Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
Opened February, 1963
Oral History Interview with
March 15, 1962
by James R. Fuchs
FUCHS: Well, Mr. Hinde, were you born in Independence, Missouri?
HNDE: Yes, I was born here in about 1890 and lived here all my life. My folks had lived here about a hundred years. I've spent most of my life in Independence.
FUCHS: I see. You've occupied a number of public positions in Independence, haven't you?
HINDE: Well, only two. One was with the county, when President Truman was county judge, I was first superintendent of parks of Jackson County and started the park program and then I went from there to the post office and I stayed there until I retired in 1960.
FUCHS: I was thinking I'd heard you were in the recorder's office at one time.
HINDE: Oh yes, I was a deputy recorder when I was just a boy about twenty-one years old. That's the only other public office I was ever in.
FUCHS: That would have been around 1911.
HINDE: It was 1911, when I went in there; and stayed there for seven years, until 1917, and then I went into the Army. Called in the service in the army -- in World War I.
FUCHS: Were you in the National Guard or the Missouri Guard?
HINDE: I'd been in the National Guard for about twelve years and then on August 5 we were called into service and our two batteries here in Independence, which were "C" and "E", was expanded into the 129th Field Artillery. The other batteries were taken out of Kansas City -- they organized over there, and that's how President Truman came into the organization. He went into "F" Battery and was later transferred to "D" Battery as commanding officer, and he carried that battery through the war.
FUCHS: What battery were you in most of the...?
HINDE: I went in "C" Battery and then was transferred. to "A" Battery under Keith Dancy, who was a Veteran's Administration officer after the war, and I spent most of my time with "A" Battery.
FUCHS: Were you on the border with Ted Marks?
HINDE: Yeah, I was on the border in 1916. I was in "C" Battery and Ted was in "B" Battery. We were there from June 19 to about December 23 of 1916. Then we came home and stayed on 'till August, then went into the Army -- after the war was declared.
FUCHS You were an officer with "A" Battery?
HINDE: I was a -- you mean on the border or...
FUCHS: Well, on the border or -- well, you weren't with the "A" Battery on the border.
HINDE: I was a second lieutenant in "C" Battery then, and then when we were called back into service on August 5, 1917, I was first lieutenant and executive officer of "C" Battery and I went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma and was down there ten months -- then we went overseas and we were over there eleven months. After getting
over into France, I was transferred to "A" Battery and I was with them 'till I went to the French artillery school at Saumur, France and then I came back to "A" Battery and came home with "A" battery after the war.
FUCHS: Well, you're about six years younger than Mr. Truman.
HINDE: I'm just about -- approximately six years younger than he is. I've known him all my life but we were more intimate -- that is we got more intimately acquainted after we went into the Army. I'd known Harry and his whole family -- well -- always, but after we went into the Army we were more closely associated and have been ever since. That's been over a period of a good many years -- forty-five years.
FUCHS: Did you live close to his family?
HINDE: No, I lived over in the southeast part of town and he lived over in the northwest part of town. 'Course, that wasn't such a long distance in those days 'cause the population wasn't over about 5,000 people. But I've known his family and my family had known
them always -- they're old families around here -- both of 'em -- and we had been acquainted over the years.
FUCHS: Then you were in grade school of course, he would already have entered high school.
HINDE: Yes, he was in high school. I went to the old Noland School out in the southeast part of town and I think possibly he went there a while, I'm not sure. He went to Columbian School. That was over where the L. D. S. Auditorium is now. But, he was in high school when I started school 'cause he's about six years ahead of me.
FUCHS: What is your earliest recollection of Mr. Truman -- as a boy -- or a young man?
HINDE: Well, I don't know of anything particularly that reminds me. He was -- everybody liked Harry -- e didn't take much part in athletics or anything like that but he was a good student and I don't know -- I can't remember anything particular about him at that time. 'Course, after we were so much more closely
associated in the Army, why, so many things about Harry that you remember. It's hard to take one out and...
FUCHS: Now what year did you go into the Guard?
HINDE: I went in the Guard in 1907.
FUCHS: Do you remember him?
HINDE: Well, he was in "B" Battery in Kansas City and I don't know what year he went in but…
FUCHS: He went in in 1905.
HINDE: Well, I went in in 1907. It was an old Company "F" of the Third Infantry at that time. I was about sixteen years old, I think, and then afterwards it was expanded into -- or changed over to artillery and then as I said, after the war started in 1917, it was expanded into a regiment. But, he was in the old Battery "B" of Kansas City. At that time, they had "A" Battery, "B" and "C" Batteries -- only had a battalion -- "A" Battery was at St. Louis and "B" was in Kansas City and "C" was in Independence. Then when the war came along, why, we took "C" Battery
and expanded it into two batteries -- "C" and "E". And then "A" "B" "D", and "F" came out of Kansas City and they took the old "A" Battery, which had been in the National Guard from St. Louis, and they expanded that into the 128th Field Artillery -- but, we were in the same division -- the 35th Division.
FUCHS: Well, he was in the Guard until 1911 and then he -- by that time had gone back to the farm and he was discharged from the Guard. Now, I believe he is said to have come up to Independence to visit Bess Wallace during those years; do you recall anything of seeing him around Independence in those years before the war?
HINDE: Oh, I probably did, Jim, but I don't remember anything particular about -- I knew he used to go with Bess and call on her -- oh, as far back as I can remember. I don't know that he ever had any other girl friend -- not that I know of if he did -- I never heard of him going with anyone else.
