Oral History Interview with
Perry R. Hardin
May 8, 1991
by Niel M. Johnson
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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 July, 1992
Harry S. Truman Library
Oral History Interview with
Perry R. Hardin
May 8, 1991
by Niel M. Johnson
JOHNSON: Mr. Hardin, I'm going to start out just by asking you where and when you were born, who your parents are.
HARDIN: I was born on March 4, 1928 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. My mother's name was Adelle Hardin, and my father's name was Lafayette Hampton Hardin.
JOHNSON: Do you have any brothers and sisters?
HARDIN: I had four older brothers and three older sisters.
JOHNSON: You're the youngest.
HARDIN: I am the youngest in the family.
JOHNSON: I've said this before, but it seems like I've been interviewing the youngest son or daughter more often than not.
HARDIN: I have one brother who is living and I have two sisters who are living.
JOHNSON: So you were educated in Tuscaloosa?
HARDIN: Educated in high school in Tuscaloosa. I finished high school just as I had turned 16 years of age. I went to two summer schools so I could finish high school earlier, and that was during World War II. At that time the high school was really an eleven year school. So I finished high school in ten years by way of going to summer school two years. I had a sister working in Washington, D.C. at the time.
JOHNSON: What year are we talking about?
HARDIN: This is in 1944 that I graduated from high school. I had visited my sister in Washington, D.C. when I was in junior high school and it was my desire to come back and work in Washington, D.C., and take all the Civil Service examinations, or something I thought I could pass.
So, when I graduated from high school in May of '44 I immediately got on a train and headed out for Washington in June of '44. Arriving in Washington, I took several examinations for Civil Service work. Clerical was my highest score; I believe I scored 94 or 98, something in that range, and I chose to apply as a
Civil Service clerk. The Secretary of Agriculture's department employed me. That was my first job with Civil Service.
I was employed there in the Secretary's file room for six months, from June until December of '44.
JOHNSON: Was that [Claude] Wickard who was Secretary of Agriculture at that point?
HARDIN: I think he was the Secretary of Agriculture at that time; I'm not positive. I would have to look that up. My supervisor called me into his office one day and said they had an opening in the White House for a file clerk. He said that he would like to recommend me to be detailed to the White House, if I was interested. Of course, my eyes probably got large as saucers. And it meant a grade promotion all the way up to Grade 3 -- probably around $1,200 or $1,400 a year.
So I was detailed to the White House in January, around January 3 of '45, if I remember correctly. When you got on detail to the White House, they keep you on, I guess, a certain amount of probation period. They've got to decide if they want to keep you or not, or send you back to the agency that you came from. So, they picked me up on the White House payroll probably after six months, to the best of my recollection.
JOHNSON: On detail for six months.
HARDIN: That's right, and then they considered that I was no longer detailed to the White House. After the probation period, I was transferred to the White House payroll.
JOHNSON: Who did you report to when you came to the White House for the first time?
HARDIN: My supervisor was Joseph Nash, but, of course, the executive clerk was William Hopkins. Mr. [Clarence E.] Ingling interviewed me for employment in the file room, and then Mr. Joseph Nash interviewed me for employment in the file room. They accepted me, and training began at that time in January of '45. Now, Franklin Roosevelt was President at this time, because his last inauguration, I think, was January 20 of '45, on the South Portico of the White House. He did not go to the Capitol Building for his last inauguration.
JOHNSON: You had already been detailed, right?
HARDIN: I was there.
JOHNSON: What was the date that you were detailed to the White House?
HARDIN: I think it was January 3 of '45, and President Roosevelt was inaugurated January 20, '45. We all witnessed the inauguration from the grounds, the south
grounds of the White House. That's where he and Vice President Truman took their oaths.
JOHNSON: Was that the first time you saw Harry Truman?
HARDIN: The first time I ever remember seeing him and the first time that I remember seeing President Roosevelt. Roosevelt at that time was very ill. I'm not positive, but I think it was Chief Justice [Harlan F.] Stone who administered the oath of office.
