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Truman Library Martha Ann Swoyer Oral History Interview

Martha Ann (Truman) Swoyer

Oral History Interview
with
Martha Ann Swoyer

Daughter of Vivian Truman and niece of
Harry S. Truman.

Oskaloosa, Kansas
October 28, 1983
Niel M. Johnson

See also Martha Ann Swoyer Papers finding aid

[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.

As an electronic publication of the Truman Library, users should note that features of the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview, such as pagination and indexing, could not be replicated for this online version of the Martha Ann Swoyer transcript.

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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 December, 1983
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

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



Oral History Interview with
MARTHA ANN SWOYER

Oskaloosa, Kansas
October 28, 1983
Niel M. Johnson

 

[1]

JOHNSON: We're checking at the moment some of the sketches of the farm house, and the farm site, and Mrs. Swoyer has a sketch of the farm site in front of her. [See appendices for sketches of site and home interior.]

SWOYER: These are not fir trees. They were pine trees.

JOHNSON: Okay, pine trees. If you see anything that needs revising or correcting, let's make note of it right now.

SWOYER: As I remember, there was a clump of pine trees out toward this corner, and then there were pine trees closer to this sidewalk.

 

[2]

JOHNSON: So the pine trees were toward the southwest corner of the house lot?

SWOYER: Yes.

JOHNSON: How about over here?

SWOYER: I don't remember any evergreens out in the north yard. There were pine trees here in this corner (southwest of house), probably three of them. And then there were two up toward the sidewalk, towards the south gate.

JOHNSON: I should mention that we have made some sketches of some of the items that were in the house. I would like to cover that again, but before we do we have this question about the kitchen. You say there was a smaller kitchen here before the present one was added on?

SWOYER: Yes, I think there was. I think so.

JOHNSON: Do you have any idea when that was enlarged as it is now?

 

[3]

SWOYER: No, I don't.

JOHNSON: But you have a vague recollection of an earlier kitchen, which was set back a little.

SWOYER: Well, I remember something about them changing it.

JOHNSON: This then has always been the dining room?

SWOYER: As I know it, yes. Except there was no door between the dining room and the sitting room.

JOHNSON: Right. Could I ask you what are your first memories of the farm house? We're talking about, what, early thirties or around 1930?

SWOYER: I think twenties. See, I was born in 1919.

JOHNSON: Okay. What are your first recollections of the farm?

SWOYER: Well, I can remember going to family dinners there, and we always ate there in the dining room, and we always used the good china, which I

 

[4]

now have. We always laughed that Mamma Truman would never use the good silverware; she wanted her old bone-handle knife that would cut things, because, of course, knives then didn't have serrated edges like they do now. I can remember Mamma Truman would always let us children have coffee that was mostly cream.

She'd put sugar and lots of cream in it, and we thought we were having coffee. She always sat at the west end of the table, and she had an aluminum coffee pot. She always said she just drank one cup of coffee, but she always kept heating her coffee up out of that aluminum coffee pot. I asked Aunt Mary for that coffee pot and she gave it to me, and I have it. I always remember it there at the end of the table by Mamma Truman.

JOHNSON: That means they brought the food from the kitchen into the dining room through this door?

SWOYER: Oh yes, the dining room table was close here.

 

[5]

JOHNSON: Where did the dining room table sit ordinarily?

SWOYER: Well, it sat right here.

JOHNSON: You're talking about the south?

SWOYER: By the south wall. Close to the south wall.

JOHNSON: Was it a rectangular table?

SWOYER: The table could be square, but it always had one leaf in it.

JOHNSON: Do you know what happened to that table?

SWOYER: It's in my kitchen. It's pictured here in a recent photograph. They always had an oil cloth tacked on it, a plain white oil cloth. But in the later years it was one of these that was kind of embossed, and that was always tacked on the table. When we would have family dinners, Aunt Mary, of course, would get out the linen table cloth.

JOHNSON: Were there almost always some guests on

 

[6]

Sunday for Sunday dinner? Apparently there were back in the early days.

SWOYER: Probably earlier; not in later years.

These were Mamma Truman's dining room chairs. And these were Grandma Young's chairs. They had the split hickory bottom. I can remember, oh, probably in the early thirties, Mamma Truman had those redone. They're split hickory, and a fellow that lived over there on High Grove Road, Brak (Breckenridge) Clements, did that work. He got the hickory out of the woods and fixed that split hickory. I have three of those, and I have six of these chairs.

