Motion Picture MP2002-262A
Henry Chiles, childhood friend and neighbor of Harry S. Truman, is interviewed by Merle Miller. Sound only.
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0:00 Henry Chiles is describing the shooting and death of Jim Crow in Independence, Missouri, and Jim Crow’s blind son, who was shooting also. Mr. Chiles’ sister doesn’t like him talking about Jim Crow.
Miller: Did your family know the Young family?
Chiles: In those days of no telephones, every person of importance in one county knew everyone of importance in another county. They were at different ends of the county, but I’m sure they knew each other. My father, Franklin Chiles, I’m sure knew Harry’s grandfather.
1:24 Miller: Those games you played as children, did Vivian play the games?
Chiles: Vivian was as rough and tough as any of them. He didn’t have to wear glasses. We both had ponies and would race them along River Road.
2:00 Chiles: Well, I don’t like to talk about it, but you had your factions, goats and rabbits. I was a rabbit, supported Shannon, and Harry was a goat, supported Pendergast. Well, the goats won, but Tom Pendergast turned over the patronage jobs to his brother Mike, who had Harry fire all the rabbits. So we were sore and put up a man against Harry in the election, who beat him. I ran into Harry later and he said there were no hard feelings. He was doing what his gang told him and I was doing what my gang told me. I visited him in the White House and I saw him in his courthouse office, and he autographed a book for my son, Jack, who was going to West Point. Every time I saw Harry he asked about Jack.
4:13 Voice: Unsound 20
4:24 Chiles: First I knew of him he was living down the alley from me. He went one or two years to Columbian School and I went to Ott School. But we met on common ground in high school. We went through the 4 years of high school. At the time, the high school was three rooms at the top of Ott School, 1897 to 1901. The high school is gone, they moved up to what is the junior high school now.
5:35 Miller: What kind of games did you play?
Chiles: Baseball, ponies (roping and riding), in winter we skated and play shinny on ice (sort of a forerunner of ice hockey).
5:55 Chiles: No, I don’t think they did, they had respect for Harry. If there was an argument, they’d save it up and let Harry settle it.
6:15 Chiles: No, I don’t remember now. Bess lived on Delaware Street. Frank and I would play together. Bess would set her brothers straight. The Wallace’s lived next to the Paxton’s who were all boys. She was an athletic girl, later the most gracious lady I ever knew. Her mother was a typical southern lady, one of the nicest, kindest ladies you’d ever meet.
7:49 Chiles: I don’t remember, but I heard Harry’s cousin lived across the street . . .