JOHNSON: That's right.
HARDIN: President Roosevelt was so ill at the time that I remember that they had to literally pick him up, pick his chair up, to face the Justice for his oath of office. He was very ill.
JOHNSON: Where were you standing, do you remember?
HARDIN: I was standing down on the grounds along with everyone else, on the south grounds.
JOHNSON: Were all of you White House people grouped together in the same group?
HARDIN: Right. The staff was grouped together. They issued invitations for different groups to be in different locations on the south grounds. I was assigned to the staff group. But we did have a very
good vantage point for the inauguration, because this was not an inauguration of a President as we know it today.
HARDIN: Due to President Roosevelt's illness, I'm sure. And possibly the war going on had something to do with it.
JOHNSON: Yes, that was one of the reasons they cited for that. It's a memorable experience seeing that. And then you had to go back to work. Or did they give you the day off?
HARDIN: That was a holiday. We did not work, that's right. At that time when I was first employed I had to make several trips over to the East Executive Office, and I had to go by what was then a swimming pool, indoor pool. It had louvered shutters along the walkway there, and I recall I heard some splashing going on. I stopped and peeped through the little shutters there, and all of a sudden I heard this voice behind me say, "Hey boy, move on." I looked around, and I found out that was a Secret Service agent who was standing somewhere in the vicinity of the Rose Garden. It was President Roosevelt who was in the pool at the time.
JOHNSON: You see on this layout, here's a swimming pool.
This is attached to the West Wing. It shows it here, I guess, on the first floor.
HARDIN: Yes, it was right on the first floor. The President's office was over in here. And here's the walkway right here.
JOHNSON: Yes, there's the Portico.
HARDIN: And I was coming from over here, from the elevator . . .
JOHNSON: You were coming from the west side.
HARDIN: Took the elevator up to the first -- the ground level -- and was walking across ground level.
JOHNSON: So you were walking east there.
JOHNSON: Past the pool.
HARDIN: Really, my business on the east side at that time was just to have some further paper work accomplished, as the best I recall.
JOHNSON: Where was it that they first stationed you in the White House. Where was your work area? Here's Hassett's office, down here in the corner, in that southwest corner of the West Wing, first floor. But
were you in the basement, did you say?
HARDIN: I was in the basement.
JOHNSON: You said you were under the Oval Office?
HARDIN: Well, approximately under the Oval Office.
JOHNSON: Now, the Oval Office was over here.
HARDIN: No, it would be under this area here.
JOHNSON: Under [Matthew] Connelly's office perhaps?
HARDIN: Right. Perhaps right here.
JOHNSON: Now, here's the Chief Clerk.
HARDIN: Hopkins was upstairs.
JOHNSON: He was right above you then?
HARDIN: This is on ground level here; we were under the ground level.
HARDIN: We entered our office from the West Executive Avenue.
JOHNSON: That west entrance.
HARDIN: West Executive Avenue entrance. We stepped down a few steps after going in there. My office was
approximately in this location.
JOHNSON: Right under the Appointment's Secretary, under Connelly's office.
JOHNSON: That was a file room?
HARDIN: That was a file room from here up to here.
JOHNSON: Okay, under the Fish Room.
HARDIN: The messengers had a room, and duplicating rooms were over here on that same level that we were on.
JOHNSON: Down below in the basement.
HARDIN: Down below in the basement.
JOHNSON: That would be toward the west side there.
HARDIN: That is correct.
JOHNSON: Okay, you can keep that as a souvenir, and you might just keep that handy.
HARDIN: Thank you. I do not have a floor plan.
JOHNSON: This was in Life magazine, in the December 13, 1948, issue. Well, perhaps I should keep one handy here too for reference. Okay, so that's where you started work. Would you just briefly describe what
kind of duties you had? What were your responsibilities there?