JOHNSON: Six of the type that are in this picture?

SWOYER: Yes, and I never have had those refinished. Fred has one that he has refinished, real pretty; had it re-caned.

JOHNSON: These were used at the dining room table.

SWOYER: Yes.

 

[7]

JOHNSON: Was there a table in the kitchen?

SWOYER: There was a base table with the drawers and a slant drawer that pulled out. It wasn't a possum-belly type because it was straight.

JOHNSON: Was that a table or counter you're talking about?

SWOYER: Well, more like a counter. I mean it's like a table on top, with drawers under it. I think it was just inside the kitchen door.

JOHNSON: As you walked into the kitchen?

SWOYER: Yes. To the left as you walked in from the dining room.

Of course, the stove was over here, the wood stove, by the chimney.

JOHNSON: Is this a picture of the cabinet with the flour drawer?

SWOYER: No. I'11 send you a picture of it sometime.

JOHNSON: Yes, I'd like to have that. We've got to

 

[8]

make this as authentic as we can. The chimney has always been right in the middle of the east wall, hasn't it?

SWOYER: Yes.

JOHNSON: Did they use one of those old ranges...

SWOYER: With a warming oven up above.

JOHNSON: And reservoir?

SWOYER: Yes, and a water reservoir.

JOHNSON: What else do you recall being in the kitchen?

SWOYER: Well, I think the pie safe I have sat over here. You can take a picture of it. It is in the basement of this building.

JOHNSON: Was there another doorway?

SWOYER: I don't remember how it was before they remodeled this kitchen.

JOHNSON: Could you tell me more about the counter?

SWOYER: It's the type of thing that they set another

 

[9]

cabinet on top of, you know. It was like a table, but you've got drawers. You've got small drawers here.

JOHNSON: We're going to do a little art work here.

SWOYER: You see, this is the drawer that tilts out, right here, and then there's three of these drawers on the side that had these old iron drawer-pulls on them.

JOHNSON: Is there anything else about the kitchen before we leave it?

SWOYER: In the summertime they had a coal oil stove in there.

JOHNSON: They had this wood range, but they also had a coal oil stove?

SWOYER: In the summertime. I can't remember where it sat, but in the summertime they used a coal oil stove, because it was so hot.

JOHNSON: What would that have looked like?

 

[10]

SWOYER: It looked just like the early gas stoves, and probably had one of those ovens that you could lift on and off of the stove.

JOHNSON: When was that?

SWOYER: I don't know, but they used coal oil stoves early. Mamma Truman and Aunt Mary had one of those little round coal oil heaters that stood, what, about three feet high. They used to carry it upstairs into Aunt Mary's room to take the chill off. Of course, Mamma Truman wouldn't sleep in the south room unless it was extremely cold. They didn't have any heat either in the parlor below unless someone was coming. Aunt Mary's room would get heat from the sun and the sitting room, and if it got too awfully cold, Mamma Truman would go across and sleep with Aunt Mary. But most of the time she slept in that cold bedroom.

JOHNSON: Do you remember the location of Martha Ellen's bed? Was it against the south wall?

 

[11]

SWOYER: It certainly was, and I remember when we would go up to bed, she would make shadow pictures on this wall.

JOHNSON: I've heard about that. From the lamp, from the lamp that was over...

SWOYER: The lamp must have been over here. I don't remember. I can't remember for sure, but they had one of those old square tables that everybody had, that had the spindle legs and it was--oh, it must have been about thirty inches square, and maybe a smaller square down low on the floor. That was in our attic at one time after Mamma Truman and Aunt Mary moved. I can't remember for sure where that was, but I wonder if that wasn't up there by her bed as a lamp table.

JOHNSON: Maybe against the inside wall here.

SWOYER: Yes, because she would make pictures on this wall, shadow pictures.

JOHNSON: On the east wall.

 

[12]

SWOYER: Yes.

JOHNSON: Where was the head of her bed, towards the east?

SWOYER: The head was right here against the south wall. The lamp stand would have been next to her bed, on the west side.

JOHNSON: I've indicated a dresser over here in the corner. Do you recall anything about that?

SWOYER: Well, I kind of thought it was against the north wall, but I wouldn't swear to that. And here's the dresser in this recent photograph.