FUCHS: Nothing that stands out in your mind about this period?
HINDE: No, nothing in particular. I remember his old car.
I believe it was an old Jefferson. It was quite an automobile. I used to see him driving it -- I believe it was a -- a Jeffries -- I guess it was -- wasn't it?
FUCHS: I don't know -- he had a Stafford.
HINDE: Stafford, Stafford -- that was it. It was made over here in Kansas City. I remember seeing that. It was quite an automobile in those days. I remember the car but I don't -- there's nothing particularly stands out during that time. I don't remember of anything that would be of interest.
FUCHS: Do you have any pronounced recollections of the period when he came back in, just prior to going overseas and was in the service at Fort Sill?
HINDE: Well, I don't believe he came back into the service until they organized the regiment in Kansas City. Then he went in and he was assigned to "F" Battery, which was a battery that was composed of a lot of boys from the stockyards down there, and he stayed with them quite a while. We got down to Fort Sill and we had "D" Battery there which was composed of boys -- I think about ninety per cent of them was from Rockhurst High School and
Rockhurst College out there -- Catholic boys. They were a pretty wild bunch of Irish I'll tell you that. They had one captain named Charlie Allen and they had two or three others there, none of them could handle them, and finally they assigned Truman to command the battery. He was a thirty-third degree Mason in a Catholic battery and we thought he was going to have a pretty rough go of it but he made the best success of any of them. They all fell for him -- he got along fine with the battery and he was sent overseas in an advanced detail to go to school over there at Coetquidan, I believe the name of the town was. They had a school there and we sent a detail over there to go to school. And then he rejoined the outfit after we got to France and then he commanded "D" Battery all through the war.
FUCHS: Do you have any recollections of seeing him in action in France?
HINDE: I never saw him in action. I was in this Saumur School when they were in action. I missed that. I was detailed, or sent to this French artillery school there. It was kind of a finishing school. I don't
know why they ever picked me because it was a rough son-of-a-gun, I'll tell you that -- unless they wanted to get rid of me. They were sending boys that graduated from West Point over there to this Saumur School -- that was the kind of competition I had. I just had a high school education. There was five, I believe, West Point boys in my class and then I didn't get to see him anymore until we got to a little town called Vavincourt -- that was right back of Verdun.
I reported back to the battery there and from there we went to a little town of Courcemont near Le Mans -- then we came home from there. I was sent from this town of Vavincourt by Colonel Smith, who was then commander of the regiment. I went ahead, as a billeting officer, to this little town of Courcemont and from there I went to Le Mans and from there to Le Havre, France as billeting officer. Then we came home from there. We were together -- pretty closely associated there -- had our usual poker game every night. That was about the only recreation.
FUCHS: In what town did you play poker with him or was that in a number of places?
HINDE: Oh, we played every time we got together. There was a bunch of us -- Father [L. Curtis] Tiernan, who was chaplain; Harry Jobes, captain; Roger Sermon, a captain; Ted Marks; and myself, and Major John L. Miles -- we used to play poker pretty near every night.
FUCHS: In other words, all the officers from Kansas City and Independence.
HINDE: We just had a friendly game. It was just about the only recreation we had.
FUCHS: Did you go to Paris with him by any chance?
HINDE: No, I didn't get to go to Paris with him. I was still in Saumur. When I graduated down at that school, they put me on the staff there and I stayed there 'till the first of February and in that time -- why -- a bunch of them left and went to Paris and took in Paris. No, I didn't get to go, but I guess they had quite a time. I got to Paris after that for a couple of days but not with them. Then, when the school finally closed I reported back to Gondrecourt which is right back of the old front and it was a combat replacement camp. I went from there down to a little town of Vavincourt, where
I rejoined the regiment -- then I stayed with them until I came home from there.
FUCHS: Did you get to the Folies-Bergère and find it a "disgusting spectacle," as Mr. Truman remarked?
HINDE: Well, I didn't have the opportunity to see it. I don't imagine I'd have looked on it like Harry did. I'd kind of enjoyed it I think. No, I went up there with a fellow from this school I was in and we were barred from Paris at that time and we got a pass to a little town named Mons -- that was the other side of Paris. We got in Paris one night and stayed all night there and all the next day we went around seeing the town. Then we had to get on the train and go to Mons and come back so our pass would be good back to this town we were in. We weren't supposed to be in Paris but we just changed trains in Paris. 'Course, it took us twenty-four hours to get the train out but we had a little "hurry up" time -- we didn't get to see as much of Paris as we wanted to.
FUCHS: Why was the restriction on against entrance into Paris?
HINDE: Well, they'd never lifted it. During the war, you see, nobody could go to Paris, that is just on a pleasure trip. And at that time they hadn't lifted it. They later lifted it. I think the President went after that was lifted but when I was there, no soldier, unless he was assigned there, was supposed to be in Paris. As I say, we took our pass to this little town of Mons which was about thirty minutes the other side of Paris. We just rode down there and checked out of Paris and went down to Mons and checked back in. That gave us twenty-four hours more in Paris. We did a little finagling there and got to see the town.
FUCHS: Well then, you would say that when Mr. Truman wrote publicly in his Memoirs, I believe, that the Folies-Bergère was "a disgusting spectacle" that he was sincere and that just wasn't something...?
HINDE: Oh, yeah -- the show was a little risquè, I'd say. And, he never did care much for that stuff. Just like -- you read so much about Harry drinking bourbon, you know, during that campai