HARDIN: Well, my first job was in the alphabetical files; any information that was cross-indexed, it would be underscored and then we would have to file it under that. If they were writing about apples, they would underscore the word "apple." Then make a copy for the name, and any topic they were speaking about.
JOHNSON: Did they call it the White House Central Files? Is that a term they used at the time? White House Central Files?
HARDIN: I believe that's correct.
JOHNSON: This would have been the General File, what we call the General File now?
HARDIN: The General File, alphabetical by name.
JOHNSON: And then sometimes by subject, but mainly by name.
HARDIN: Now, they made a record, the clerks, the clerk-typists in the office that I was in; they would record the topic or the name and then they would mimeograph a certain number of copies and we would file them. If they wanted any information about apples, and if someone had written in about apples, we'd look up apples. If we had the person's name, and if they said
they had written to the President before, then they would look up the name; of course, starting with the name first. But we did have subject matter involved with that too.
JOHNSON: I notice in that file that sometimes they would abstract, or summarize, the content of the letter.
HARDIN: Right. They would summarize that.
JOHNSON: And then they'd say the letter went to the War Department or State Department, or wherever.
HARDIN: Right, and then they would reply to the person writing the letter, telling them they were referring this letter to the War Department or Agriculture Department, depending on what the subject matter was.
JOHNSON: A record would be there in that General File, alphabetical file. Do you remember who did some of that abstracting, some of the summarizing of those letters? Do you have any idea who was doing that?
HARDIN: Miss [Edna] Rosenberg was in charge of the people who were doing the abstract work for the alphabetical files.
JOHNSON: All the mail that came to the White House came first to this file room, is that right?
HARDIN: To the mail room.
JOHNSON: To the mail room. All right, then who would start the sorting of it?
HARDIN: The mail clerks in the mail room would do that sorting and decide where it should go from that point.
JOHNSON: When you say where it should go, you're talking about . . .
HARDIN: Within the office.
JOHNSON: Oh, you mean within the mail room?
HARDIN: Within the file room. The mail clerks would make the determination of what to do with the correspondence first.
JOHNSON: For instance, what if it was something that was to go to the President's Personal File, or to the Official File, or even to the President's Secretary's Files -- that is what apparently went to Rose Conway, and she handled it personally. You're aware of the President's Secretary's Files [PSF], that went to Rose Conway and she put that in a special area?
HARDIN: Right, the President's Personal File, which we called PPF.
JOHNSON: But that was part of the White House Central
Files, and the PSF was not considered part of the White House Central Files.
HARDIN: That's right. Not everyone had access to personal mail. That decision was made by, I think, Rose Conway. But I do not know that. All I know is what I received later. She had to have made the determination what to release to us and what not to release to us.
JOHNSON: But somebody down in the mail room, if they were getting all the mail there, they would have to decide whether to open it, or . . .
HARDIN: They would have routed it . . .
JOHNSON: Would they open up every piece of mail first?
HARDIN: I don't know that.
JOHNSON: How about Secret Service men? Would they take a look at the mail that came in? Did the Secret Service have any involvement that you recall?
HARDIN: I can't recall at this point to what extent they did check the incoming mail.
JOHNSON: Do you recall getting any threatening letters to the President?
HARDIN: Oh, yes, there were threatening letters.
JOHNSON: And that would be routed over to the Secret Service?
HARDIN: Probably routed through them.
JOHNSON: But you had nothing to do with examining the mail that came in.
HARDIN: Oh, no, I knew nothing about what . . .
JOHNSON: The mail that you got had already been through the hands of . . .
HARDIN: Proper authorities, or whoever should handle that particular letter.
JOHNSON: I am trying to figure out who filtered this mail that came in, who sorted it, and decided its ultimate destination in the White House. But you got the mail for the General File, the alphabetical file. I mentioned the President's Personal File, the PPF. Did you . . .