JOHNSON: That's the dresser that was in Martha Truman's room?

SWOYER: Here's the bottom of it, and here's the top. That is the Robert E. Lee picture that Uncle Harry brought her in the thirties, that always hung beside the dresser as I remember it. It is on the front of the dresser there.

 

[13]

JOHNSON: Robert E. Lee?

SWOYER: Yes.

JOHNSON: That's a symbol of certain loyalties. The dresser is fancy isn't it? That was solid or veneered?

SWOYER: Oh, no, solid walnut, with burl inlay.

JOHNSON: That looks great.

Now, we've gone from the kitchen up to Martha Ellen's bedroom. Again, is there anything we have not covered about the kitchen?

SWOYER: No; the only things I have from the kitchen are that pie safe and that kitchen cabinet.

JOHNSON: Maybe I could ask you some questions about the dining room.

SWOYER: All right.

JOHNSON: We talked about the dining room table and the chairs. We mentioned the "press" or the

 

[14]

cabinet here, the one on the north side.

SWOYER: And Aunt Mary's roll-top desk always sat over in this corner, as long as I can remember. It sat against the north wall, on the west side of the dining room. And Harry Arnold [Truman], my brother, has that.

JOHNSON: I've heard quite a bit about that roll-top desk. That was probably where Harry wrote most of those letters to Bess. He mentions, though, that sometimes he got so much attention while he was writing these letters, he'd go upstairs to be by himself.

SWOYER: Also, you may want to know that they always kept the milk in the cellar as they called it. They carried these big milk crocks up and down those steps. If we wanted cream for breakfast when we stayed over there, we went to the cellar and skimmed the cream off the crock.

JOHNSON: Well the milk was in the crock, and they let the cream...

 

[15]

MR. SWOYER: Rise.

JOHNSON: That's kind of heavy, carrying those crocks.

SWOYER: They'd carry them up and down every day.

JOHNSON: I remember on the farm we had those cream cans that had the lid that slid down into the mouth of the cream can. Did you ever see that kind of cream can?

SWOYER: No, not over there. When I would see them Father would take the milk by for them.

I've got two of the crocks. One of them has come to pieces; it was cracked when I got it. And the other one has a crack in it, but those are two of the crocks that they actually used. Actually, I think maybe I have some more of them.

JOHNSON: And you would skim the cream.

SWOYER: Yes.

JOHNSON: Did they sell any milk? Did they have this just for their own use?

 

[16]

SWOYER: Yes, just for their own use.

JOHNSON: Were there any pictures hanging on the wall? We're in the dining room.

SWOYER: Yes, there was a bird dog picture. I gave you a picture of it. I'm not sure where it hung, but it was on that south wall,

JOHNSON: That's the only picture you recall. Then the portraits of the grandparents that were hanging...

SWOYER: In the sitting room. Four big pictures were always in the sitting room. One of Father and Uncle Harry and Grandpa Truman and Grandpa Young.

JOHNSON: One of the questions that has come up about the dining room is where the stove was. By the way, that stove probably stood this way didn't it?

SWOYER: Yes, and it sat right in front of a little closet under the stairway.

JOHNSON: Do you remember which flue the pipe was

 

[17]

connected to? There is a flue just inside the closet and there's one outside. Do you recall anything at all?

SWOYER: No, I don't remember anything about that, but I know it sat in front of that closet. And it was an oval. stove.

JOHNSON: What access did they have then from the sitting room into the dining room?

SWOYER: Mamma Truman and Aunt Mary would go from the sitting room through the cold hall into the dining room. Father wanted them to cut a door in directly from the sitting room and they wouldn't do it. After Harry Arnold lived there, the present doorway between the two rooms was put in.

JOHNSON: So you're talking about the 1940's I guess that the door was put in.

SWOYER: The late forties.

JOHNSON: Has this always been a closet or storage area under the stairs, with that door? Has that

 

[18]

door always been there, the one that's there now?

SWOYER: Well, there's always been that closet there and a door.

JOHNSON: The dining room table must have been about right here, with chairs all the way around. You would have had to have room for chairs, the way they talk of all the guests that they would have at times, I suppose. But you say in this part of the room?

SWOYER: Yes, that's right.

JOHNSON: Anything else in that room that is worth mentioning? Where did she keep the china? Was that kept in this built-in cabinet?

