasons; I mean I was there for many reasons, as a matter of
fact. It wasn't only medical and surgical, but other factors, too. That's when we were trying
to get a longer term for the Dhahran Air Base, and that's when the royal negotiations were going
on, pretty well at that time, also. I was sent back there almost every year for a while, as a
matter of fact. I enjoyed every time I was there. We had our duties to perform, in trying to treat
the various members of the royal family; but I won't go into that now anymore.
Now, back to the United States. My duties were fulfilled in Walter Reed Hospital and there at the White House, and was fulltime duty; but I've always had two or three jobs all my life and am the type of individual, that has to work hard, and I enjoy it. It makes me get along well. Now, I don't know of any other particular facets that you want me to cover.
STILLEY: Was the President pretty stubborn--to get him to take some of the medication you were handing him?
GRAHAM: Never. Never at any time. Not one single, solitary time, because he knew that I didn't care about taking medicine myself, and I told him so. I was reluctant about giving any to him unless it was absolutely necessary. There was never a question. I would always explain what it was, why I was giving it, when I expected it to work, and how I expected it to react, and what it would do; and how long I expected him to feel badly, whatever it was. And he knew that I had gone into that, there was never a question at any moment. "Yes, doctor, that's fine," and that's it. There was never anything, I mean really, it was just positively amazing. I guess really, and it's not because he is who he is, or he was who he was, or in what position, he was the finest patient I've ever had in my life, really. And the kindest. He was really very, very kind, genteel, and in spite of the directness, I should say soft spoken, man of decision that I've ever known or been around.
Now I enjoyed His Majesty King Ibn Saud very,
very much, too; and I've enjoyed many other dignitaries who have been there. But stormy weather, good weather, politically and otherwise, he was just solid at all times, absolutely.
And he was very genteel. A peculiar thing, he was very, very modest. He was ultra modest as a matter of fact, and one reason why he never wanted to go to the hospital was because his modesty sort of overwhelmed him, and he'd just as soon have the Navy corpsmen take care of him, and me, rather than nurses for sometime, you know, unless he was really sick. He and I felt about the same way about it. I knew how he felt and I appreciated and honored him for it. I treated him accordingly. But he was just splendid at all times.
HILL: Was he a pretty healthy individual most of the time?
GRAHAM: Oh, yes. Yes, he was quite healthy. Now he did have one bout of pneumonia that was quite striking at one time, and then he'd get little upper respiratory colds. He had more difficulty with his eyes. It seems like, as he states, the
axis would shift and he'd have to carry two pairs of glasses at all times. Then if one didn't just fit the occasion, he would put on the other pair. That was the one crutch that he did have. But as far as his health, yes, he was in relatively good health all the time. I gave him little things to augment the situation and to keep his chest in good condition, and we'd check on his heart and see that he didn't overdo himself. He was naturally a very healthy man by inheritance also. I mean, really, his father and mother were both quite healthy, and that means a lot. The fact that he could get around some people at times, too, with colds, I'd move him out away from them. That was one of my prime functions, to keep him protected. He'd catch on quite well, and he'd always do what I suggested, always. That was gratifying, also; but he knew that I wouldn't ask him if I wasn't really very, very concerned.
Mrs. Truman was also very kind at all times, very obliging. Her mother was there for a while and she wasn't feeling too well either, and I took
care of Mrs. Wallace, Mrs. Truman, and the President, and that was about it.
Anything, any particular facets you want to cover?
The President knew at all times about every single one of us, regardless of where we were, what we were doing, or anything; and he kept a constant tag on us. He would never allow any form of immorality. He was a great family man himself and he expected every body around him to be the same way, 100 percent, all the way. And there was no two ways about it; because I happen to know of one individual there who deviated from the so called "social norm," and he found out about it. He said, "Well, I'm sorry, but this man has Potomac fever, and I'm afraid his hat isn't quite big enough to fit him, so we had better arrange that he goes home. He's a very valuable man, but it's unfortunate. General, will you take care of that please?"
"Yes, Mr. President." And that was it. He was a Cabinet member at the time and he was gone
just like that. He didn't waste time with individuals who couldn't, as he said, "captain their own ship." They had command of their own ship or that was it. If they couldn't manage their emotions, their tensions, and all, that was it.
Now, another very interesting factor that's brought up I never cared to play poker. The fact is, I mean in all due respects, I mean Baptists, or anything else, I mean that has nothing to do with it, believe me. Which harks back on your schooling up here. You play cards off campus but if you get on the campus, you're thrown out of school. Well, that's one part I could never see one way or the other. Now, we'll deviate from that now. But I never cared for the game at a11. It's a waste of my time.
We'd go down to Key West and to pass the time away, we'd play poker in the evenings only when there were visiting dignitaries there, or people who he had in mind that would come into the group or be taken for certain offices. But I didn't catch the gist of the situation at all,
and he used to annoy me so when he would always want me in on the games, sitting right next to him. But I had had my various medical and surgical magazines piled up here and I would put in what I had to put in, and then I'd read, read, read and they'd shake me up, and it used to aggravate General Vaughan something terrific. He'd say, "All right, old Iodine, get off of it and give me that so and so book." And he'd rip a book or two up you know, So I'd sit there and play for a while and then I'd reach down and get another magazine. "Come on, Iodine, get off of your . . ." And so the President and I, then, after I'd gone along this way for oh, one or two trips, it was very interesting. One time when we were kibitzing along, should I say, talking along, which we did many, many times in the evenings, he said, "I don't know if you've thought anything about these poker games or not, doctor."
I said, "Well, I hadn't thought much about them. I enjoy the comradery and the horseplay that goes on, and listening to General Vaughan's
wild remarks," and I said, "we get a jolt out of that, or listening to Admiral Dennison or Admiral Foskett, or whoever it was at the time, General Landry, and just the bantering, and the ribbing that goes on."
But he said, "No," he said, "I've always talked to you after the poker games, if you'll note."
I said, "Well, no, I hadn't paid much attention to it really, Mr. President, I'm sorry to say."
He said, "Don't you know that I ask you about so and so and so?"
"Yes, that's very true."
And he said, "I'11 tell you," he said, "the reason is because we have these visiting individuals, and they're there for a purpose." He said, "We're studying them. I want to know--you're not a psychiatrist, I know that, but you have a tremendous grip on the psychoanalytical manifestations, or the shortcomings of men and how they will react under certain situations. If they imbibe in spiritis fermenti, that's
fine, just let them imbibe, because," he said, 'they sometimes get glib of tongue and they get agitated and we'll just try them out a little." He said, "Now this isn't for publication by any means, but, I want to know exactly what you think the man is worth, from your standpoint, and how he would be under fire, because this is the only time that we could probably get him under fire." One of those loose ends, too. So, they would always ply him with a bit of one thing or another you know, and General Vaughan would dig him, and oh, sometimes he would get them real fired up. General Vaughan really was a very honorable man. And I'11 preface what I'm going to say by this--Drew Pearson and all would talk about General Vaughan being a two-fisted drinker, and how he would throw the bourbon down and this, that, and the other thing. General Vaughan never took a drink. General Vaughan was an elder in his church, he was a pillar in his church. He was a little earthy, I might say, but he was very direct; you knew exactly how he stood, too. But he was
not a two-fisted drinker. The fact is, I don't know that I ever saw him take a drink. He would drink tea or things like that, and the orange juice and the whole bit, you know, and they might think he was, but he was not.
Now, back to the other. And then he did not cheat at cards, or anything like that either. But you'd put him up to things, see, and he'd