Motion Picture MP2002-265A
Merle Miller talks to Jane Chiles (childhood friend of Harry S. Truman and Margaret Truman’s teacher) and her sister Susan Chiles. This excerpt is the same as part of a larger interview in MP2002-601, from 11:58 to 23:12. Sound only.
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0:00 Voice: “24 take 1 Sound 24” Miller: Don’t pay any attention to me. Say you’re thinking about Harry Truman and a picture comes to mind. Just talk together.
Susan Chiles: She speaks of World War I. Roger Sermon was there. Harry was kind to the other men. If they were tired he let them ride on the carryall and he would walk.
Miller: If you were an artist, what would you do?
Susan Chiles: Harry laid his books down but not his history book and he told Vivian where they were wrong. I know he would have liked to be in that play.
Jane Chiles: If she were an artist, she would like a picture of Bess with her beautiful hair. She was not particularly beautiful, but her hair was. She has that shrill whistle and the boys paid attention. [After this they speak back and forth and it is difficult to tell between one sister and another] The most beautiful picture would be Mrs. [Madge Gates] Wallace with Bess on one hand and Frank on the other. I could paint a picture of Harry with his music box and history book. He kind of hid that history book. His mother was intent on that music.
3:53 Chiles: They had a wonderful time, Bess, Harry, and the gang. Bess didn’t play with them but she settled things.
Chiles: Another time was when he was elected President and we went to the courthouse for his speech.
Jane: He said things but above all he thanked people for him being elected President. There was a huge crowd and people brought their children. It showed how proud Independence was of Harry. We are still proud of Harry.
Miller: How about Mr. Truman’s early speeches – were they pretty good?
Susan Chiles: Before he was judge he hesitated, it wasn’t very good. But his Senatorial speech was good. When we heard his presidential speech there was no hesitation. He knew what he was going to do. What I like is that he grew.
Miller: Did the White House change either Mr. or Mrs. Truman?
Chiles: I don’t think living at the White House changed them. One time they tried to abduct Margaret and the poor thing had to have someone guard her. Margaret said she’d be glad to not have guards.
Voice: “cut.” Miller: “very good”
Voice: “25 take 1, sound 25” Miller: Talk about Truman’s mother.
Chiles: They didn’t know her. "We knew his Aunt Martha Truman.” What you heard about his mother was that she wanted Harry to have something so he wouldn’t notice the defect in his eyes too much. Aunt Martha Truman was a teacher, not at the same time as Jane. She was a popular teacher.
Miller: If you were talking to someone who didn’t know what kind of family the Truman’s were, what would you say?
Chiles: We don’t know much about them, the family went back to President Tyler.
Jane: I would say they wanted education, highly refined, did all they could to uplift that family. We know the Noland’s very well. They lived here when we moved here.
Miller: What did you feel the day President Roosevelt died?
Chiles: Oh, we were sunk. We admired him greatly. It was a shock and we didn’t think anyone could take his place. He didn’t take his place, but Harry built a place for himself.