SWOYER: I'm not sure which. She had dishes in both cabinets.

JOHNSON: There is a bathroom now off the dining room. Was there any wall there in the early days?

SWOYER: No. No, there was no wall.

 

[19]

JOHNSON: They had no pantry?

SWOYER: No.

JOHNSON: You said you thought there was cupboard space they had in the kitchen.

SWOYER: And they kept some in this cabinet.

JOHNSON: Canned vegetables and fruit--were they stored in the basement? Did they have shelving in the basement for that?

SWOYER: Well, they stored some things along the north wall where you go down to the basement--to the cellar.

JOHNSON: Did they cold-pack, what they called cold-pack?

SWOYER: I don't remember them canning. They could have, but I don't recall.

JOHNSON: As far as the cellar was concerned, everything down there was the crocks of milk?

SWOYER: And some kinds of vegetables and things that

 

[20]

way.

JOHNSON: Kind of a root cellar of sorts?

SWOYER: Yes. It was always damp down there and it had a rock floor, and they would keep the milk cool.

JOHNSON: Now apparently there was a root cellar out in the yard, toward the southwest from the back door, southwest of the back door.

SWOYER: I don't remember it.

JOHNSON: Any other furniture there in the dining room that we should mention before we leave that?

SWOYER: It's been a while. I don't know,

JOHNSON: How about the front hallway. Now you've mentioned a telephone.

SWOYER: I think the telephone was there; the hall tree was here, and there was a chest of drawers that always sat there.

JOHNSON: A chest of drawers there?

 

[21]

SWOYER: Back in the corner, under the landing. This clock always sat on the chest of drawers; it never ran, but that clock was on that chest of drawers. You can't have this picture, but I'11 get you one.

JOHNSON: Is that a family heirloom?

SWOYER: I don't know where it came from, but it was always there. It's black. I just thought it was an old marble clock, but when I brought it home, I found it's a heavy metal.

JOHNSON: What happened to the chest of drawers?

SWOYER: I don't know. It was probably a four-drawer chest.

JOHNSON: But the clock was on top. Okay, there was the hall tree, the phone, the chest of drawers, and...

SWOYER: And I can tell you what that hall tree looked like, because I took it home. I made a bed table out of it. It had a marble top, this part of it,

 

[22]

and had a door. Then there was a kind of a shelf here, and this is open. There was an umbrella stand here with a metal drip pan alongside a little shelf here. I don't know, but this was low. Then the mirror came clear above it. I've got the mirror and the boys cut that out for me. Then this part of it had the hooks on here.

JOHNSON: You're talking about the frame, around the mirror.

SWOYER: Coat hooks. Yes, the frame around had the coat hooks. I have those coat hooks, and the mirror. With the rest of it I made a bed table.

JOHNSON: I see. So you are making use of it ail?

SWOYER: I have the mirror and coat hooks. I want to put them back on something some time, those coat hooks. They are made of brass.

JOHNSON: Never rusted then.

SWOYER: So that's all I remember in the hall downstairs.

 

[23]

JOHNSON: All right. We've been to the dining room and kitchen. We've said something about the sitting room, and we had these pictures on the wall.

SWOYER: In later years, that wicker sofa, it seems to me, was in the southwest corner of the sitting room.

JOHNSON: D o you know what was there before it?

SWOYER: No, I don't know.

JOHNSON: Apparently Martha Truman, Mamma Truman as you call her, often sat there and did her reading.

SWOYER: Well, she read a lot, usually while sitting in a rocking chair. There was an oak library table. As I remember it, it always sat probably where this door was cut. I don't know who got that. It was there when we divided up Aunt Mary's things.

JOHNSON: An oak library table?

 

[24]

SWOYER: Yes. I'm pretty sure that was in the sitting room.

JOHNSON: What would that look like?

MR. SWOYER: Just a big heavy table. It was a long table, 40 - 44 inches long, and had a big drawer in the middle and a shelf underneath.

SWOYER: I don't believe it had book shelves on the side did it?

JOHNSON: Was the drawer across the middle, and maybe 44 x 24, or something on that order?

SWOYER: Standard, old library table.

JOHNSON: Are we talking about walnut furniture?

SWOYER: No, it was dark oak. That was oak.

