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Georgia May Schwabe Oral History Interview

Oral History Interview with
Georgia May Schwabe

Wife of US Congressman Max Schwabe (served 1942-48) of Missouri.

Independence, Missouri
November 27, 1992
by Niel M. Johnson

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


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 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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 May, 1997
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri


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


Oral History Interview with
Georgia May Schwabe


Independence, Missouri
November 27, 1992
by Niel M. Johnson


JOHNSON: I also have here with me June Schwabe, and Maxine Schwabe Lusk. That means you have...

SCHWABE: Two daughters.

JOHNSON: Two daughters. Any sons?

SCHWABE: No sons.

JUNE SCHWABE: Actually it is Dr. June Schwabe.

JOHNSON: What is your field?

JUNE SCHWABE: I'm in education administration.

JOHNSON: Mrs. Schwabe, I'm going to start out by getting a little genealogical information -- your birthplace, birth date and your parents' names.


SCHWABE: Columbia, Missouri, 1906.

JOHNSON: What was your father's name?

SCHWABE: James W. Ashlock.

JOHNSON: And your mother?

SCHWABE: She was a Sappington, Laura Sappington.

JOHNSON: Weren't there Sappingtons at Arrow Rock that are famous?

SCHWABE: Yes, there are a lot of Sappingtons in Missouri.

JOHNSON: Well, for these family historians, we get this sort of information. Of course, you have the two daughters and a son-in-law.

SCHWABE: And great grandchildren.

JOHNSON: Yes, I've met some of them.

JUNE SCHWABE: Three grandchildren.

JOHNSON: Where did you grow up?

SCHWABE: In Columbia [Missouri].

JOHNSON: When did you marry Max Schwabe?


SCHWABE: In 1930, in Columbia.

JOHNSON: What was the month and day?

SCHWABE: July 12, 1930.

JOHNSON: I don't think I got the month and day of your birth date.

SCHWABE: May 1, 1906

JOHNSON: When did your husband get into politics?

SCHWABE: He wasn't. He really wasn't. The only thing he ever wanted to be in was to be a member of Congress, so he was never in politics and that's all he was...

JOHNSON: Well, what was his occupation before he went to Congress?

SCHWABE: Mostly insurance, and then we had a farm and we raised cattle. We did not live on the farm.

JOHNSON: You lived in town and he was in insurance. You also had a cattle farm?

SCHWABE: Yes, and raised black Angus.

JOHNSON: And when did he first run for office?


SCHWABE: In 1942.

LUSK: May I interject that he always studies politics and one of his buddies was Dean William Bradshaw, who was with the University of Missouri.

JUNE SCHWABE: He was a professor in business administration at the University of Missouri at Columbia. Dad loved to study trends, make charts, made all sorts of charts. The district that he lived in was very, very traditionally democratic. The incumbent Congressman at that time Will O. Nelson, he had been in Congress I guess...

SCHWABE: Twenty-one years.

JUNE SCHWABE: So, my dad, through the studies of trends, got the idea that 1942 was a year when a Republican might just slip in.

JOHNSON: Is that right? So he had studied the electoral trends?

SCHWABE: And Will O. Nelson, he was a friend of mine.

JOHNSON: I notice that he is on this list, here.


SCHWABE: Well, he was the man that Max beat. I was a dental assistant and he [Nelson] had his Columbia office next door, and so he used to tell me all about Washington and other things. It was so interesting to me. That was before I was married.

JOHNSON: Oh, I see. So you were acquainted with him before...

SCHWABE: Oh, yes.

JOHNSON: I notice in the 1942 election, the Second District, that your husband apparently won by only 566 votes.

JUNE SCHWABE: I think that's correct.

JOHNSON: According to this count, in 1942 your husband got 37,635 votes and Will Nelson received 37,069.

JUNE SCHWABE: That's about correct.

JOHNSON: In the next election it was even closer.

JUNE SCHWABE: That's correct.

JOHNSON: It was 60,857 to 60,587, a 270 vote margin.

LUSK: That's correct. For many years dad was the only Republican elected for that area. He was first, and I guess the last, until they redistricted him.


JOHNSON: I see. Apparently in '46, the margin grew. Of course, '46 is the year the Republicans got a majority in the House, and he received 44,292 votes to 42, 437 for Will Nelson, so that was a 1,855 vote difference.

