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Motion Picture MP2002-552

Screen Gems Collection (outtakes from the television series "Decision: The Conflicts of Harry S. Truman")

Administrative Information

Original Format(s)
Motion Picture
1100 feet
Running Time
32 minutes 25 seconds
Film Gauge
magnetic soundtrack
Produced by
Screen Gems in association with Ben Gradus
Received from the will of Harry S. Truman
American Civil War, 1861-1865
Brothers and sisters
Card games
Church buildings
High schools
World War, 1914-1918

Merle Miller interviews former president Harry S. Truman. He asks several questions and there is discussion on a number of topics. Sound only.

1961 - 1963

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Moving Image Type
Screen Gems

Shot List

Audio file

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0:00    What were we talking about yesterday; you spoke of Abraham Lincoln.

    Truman:  We were talking about why I think Abraham Lincoln was a great President.  I think he was because he had nerve enough to save the union under difficult circumstances.  If he hadn’t, we would have been divided into half a dozen Latin American countries who would have no influence in the world.  He had nerve to do the right thing against tremendous opposition.

1:32    How did he know what to do?

    Truman:  He knew how to do the right thing because he knew his history.  He had been a local politician; he knew if the union could not be saved we would be many states who could get nothing done.

2:17    We took pictures on a walk yesterday.

    Truman:  We passed the current junior high school which was the site of the high school Mrs. Truman and I attended.

    What happened to that building?

    Truman:  It burned up with all the records.  Nobody knows if I ever graduated from high school.

3:10    We took a picture of the Baptist Church.  Did you go there?

    Truman:  No, you’re thinking of the Presbyterian Church.  That’s where Mrs. Truman and I met.

4:08    Rufus Burrus said things about your poker game; he said neither of you were much good.  

    Truman:  The poker games were not played for game.  I usually set a limit for betting, 10 cents to the dollar.  It was done only for entertainment.

    Judge Vinson liked wild games?

    Truman:  Yes he did.  Mr. Truman teases Merle Miller about getting into a game with him.

6:01      Mr. Miller reads a quote from Ethel Noland that says Harry Truman is a product of the 19th century.  Would Mr. Truman comment?

    Truman:  “I think my cousin has stated the case.”  He can’t endorse it because she places him as a product of that century.  “I appreciate it most highly; she told the truth.”

7:18    Mr. Miller asks him to comment on Ethel Noland.

    Truman:  The Noland sister and the Truman siblings were raised at the same time and it was as if they belonged to the same family.  

    Mr. Miller asked for comment on Tom Evans.

8:05    Truman:  He knew Tom Evans for 30 years.  They met through working for the welfare of the Democratic party back in the l920’s.  

    Mr. Miller asked about running Jackson County compared to the presidency.

8:52    Truman:  There wasn’t any difference in being a chief administrator for a county or as President of the United States.

    Mr. Miller asked was Joseph Stalin like Tom Pendergast?

9:35    Truman:  Stalin was a man willing to listen, make up his mind, and decide.  I found out later he didn’t intend to keep his word.  Tom Pendergast always kept his word and never forgot it.

10:23  Talk about Mary Jane Truman.

    Truman:  Sister Mary Jane and brother Vivian and he were as close as three people could be.  Vivian and he always looked out for Mary Jane.  Mary Jane and he used to play duets together on the piano.

11:25  Truman:  Their mother played the piano.  She had a piano education and had 2 or 3 pieces she played for them when they were youngsters.

11:51  Mr. Miller asked about General Order No. 11 from the civil war times.

    Truman:  It was issued by the Federal who was in control of military affairs in the neighborhood.  People from several counties were ordered to leave to go to posts.  Most of their property was stolen by Federal troops.  So it was not popular in Jackson County.  The posts were at Kansas City, Harrisonville, Cass County, and Platte County.  It affected his grandmother (his mother’s mother); she was watching the farm while her husband was away.  Federal troops burned the house and killed the hogs and cut only the hams out.  Mr. Truman talked about the star quilt made by his grandmother Harriet Gregg Young in 1839; the Federal troops used it in the muddy lot to play cards on.  Mary Jane still has the quilt.  It is a beautiful thing.

14:38  Truman:  Uncle Harrison was about 15 at the time. They hanged him to make him tell where the Confederate troops were.  He didn’t tell and they let him down.

15:43  Mr. Miller said they would like the sound of his voice reading letters to his mother.

    Mr. Truman said, with emotion, he couldn’t do it; “you know I couldn’t.”

16:09  Mr. Miller asked about Ralph Truman.  When was the first time he came to Grandview?

    Truman:  “I can’t remember.”  He came a number of times.  Mr. Truman remembers a trip to Texas with him.

16:40  Is there anything left of the original buildings at the Grandview farm?

    Truman:  Only the barn is left.  Miller asks about the little building used as a garage, was it a post office?  Truman says it was added long afterwards and was always a garage.

17:18  What was your first political activity?

    Truman:  Clerk for the election at the Grandview precinct.  In 1909 he was old enough to vote.  “I was clerk before I was old enough to vote.”  He became acquainted with everyone in the precinct.  They had one old man who was a Socialist.  Once there were 2 votes for the Socialist Party.  The Republican judge asked him if that old man voted twice.  “No, his son is at home.”

19:02  Tell us about Battery D, how you got there and became commanding officer.

    Truman:  In 1905 he joined the National Guard and helped organize B Battery in Kansas City and became a Corporal in that Battery.  When B Battery went to Texas, he was harvesting wheat and couldn’t go.  He worked with Battery B and C Battery in Independence.  He enlisted many men and Truman became First Lt. in F Battery of the 129th Field Artillery.  One morning Col. Klemm told him he was promoted to Captain.  He was Adjutant to Col. Marvin H. Gates
One morning Col. Gates told Truman he needed a Commanding Officer for Battery D.

The first thing Truman did was call in all non-commissioned officers and told them the Captain had the final say.  They became one of the best batteries in the regiment.  “We could always hit the target when the time came.”  They gave him a silver cup.  Sometime he will bring it to the Library.  They returned from World War I and marched around the town.  

We usually have reunions on the 17th of March because they were mostly Catholic.  Only 7 or 8 were Protestant in Battery D.  If you want to consult those men they will tell you what kind of Captain they had.  The best definition of a leader is someone who can make men do what they don’t want to do and like it.”

25:47  Mr. Miller asked about Mike Flynn.

    Truman:  He was a Lt. and one of the finest men I’ve