JOHNSON: Was all their furniture either oak, or walnut? No mahogany furniture? Would it have been dark generally?

SWOYER: Oak isn't too dark.

 

[25]

JOHNSON: Where do you think that library table might have stood?

SWOYER: I think the library table was over here as I remember it.

JOHNSON: Where the present doorway comes in?

SWOYER: Yes.

JOHNSON: You said there was a wicker sofa here in later years. What kind of sofa was there earlier, do you think?

SWOYER: I don't know. You might ask J.C. and Fred if they remember where that old leather-covered one was.

Also, in the later years there were two rocking chairs in that sitting room.

JOHNSON: You remember two wicker rockers, but was that later, though, in the thirties?

SWOYER: Well I don't know. Those could have been later chairs. They had the woven bottoms and

 

[26]

woven backs and a cushion hung from the back and in the seat.

JOHNSON: Did they have flat sides? You know we had one all wicker rocker and...

SWOYER: No, this one wasn't all wicker. Just this back was wicker and the seat was wicker.

JOHNSON: There were two of those in that sitting room

SWOYER: There was a big high-back one, and then one that wasn't quite so tall.

JOHNSON: And you don't know what happened to those?

SWOYER: No. I don't remember whether they were still there when Aunt Mary died or not.

JOHNSON: Anything else you recall about that room?

SWOYER: I don't remember, right now, anything else.

JOHNSON: In the parlor we've mentioned a chair over here, the piano probably being here in the

 

[27]

wintertime at least, and possibly here the rest of the year. You mentioned a couple of small chairs.

SWOYER: There was that little painted chair and that little circular thing. Surely there were more chairs in there than that.

JOHNSON: The tufted leather sofa that sat on the oak frame might have been in the dining room you say?

SWOYER: No, I don't know where it was. All I can remember is when Mamma Truman got it caught, trying to get it up the back stairs. She sawed the legs off, and nailed them back on when she got it upstairs.

JOHNSON: Sawed the legs off. That's a drastic move to make, but I suppose it probably worked.

Anything else--how about pictures on the wall?

SWOYER: Well, I had that pansy picture that Ethel painted, and I have a little gold-framed picture--

 

[28]

those two pictures. I can't recall what else was in there.

MR. SWOYER: What about the horse picture?

SWOYER: They always referred to that as being Father's and it was over home. It's hanging on the wall behind you.

JOHNSON: Your father, Vivian. You don't know whether that was in the family or not?

SWOYER: Well, he would have taken it when he married and he was married in 1911.

JOHNSON: In other words, that could have been hanging in the farm home until he married in 1911?

SWOYER: Probably.

JOHNSON: There's a circular picture of two horses looking through a barn door. [On the wall, second floor of the law office.]

SWOYER: Yes. I've seen that picture printed in an early reader that I saw somewhere.

 

[29]

JOHNSON: Do you have a picture of that by the way? May I take a picture of it?

SWOYER: You may take a picture of it.

JOHNSON: Okay, I'll just shoot it before I go, and anything else that you think that would be worth taking, I'll be glad to do it.

Let us go back up to the second floor, to the front bedrooms again. This is where the bed was in Mamma Truman's room; a lamp stand here, a dresser you're not too certain...

SWOYER: I kind of thought it was against the north wall but I can't say for sure.

JOHNSON: Probably somewhere over here on the north wall, the dresser. Is there any other item of furniture in the room? The lamp stand next to her bed. Pictures on the wall?

SWOYER: I don't remember. I know there was none on the east wall.

JOHNSON: That would be a cold room in the winter.

 

[30]

Why did she like it cold?

SWOYER: Well, she had a feather bed and she always had a whole stack of blankets, and we'd snuggle down into the blankets.

MR. SWOYER: Wouldn't you put anything hot into the bed?

SWOYER: Yes, we'd heat an old iron and take up to bed with us.

JOHNSON: Did she have any down-filled comforters or quilts, or did she have any patchwork quilts that she used on those beds?

SWOYER: I can remember mostly blankets.

JOHNSON: Blankets. You don't remember any crazy quilt or patchwork quilts?

SWOYER: Of course, I have a quilt that her mother made after she was 70 years, after the house burned, but it wasn't used every day. It is one Grandma Young made and quilted.

 

[31]

JOHNSON: Do you have a picture of that? When we started reconstruction of something, the more details we have...