HARDIN: Now, I did not receive the mail personally. I received the mail after it had been through the other chains. Whatever they decided to put in the PPF, then I received that after I was promoted from the alphabetical file to the PPF file.
JOHNSON: Oh, okay.
HARDIN: From an alphabetical sequence to a numbered sequence file.
JOHNSON: When did that happen, do you recall?
HARDIN: Probably when I returned from the service. I would say that would have been in '48 or '49.
JOHNSON: Okay, you went into the service in what month and year?
HARDIN: May 1st of '46 was my first active day.
JOHNSON: In the Army?
HARDIN: Into the Army; I was drafted at 18. On November 3 of 1947 I was discharged. At that time we had the option of requesting our old job back if we wanted it back. They would give it back to us.
JOHNSON: What rank did you reach in the Army?
HARDIN: I reached the rank of corporal.
JOHNSON: You didn't feel the White House gave you any special privileges?
HARDIN: Oh, no, absolutely not. I was not exempted from the draft, just because I worked in the White House. That was the old World War II draft law that was still in effect. When you were 18 you go, if you're
physically able to go.
JOHNSON: So, from January of '45 until . . .
HARDIN: April of '46.
JOHNSON: You were in the White House file room?
HARDIN: That's right.
JOHNSON: Handling the alphabetical file, General File.
HARDIN: That's right, General File.
JOHNSON: You weren't doing anything with the Official File, the OF or the PPF.
HARDIN: No, not at that time.
JOHNSON: Then you came back from the service and were promoted. Does this mean a grade promotion to a four?
HARDIN: I believe I was promoted to Grade 4.
JOHNSON: Which would pay at that time . . .
HARDIN: Maybe $1,620 a year. That figure rings a bell.
JOHNSON: How did your duties differ, or was there any difference really in what you were doing?
HARDIN: Well, it was a lot easier, because there was less mail to the PPF compared to the alphabetical files.
JOHNSON: By the way, who was helping you? Can you just remember a few names who were helping you file these?
HARDIN: William P. Connors was filing also along with me, but shortly after that I filed all the PPF files every day, unless I was off ill and then someone else had to do it, of course.
JOHNSON: Did someone else put the numbers on?
HARDIN: Yes, the numbers were put on by somebody else.
JOHNSON: Were already on. So, all you had to do was to find the folder that it belonged in?
HARDIN: That's right.
JOHNSON: The file drawer and the folder that it belonged in. Did the most recent go in the back or the front?
HARDIN: That's a good question, because that's very important. You could check your files and find out. But it had to be the back to front of course, but . . .
JOHNSON: Well, you know, as archivists we try to maintain the original order entirely, if there's an order to it. And, of course, we've reboxed those. A lot of those original folders are still there. We're trying to replace them with acid-free. Well, you noticed some of those old folders, didn't you. They looked familiar to
you I suppose.
JOHNSON: And so somebody would stamp PPF and the number. Do you recall who did that? Who decided the number that it would fit under?
HARDIN: That was not decided in the file room. It wasn't even decided by my supervisor of the file room, the numbers.
JOHNSON: Okay, it comes in the mail room, let's say, and it's going to end up in the PPF. Where would it go from the mail room? To whom or to what area?
HARDIN: An office of about ten clerks and their supervisor, adjacent to the file room. One section of the clerk-typists (Miss Rosenberg's office) handled the alphabetical files; their mail was routed through there. But another section handled the PPF files. I don't know what that section was called.
JOHNSON: The location of what we call the White House Central Files -- which is the General File, the PPF, and the Official File -- were they all in the same area in the White House? Kept in the same room?
HARDIN: They were in the same room when we were in the White House proper in the west office.
JOHNSON: In the West Wing. Here's the mail room. Where were the files actually kept?
HARDIN: The files were kept on . . .
JOHNSON: Here's the Oval Office, and you're under here, you're on the basement floor, in this area here.
HARDIN: We had files up this area, along this wall.