LUSK: Wasn't that an off-year for Presidential elections?

JOHNSON: Yes. Yes, '46 was an off year election, which probably helped.

SCHWABE: Then he lost...

JOHNSON: He lost in 1948.

LUSK: He ran again in 1952, I guess it was.

JOHNSON: Do you remember who the opponent was in 1952?

JUNE SCHWABE: Morgan Moulder. Morgan Moulder was the incumbent then, and my dad lost that time by such a small margin that they had to wait. He was ahead, in fact, until the absentee votes were counted and then he finally lost. So it's always like that.

SCHWABE: Joe Martin wanted him to demand a recount, but he didn't want to.

JOHNSON: Do you remember when he, or you, first met Harry Truman? Did you meet Harry Truman?


SCHWABE: Oh sure. I guess I really knew him when he was Vice President.

JOHNSON: Did you know him when he was a Senator?

SCHWABE: I knew her, but I did not know him.

JOHNSON: You mean you knew Bess?

SCHWABE: Yes. I remember we had a Missouri delegation dinner out at the country club, and they were there. I sat by him. I remember him telling me that momma said, "Why can't you come to see me without all these people coming with you?" She was sick and tired of it.

JOHNSON: You mean...

SCHWABE: That's what Harry told me. That his momma said...

JOHNSON: Oh, his mother, Martha Ellen.

SCHWABE: Whatever her name was.

JOHNSON: This would have been a Missouri delegation meeting? Do you know when this was?

SCHWABE: We had a lot of different clubs. We had the 78th Club; that was the women, and they were always non-partisan. That was [named for] the Congress that Max was elected to...


JUNE SCHWABE: When they're first elected, they have a club.

SCHWABE: Each year of Congress has a club, and then we had the Missouri delegation. That was the one where I really knew her, because she was a Senator's wife, and we only had about ten or twelve members. She was just a lovely lady.

JOHNSON: So you met Bess Truman when her husband was Senator?

SCHWABE: Oh yes. Yes, that's when I really knew her.

JOHNSON: But you say you didn't meet Mr. Truman until after he became Vice President.

SCHWABE: Max knew him well, but I didn't. I had met him. Once a month, at that time, they had a meeting for all of the people that were from Missouri, in Washington. They'd have a big dance and party out at the Shoreham Hotel.

JOHNSON: Is this the Congressional delegation from Missouri, and their families?

SCHWABE: Yes, this was the whole thing.

JUNE SCHWABE: That, as well as what I believe you are saying: all Missourians that were living in the area.


SCHWABE: Were invited to this.

JOHNSON: All Missourians living in Washington...

SCHWABE: Yes, or working there.

JUNE SCHWABE: Or involved in Government in some way.

JOHNSON: You couldn't do that nowadays.

SCHWABE: But it was nice. They had them about once a month. They'd have a big dance and party at the Shoreham Hotel. And all of the Members of Congress and the President would have to stand in the receiving line, and meet all the people.

JOHNSON: So, Senator Truman was in the receiving line.

SCHWABE: Oh, sure.

JUNE SCHWABE: I remember, mother and daddy took us. We were such lovely well behaved little girls, that they took us along to a lot of these things. I recall dancing with Harry. As a little girl he asked me to dance around with him.

JOHNSON: Is that right, because he wasn't known as a dancer?

JUNE SCHWABE: I know that.


SCHWABE: Neither was my husband.

JUNE SCHWABE: And nobody believes me when I say that.

JOHNSON: Twirled you around a little.

JUNE SCHWABE: But he danced with both of us.

JOHNSON: And you were about how old?

JUNE SCHWABE: I was maybe in fifth grade.

LUSK: About thirteen and twelve years old. Young girls, we should say.

JOHNSON: Well, what about your first impressions of Harry Truman?

SCHWABE: I don't know.

JOHNSON: Did you think he was a good Senator at the time?

SCHWABE: I didn't think anything about it. I liked him.

JOHNSON: Did you vote for him?


LUSK: Only because she didn't vote for Democrats.

JOHNSON: Were you traditionally Republicans in your family?



JUNE SCHWABE: No, but my father was. And so she voted Republican.

LUSK: At that time you always voted the straight ticket. They didn't split the ticket. You put your X under the elephant or under the donkey.

JOHNSON: A straight ticket. Party loyalty?