PRAIRIE TRIP PART 2
Sunday, after returning to our hotel from the visit to Council Grove, we registered for our ELDERHOSTEL -- "Harry and Ike, Great Presidents from America's Heartland"
On Monday we went to the nearby Emporia State University, where we had a number of presentations about President Harry Truman's life. In addition, there were two professional impersonators, who gave us wonderful
interactive talks representing Mrs Truman (Bess), Harry, and Mrs Eisenhower ( Mamie). They also answered many questions from the audience. They were thoroughly prepared to deal with most aspects of the lives that they were impersonating. A major topic of discussion was regarding the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan.
On Tuesday, we piled into an excellent bus for a trip to Independence, Missouri, to visit The Truman Library and Museum, shown in the above photo. We also planned to visit the Truman Home.
The Museum and Library are built around this delightful courtyard Where Harry and Bess are buried, You can see the graves out by the flagpole.
The Graves are simple and dignified.
Some of the members of the Elderhostel had signed up to do research in the Library, but we skipped this and spent the time touring the museum, which was very well done. This is a display depicting some of the common household items of Harry's era. The table and chairs caught Marie's eye since they are similar to a set we bought in the early 50's.
Next we boarded the bus for a short trip to the Truman Home.
It is operated by the Park Service, and they wouldn't let me take any photos on the inside, and wouldn't even let me go around on the lawn taking photos. This is the front entrance.
This is the back porch, and is used as the entrance by the small guided groups.
Harry and Bess moved into her mother's home, and spent their whole married life living there except when Harry was in the White House. Even then, Bess kept coming back here to be with her mother, leaving Harry alone in Washington. She hated all aspects of the Washington scene.
This is a view of the back side of the house, and it contains the feature that I liked the best -- the large screened porch. It looked like it was a delightful place to spend a lazy day. The house also had a small cozy library, with comfortable chairs and good lamps -- their favorite place to sit and read. Harry was an avid reader from his youth, and loved histories and biographies; Bess liked mystery stories.
On Wednesday we were back at the University for cram sessions on the Eisenhower's and their era. In this photo we are listening to the Ike "impersonator" tell us about his memories of the war and his presidency. Again, there were questions from the group, and a favorite one was regarding Kay Sommersby, his driver during the war. There are many stories indicating that they were having an affair!
Bright and early on Thursday we jumped on the bus for a two hour ride to Abiline, Kansas, where Ike was raised. There is now a beautiful large campus containing the Library building, the Museum building, Ike's childhood home, the Memorial Chapel, and a visitor's center. This nice statue of Ike in his distinctive uniform, is centrally located on the main quadrangle.
This is the Chapel
These are the tombs for Ike and Mamie, located in the Chapel
This is Ike's boyhood home where he was raised with his 5 brothers and parents. The brothers all went on to become very successful. Marie and I loved the house and thought it reminded us of Nixon's childhood home.
A downstairs bedroom.
A dining area.
The Museum, viewed from the quadrangle, with a grain elevator looming in the background.
Although we did not sign up for a research project, we did get a very good tour of the inner workings of the library. Here is a view of one small part of the storage facilities. Since some of the papers are still classified, they have a very large central vault, that, in turn , contains locked safes. There are extensive alarms and guards to meet the stringent security requirements.
This is the room where the researchers work. They request materials from the librarians, and then read it here.
This painting is located in the Museum, which is very large and comprehensive. It contains an excellent display of military items, as well as extensive displays of other aspects of his life. I particularly liked the extensive collection of paintings that Ike had made. Many of them were very good. I was surprised!