JOHNSON: All right, now you're talking about the southwest -- in other words, to the west of your mail room. West of the mail room.
HARDIN: Right. And we had files along this wall.
JOHNSON: Okay, and this is right under the waiting room? Yes, it says waiting room, I guess here.
HARDIN: Well, that was upstairs.
JOHNSON: Yes. Underneath there. You also had files there. So all the White House Central Files were in this area under the chief clerk, Hopkins, and the greeter, [William D.] Simmons, and under this waiting room on the basement floor.
HARDIN: That is correct.
JOHNSON: And you never had to worry about moisture or leakage, water leakage?
HARDIN: Well, we didn't have any problems that I can recall. I do recall President Truman coming down through that office, shortly after Roosevelt died. He walked through our office and noticed that it was so well constructed. Well, of course, the war was still going on, and he just observed and remarked and laughed, "Well, we're pretty safe down here, in case they bomb us." So that was interesting that he made that observation.
JOHNSON: Well, when was the first time you actually shook his hand or met him face-to-face?
HARDIN: Face-to-face and shook his hand would probably have been in December of '45, at Christmas time when he received the staff.
JOHNSON: Okay where did he receive them?
HARDIN: He received the staff upstairs. It was not in the Oval Office. It was right outside, probably in the Press Secretary's office or someone else's office, in a little hallway . . .
JOHNSON: Did you just file past him, get in line and file past?
HARDIN: We'd just file past in line, and he wished us all a Merry Christmas. He presented us with some little
memento every year.
JOHNSON: Like a card mainly?
HARDIN: A card, or something signed, autographed by himself or by him and his wife Bess.
JOHNSON: Do you still have those items, at least some of them?
HARDIN: I still have some of them at home, that's right.
JOHNSON: And you brought one of them today. A 1945 Christmas card.
HARDIN: One of the Christmas cards was a picture of the Blair House.
JOHNSON: Yes, I remember seeing that.
HARDIN: That was the home of the President during reconstruction years of the White House.
JOHNSON: And these are autographed usually?
HARDIN: That one was not autographed. The picture of the Blair House was not autographed to us. But President Truman and Mrs. Truman did autograph one. I'm trying to think of the year that they both autographed one. It was 1950.
JOHNSON: You remember him remarking that it seemed to be
safe down there from bombing and that sort of thing. Did he come down very often?
HARDIN: No. He did come down during the March of Dimes years; that was usually in January if I recall correctly, on President Roosevelt's birthday. A lot of movie stars would always visit the White House, and the movie stars would come down into our office. He had come down into the office with some of the movie stars before, to mingle with them while they were chatting with us. We were allowed to talk to different movie stars at the time and get their autographs. I wish I had all the autographs, but I don't have them.
JOHNSON: Well, why is it they would come down to see you people? Any reason.
HARDIN: Oh, just on their tour of the White House. In connection with the March of Dimes.
JOHNSON: Do you remember Tallulah Bankhead?
HARDIN: Oh, yes, I remember Tallulah Bankhead because she was originally from Alabama, I believe.
JOHNSON: That's right. She was a real fan of Harry Truman.
HARDIN: Alan Ladd I recall. I talked to Alan Ladd; he was so short. I made a remark. I patted him on top of the head and said, "Gee, you're not very tall at all." And
he just remarked with a little laugh.
JOHNSON: He wore elevator shoes I think.
HARDIN: I did have the opportunity to meet a lot of movie stars.
JOHNSON: These are some comments in an article in the Baltimore Sun, February 12, 1948. The heading is "Besides Truman, 503 Others Work 'At the White House.'" Just to check on how accurate this seems to be, let me cite a few lines from this article. It says: "If you write a letter to the President, the mail room sees it first and dispatches it to the officer who decides whether Mr. Truman shall ever read it." Do you know who that officer might have been?
HARDIN: I do not know.
