A serial memoir exploring the history, humanity and humor of being part of one of America’s First Families, as remembered by Clifton Truman Daniel, eldest grandson of President Harry S. Truman.
Clifton Truman Daniel opens the door to discover the rare and extraordinary experience of growing up as a presidential descendant. From growing up with Harry and Bess Truman, to President Truman’s major decisions, to the White House Renovation, to First Friendships, Mr. Daniel shares personal remembrances, family stories and archival material with warmth and wit.
Christmas at the Truman Home
Bess Truman was a perfect grandmother. She thought everything we grandchildren did was marvelous. She laughed at our stupid jokes (What’s green and dances? Fred Asparagus). Occasionally, she even took our side against our mother. This last thing sometimes happened at Christmas.
Grandpa and LBJ
President Lyndon Baines Johnson died on January 22, 1973, less than a month after my grandfather. I remember the shock of seeing him at Grandpa’s funeral, gaunt and hollow-eyed, Lady Bird Johnson at his side. They and my grandparents had enjoyed a close friendship.
The Politics of Hair
Grandpa Truman spoiled my mother. During the Great Depression, he saved jobs by halving the salaries of every county employee, himself included. He also cut my mother’s allowance from 50 cents a week to 25. But she could always get him to give her back the other quarter. My grandmother, on the other hand, saw it as her job to keep Mom’s feet on the ground, figuratively and in fact.
Babysitter in Chief
Harry S. Truman, 33rd president of the United States, the “uncommon common man,” bank clerk, farmer, small businessman, citizen soldier, and county judge who rose to the highest office in the land, brought the war in the Pacific to an end and kept Communists and dictators at bay worldwide … was a terrible babysitter.
Recognition of Israel
Seventy-five years ago, on May 14, 1948, President Truman made one of the most momentous decisions of his presidency: recognizing the new state of Israel just minutes after its founding. My grandfather is justly celebrated for providing the legitimacy this nascent democracy required to survive, but his WWI buddy and former business partner, Eddie Jacobson, deserves credit, as well. This installment of “First Family Stories” is dedicated to a friendship that changed the world.
Truman Defeats Dewey
The first story my mother told me about the 1948 presidential campaign had nothing to do with tactics, crowds, or the upset victory. The Ferdinand Magellan presidential railcar was outfitted with a speedometer connected to the engine, so folks in back could see how fast they were going. Mom and Grandpa were in the lounge one afternoon, reading, when Mom noticed Grandpa glancing up repeatedly at the speedometer, which was climbing. 80. 82. 85 …
Remembering Rosalynn Carter
I did not know Rosalynn Carter well. We met only once, in 2019, when I was invited to give a talk during the annual meeting of the Carter Political Items Collectors in Plains, Georgia. Even so, I felt her presence throughout the town.
Clifton Truman Daniel
Clifton Truman Daniel is the eldest grandson of President Harry S. Truman and First Lady Bess Wallace Truman. He is the son of author Margaret Truman and former New York Times Managing Editor E. Clifton Daniel, Jr. Mr. Daniel is honorary chairman of the board of the Truman Library Institute, board secretary of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, and vice president of the Society of Presidential Descendants. He is the author of Growing Up with My Grandfather: Memories of Harry S. Truman and Dear Harry, Love Bess: Bess Truman’s Letters to Harry Truman, 1919-1943. In addition to portraying his famous grandfather on stage, Mr. Daniel gives a series of lectures on various aspects of the Truman presidency and U.S. and White House history. Learn more.
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