SWOYER: I'll have to get you a picture of that bed, because I have the bed.

MR. SWOYER: But it's stored.

SWOYER: It's stored and I'll have to get it out.

JOHNSON: Did it have one of the large, high-top headboards?

SWOYER: No, it didn't have a great big headboard. It's not an elaborate bed.

JOHNSON: That would make a good museum piece too, you know.

You mentioned a kerosene heater that they used in later years?

SWOYER: Yes.

JOHNSON: Do you know what happened to that kerosene heater?

 

[32]

SWOYER: No, I wouldn't know. A run of the mill type.

JOHNSON: Now we go over here to Mary Jane's bedroom. Do you want to draw in, or sketch in where her bed and furniture were?

SWOYER: Her bed was here. Then it seems to me that her wash stand was here, a little oak wash stand.

JOHNSON: There is a little closet here, by the way.

SWOYER: I think so. And I think the wash stand was there. I have the walnut piece that was in her bedroom.

JOHNSON: A dresser you mean?

SWOYER: Well, it's low. It has two small shallow drawers and then the drawers on the side with a marble top, and then it had a big tall mirror.

JOHNSON: Where was that located?

SWOYER: I'm not sure where that was. Then she had a cute little dressing table with the triple mirror

 

[33]

that matched her bed, and a little vanity seat.

JOHNSON: Were these walnut?

SWOYER: No. Her bed and vanity were not walnut, I think that when she decided at 85 years old she wanted a new bedroom suite, that Harry and Gilbert's hired man, Buster, took that.

JOHNSON: Buster what?

SWOYER: I can't tell you what his name is. They always refer to him as Buster.

JOHNSON: But he probably has it.

SWOYER: He probably has that bed and little vanity.

JOHNSON: Where does he live?

SWOYER: Down at Louisburg, on the boys' place.

JOHNSON: Anything else in that room? Anything else about the vanity?

SWOYER: She had what I'd call a vanity, with the triple mirror, and a little bench in front of

 

[34]

it that matched her bed.

JOHNSON: And you think that went to Buster too?

SWOYER: I kind of think it did. And there was always a picture of Aunt Mary, I remember, up on the wall.

There was always a hunting scene picture that hung over here by her bed somewhere, and it was still in the house when she died. It was a rather small picture, but it was the hunt scene with the horses and dogs, the red coats.

JOHNSON: After the foxes I guess.

SWOYER: It was a rather small picture. It wasn't a great big one. It always hung over here by her bed somewhere. Also she had a cupid picture in her bedroom.

JOHNSON: Do you know what happened to the hunt scene?

SWOYER: No, but it was there when she died.

JOHNSON: So we've got three items. We've got the

 

[35]

bed, the wash stand, and now the vanity...

SWOYER: I can't tell you exactly where those were--the vanity and dresser.

JOHNSON: Did the vanity include a dresser, or are we talking about separate pieces?

SWOYER: I would say separate pieces. The dresser was walnut, and I'll get you a picture of that.

JOHNSON: This is the three…

SWOYER: Mirrors. I always admired that. Then there was always--what would you say--a triple picture of Aunt Mary which hung on that wall when she was quite young. I think I have those pictures that I'll let you have if you'll hang it up there.

JOHNSON: Okay.

SWOYER: I can't tell you just where they were, but they were in there. Those are the items that I remember being in Aunt Mary's room.

JOHNSON: Did she have a stove, or just a register?

 

[36]

SWOYER: There was a register there. She didn't have a stove.

Then in this hallway (second floor, front) there was a blanket chest, and that was up at Aunt Mary's when she died. And the sewing machine was always up here. Well, it wouldn't have been out on this side, because that would be the passageway. Now it seems to me the sewing machine was here by the rail. I kind of thought this blanket chest was over here by this front window. And that was still there when Aunt Mary died.

JOHNSON: There is a window above that?

SWOYER: Well, I thought so.

JOHNSON: So you would be facing out the window, looking down the grove of trees.

SWOYER: Well, it wouldn't have been across the window.

JOHNSON: So it would have been on one side or the other you think of the window?

 

[37]

SWOYER: Yes. As I say, I don't remember the door being there.

JOHNSON: This would have been Martha Ellen's bedroom. This would be your west window and the north window in that corner there. Do you recall anything back in the corner of that bedroom?

SWOYER: No, I don't remember.