JOHNSON: "This mail force is composed of R.T. Smith, chief, who has been doing this and other executive mansion jobs 50 years, nine White House clerks, twelve clerks loaned by the city post office and four uniformed drivers." Now, this was in '48, "The mail room and the file room have moved across West Executive Avenue to the basement of 'Old State' to give them breathing space. The file room is in charge of Clarence E. Ingling, who is assisted by 35 clerks." Do you remember when you moved out of that original location?
HARDIN: Definitely. I remember moving twice. Before we moved into the Executive Office Building, we were moved temporarily into a temporary building behind the White House -- close to the Ellipse.
JOHNSON: Oh, down that direction.
HARDIN: Behind the White House. It was down around West Executive Avenue. We were down there in a temporary war building for a little while before we moved into the Executive Office Building.
JOHNSON: Well, the renovation hadn't started yet had it, when you moved?
HARDIN: Oh, no, we were just moving for more space.
JOHNSON: You were down there by the Ellipse?
HARDIN: Right. For a short time.
JOHNSON: Are you talking about a few weeks?
HARDIN: A few months. I don't remember exactly; maybe it was up to a year.
JOHNSON: And then they had to cart all of that mail up to the White House?
HARDIN: Well, they had messengers that went back and forth from there, because this is two separate buildings
we're talking about, from the White House to this old temporary building.
JOHNSON: So then you'd have to truck the mail to the White House from this mail room?.
HARDIN: They had to have messenger service run it back and forth.
JOHNSON: Was that after you came back from the Army? Or before you went into the Army?
HARDIN: That was before I entered the Army, that they were in that temporary building behind the White House, well, the end of West Executive Avenue. Really, that building was behind the Executive Office Building, which was the old State Department Building. I think it was directly behind the Executive Office Building. I'm sure it is torn down now.
JOHNSON: Do you know why they moved there?
HARDIN: For more space at the time until they could probably get something ready in the Executive Office Building, which at that time housed the State Department.
JOHNSON: In other words, the amount of mail that came in continued to increase over the years.
HARDIN: Yes, it continued to increase.
JOHNSON: And it was just getting to be too much to handle in the space that you had.
HARDIN: We didn't have the space. We did not have the space available.
JOHNSON: So you moved over to the Old State-War-Navy Building or the Executive Office Building, as it was known then. Were you in the basement there?
HARDIN: That's right. Well, ground level. Right now, you can walk across West Executive Avenue into a little driveway, on up the driveway to ground level, and then our office was immediately to the right as soon as we got to the top of the driveway.
JOHNSON: Was that on the south and east side of the building?
HARDIN: Yes, the south and the east. And we were alone on the ground floor. The mail room was immediately to my right as I went in and then we went down the hallway and the file room was located there. Then if you went on farther down that same hallway you would have the clerk-typists, the ones who prepared the mail, cross-indexed it and so on.
JOHNSON: Were these three and four-drawer filing cabinets
that you were filing the material in?
HARDIN: Well, actually I do not recall a three-drawer cabinet, maybe some five.
JOHNSON: Four and five-drawer filing cabinets, for all of the mail that went into the General File, PPF and the OF (Official File).
HARDIN: That's right, and the PPF file was the only file at that time that we kept locked. We had to lock that every night with a plunger up to the top of the . . .
JOHNSON: Oh, each cabinet had to be locked.
HARDIN: Each cabinet had a lock.
JOHNSON: The PPF.
HARDIN: That's right.
JOHNSON: Do you remember the Confidential File that was part of the White House Central Files that had classified material? Did you ever see classified material and how it was handled?
HARDIN: Not that I can recall. The only thing I can recall was what we call the PPF and that was about as high as I handled while I was there.
JOHNSON: You didn't handle any Official File, or OF?
HARDIN: Well, now, you say OF, just official files? Well, I handled some official files from foreign dignitaries . . .
JOHNSON: Papers for the President's Personal File were filed in salmon-colored folders. Do you remember that?