JOHNSON: There is a flue upstairs, as if there was a stove up there.

SWOYER: Well, I never remember them having a stove upstairs.

JOHNSON: Neither did your brothers.

SWOYER: But I'm sure that blanket chest was up in that upstairs hallway somewhere and the sewing machine was up there.

JOHNSON: This would be Harry Truman's bedroom. Do you remember this wardrobe that stood up there at the head of the stairs by Harry Truman's

 

[38]

bedroom?

SWOYER: No, I don't.

JOHNSON: We're looking to the south, through that window in that upstairs bedroom above the dining room. Do you recall what that looked like, your early recollection?

SWOYER: When I remembered it they were using it for a store room, more or less. It wasn't furnished, as such, and that's where Mamma Truman took the leather-covered couch.

JOHNSON: Oh, that's where she was trying to get it, around the curve here I suppose.

SWOYER: Yes.

JOHNSON: So you don't remember any beds that stood up there, or how many beds there might have been in that room?

SWOYER: I do know that when I was in grade school they gave a wooden bed to a man by the name of

 

[39]

Flynn that burned out, that was out of the back upstairs.

JOHNSON: Well, Mrs. Hannah Clements Montgomery remembered from World War I, being taken up there to Harry Truman's bedroom, and his mother Martha Ellen showed her some Jews harps.

SWOYER: That was Uncle Harrison's. I remember Mamma Truman playing a Jews harp. I think maybe one of the boys has that Jews harp.

JOHNSON: And he had a trunk or something there I believe.

SWOYER: Of course, in later years, I can remember Uncle Harry's Army trunk being up there.

JOHNSON: Do you recall a German army helmet with a spike on it?

SWOYER: Yes. That was in the back upstairs in later years.

JOHNSON: Do you know what happened to that? We have

 

[40]

gas masks I believe, and we have his uniform, but I wonder what happened to that helmet.

SWOYER: I remember Aunt Mary showing me the bottle of wine that's supposed to go to the last survivor of Battery D, and that was in that trunk up there at the back upstairs.

JOHNSON: Anything else that strikes you about mementos in that room? Probably a number of things were kept there after he got married and left the farm, a number of his mementos were up there.

You have mentioned having his grade school essays?

SWOYER: High school.

JOHNSON: High school I mean. High school essay books. Anything else? You've mentioned items of furniture. You have an old family bible, the Holmes Bible, and we have a xerox copy of the material in it on genealogy. Any other books from the house that you remember?

 

[41]

SWOYER: I have a McGuffey's speller.

JOHNSON: You have a McGuffey's speller.

SWOYER: It has Uncle Harry's name in it, and Father's name in it, and Aunt Mary's name in it.

JOHNSON: That he used in the Noland School maybe?

SWOYER: I don't know.

JOHNSON: Or Columbian.

SWOYER: I'm sure it's a McGuffey's.

JOHNSON: You don't have any of the bookcases though?

SWOYER: No, J.C. or Fred has the bookcase. I think it was in the parlor.

JOHNSON: The one you recall is that one glass-front bookcase?

SWOYER: Yes. And Harry has the roll-top desk.

JOHNSON: Harry S. Truman did a lot of reading.

According to his letters, he and Bess were

 

[42]

trading books and did quite a bit of reading. Did he keep his books in that glass bookcase?

SWOYER: Probably.

JOHNSON: Or did he have another one?

SWOYER: I don't know.

Then I have the round-top trunk that Mamma Truman took to boarding school.

JOHNSON: Over to Lexington, to the female seminary?

SWOYER: She went to Mrs. Warren's. She stayed with Mrs. Warren.

And then I have Grandma Young's oak clock. They had the kind with pressed design in them you know.

JOHNSON: Where did that stand?

SWOYER: I don't know. But I have the clock.

JOHNSON: Now you said that clock, the antique, that metal clock...

SWOYER: Was always in the hall.

 

[43]

JOHNSON: ...and didn't work.

SWOYER: Not that I know of.

JOHNSON: What clock did they use to keep time? Do you recall any clock that they used?

SWOYER: I remember an alarm clock being over there. And then I have some dishes that belonged to Mamma Truman.

JOHNSON: Some of the china. How about the silverware?

SWOYER: I have the bone-handle knives, and I have the flat irons that were Mamma Truman's. I paint