HARDIN: I remember a different color code, but I cannot recall what it was.
JOHNSON: The PPF was in a salmon-colored and the OF was in manila folders. There was a color code.
HARDIN: I've forgotten.
JOHNSON: But you maybe filed in both then, OF and PPF, as you recall.
HARDIN: Right. But I know we did secure the PPF file.
JOHNSON: Do you know where Rose Conway kept the PSF, the President's Secretary's Files, which has FBI reports, CIA reports, National Security Council materials, correspondence with MacArthur, Winston Churchill and so on?
HARDIN: I'm not familiar with that. I have seen some correspondence from MacArthur, Winston Churchill, Bob Hope, but I didn't see all of that. There were too many of them.
JOHNSON: If it was with other heads of state, that would not go to the PPF or the OF, would it; it would go to Rose Conway for the PSF. Is that the way you remember that?
HARDIN: At times. At times possibly we would get some, but I don't recall that many.
JOHNSON: If you had doubts about any of the mail being filed where it was to be filed, who would you go to to check it out?
HARDIN: I would go to my supervisor.
JOHNSON: Who was?
HARDIN: Joe Nash.
JOHNSON: And his supervisor was . . .
HARDIN: Ferris Daniel Boone. No, his assistant was Ferris Daniel Boone.
JOHNSON: Was he a direct descendant, do you think, of the Daniel Boone?
HARDIN: No. No way. Joseph Nash's supervisor would have been Mr. Ingling, and Mrs. Elizabeth Bonsteel, who was Mr. Ingling's assistant at that time. That was the chain of command.
JOHNSON: Bonsteel replaced . . .
JOHNSON: You brought a couple of photographs showing people in the Oval Office, the staff people, really hurrahing and shouting with joy, with the victory of Truman over Dewey.
JOHNSON: How was that organized? Do you remember how that was put together?
HARDIN: Well, yes. At the time, President Truman was not there and our supervisors just told us that our presence was requested in the Oval Office; let's all go to the Oval Office. So, when we got into the Oval Office we found official photographers were in the Oval Office and they just told us to group around the President's desk and "dust it off, because he was going to be using it four more years," you know. That was when they were so sure that Dewey would defeat President Truman. So just appear that you're dusting off the desk, which we were doing, and grabbing pictures off of the desk, holding them up high, Margaret or whoever's picture we could find on the desk, or any object if you were close to the desk. That's how that was arranged. Everyone was thrilled at
the time, and the photographers told us to let out a big shout and that's why in the picture there you'll see practically everyone's mouth open at one time, shouting about the victory.
JOHNSON: And Truman wasn't back yet; he was on his way back.
HARDIN: That is right; he was not in the White House at the time.
JOHNSON: So would it have been Connelly who allowed them in?
HARDIN: Probably Mr. [William D.] Simmons or Connelly at that time. I remember Mr. Simmons more than I remember Mr. Connelly, because I had my brother visit me in Washington, D.C. at one time and I was allowed to take him into the Oval Office through Mr. Simmons, because President Truman was out of town. My brother sat down in the President's chair and . . .
JOHNSON: What's his name, by the way, your brother's name?
HARDIN: Lowell. I remember him looking up at Mr. Simmons and rearing back in President Truman's chair, and he made a remark to Mr. Simmons, "Well, it's beneath the dignity of the President of the United States of America to have to sit in an uncomfortable chair like
this." He said, "If I was President, I would have me a comfortable chair." He liked the glory, but he did not like the chair.
I want to ask you a question. I saw that chair in the replica of the office down there; that looked like the same chair that President Truman had in his office.
JOHNSON: According to our records, it is.
HARDIN: I remember that built-up back on it and I remember that it was black, and . . .
JOHNSON: Did you ever get to sit in it yourself?
HARDIN: Oh sure.
JOHNSON: You did?
JOHNSON: How did you do that?
HARDIN: Well, when the Pre