Published: July 5th 2010July 2nd 2010
Where HST Lived Until Age Six
Harry S Truman Birthplace State Historic Site - Lamar MO
On Friday, June 25, 2010 we departed the Big Red Barn RV Park in Carthage MO under brilliant blue skies en route to the Stadium RV Park in Independence MO. Our journey north on US 71 only took about 2-1/2 hours; however, we had planned a stop at the Harry S. Truman Birthplace State Historic Site in Lamar MO. John and Martha Truman bought the house for $685 in 1882 before Harry was born on May 8, 1884. They lived there until they moved to Independence when Harry was six. The United Auto Workers bought the house, restored it and donated it to the State of Missouri. Former President Truman attended the dedication on April 19, 1959. Interesting and worth traveling US 71 instead of US 69 between Joplin and Kansas City.
Thanks to Irene’s precise instructions, we arrived at Stadium RV Park without incident and set up with the temperature/humidity index hovering in the low 100s. I’m sure glad I’ve got this set-up routine pretty much down to a science! We’ve had this hot, muggy weather for so long we are beginning to become acclimated - not that we like it whatsoever, but the weather isn’t as draining as
Bess Truman's Home For 97 Years
Harry S Truman National Historic Site - Independence MO
it was when we were first slam-dunked! In the afternoon, we headed for the visitors center in Independence and the Missouri Welcome Center near the Truman Sports Complex. We loaded up with a couple of additional tourism ideas.
There was a grand plan for Saturday - get some outdoor activities done in the morning and some indoor activities in the afternoon. The morning/afternoon part of the plan went well, EXCEPT that the outdoor activities consisted of changing a flat tire on the truck - followed by getting another shower, donning more clean clothes, having the flat repaired and eating our picnic lunch in the Pilgrim. With the luck we’ve had in the last 3-1/2 months, I can’t complain. Even this glitch could have been on a busy highway at night.
After lunch, we went to the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site. Harry had moved into the house with Bess’s family after he and Bess were married in 1919. Except for the time he was President, they lived there until his death in 1972. Bess continued to live there until her death in 1982 when the house became the property of the National Park Service. This historic site
Capturing The Essence Of Life On The Trail
National Frontier Trails Museum - Independence MO
is unique in that all of the furnishings are what Harry and Bess used when they occupied the house - nothing has a “similar to” footnote. It’s quite easy to imagine them having breakfast at the kitchen table or reading in the parlor. Highly recommended.
Next, we headed to the National Frontier Trails Museum which commemorates the lives of the pioneers as they traversed the three major trails to new homes in the west. Independence MO was the key departure point for the Oregon, Santa Fe and California Trails. The museum is very interesting although it strays from the norm one expects from a museum. The artifacts are scarce as most museums go; however, one “wing” is devoted to the challenges and unique difficulties found on each trail - principally through the written words of the pioneers as recorded in journals and diaries. Those words are captivating without question, and those words are, indeed, the essence of the museum. In my opinion, a quick walk-through of this museum would be a waste of time. Take the time to read of their hopes, their fears, their joys and their frustrations. Very interesting.
A couple hundred yards away we entered
Living Quarters Upstairs
Chicago & Alton Railroad Depot - Independence MO
the Chicago & Alton Railroad Depot. The two-story depot is typical of railroad depots found in larger cities. The stationmaster and his family lived upstairs, and railroad business was conducted on the main level. Many period artifacts can be found both in the depot and in the living quarters. We then went to the Truman Depot - the final stop on Truman’s 1948 whistle-stop tour and where Citizen Truman was welcomed home. We found there was nothing else “touristy” about the station; however, we learned an Amtrak was to arrive momentarily and decided to stay for a photo or two.
We’ve had great success finding quality fruit and veggies at the local Farmers Markets we’ve visited to date. Again, such was the case at The City Market in Kansas City MO on Sunday morning. Kansas City is known as “The City of Fountains,” and there were several fountains that were on my “must see” list. The Firefighters Fountain and the Vietnam Veterans Fountain both were of interest (go figure) and only 12 blocks apart. Unfortunately, the Firefighters Fountain was out of service; however the message came through loud and clear. The Vietnam Veterans Fountain was phenomenal. I might have
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foutain - Kansas City MO
been disappointed had the symbolism not been laid out in granite at the base of the fountain. The inscription:
“Water, like time, has the power to cleanse and heal. This Memorial Fountain stands as a symbol of that healing from the devastating division caused by the Vietnam War. The fountain’s pools represent the country’s growing involvement in the war, culminating in two pools symbolic of the divided opinions at the time.
Americans took distinct and differing stands on the war, and caught in the middle were the thousands of men and women from the Kansas City area who served in Vietnam, hundreds of whom were killed or are missing and unaccounted for. This memorial is to honor them and bring us all together in tribute to their dedication and bravery.
The park is for all of Kansas City to enjoy and to remember. For only by remembering can we assure that it never happens again.”
The gentle babbling of the water was so soft, so soothing, so healing. Highly recommended for all Vietnam veterans and their families. Since most historical attractions are closed on Sundays (many on Mondays as well) and since the heat was
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City - Kansas City MO
building, we decided to call it a day.
One of the ten Federal Reserve Banks is located in Kansas City. Its Money Museum is a M-F operation we initially placed somewhere in the middle of our “to do” list, but the more I thought about it, the more it intrigued me. What a unique attraction. Looking at a gold bar worth nearly a half million dollars, seeing an exhibit of $40 million in stacks of twenties (about 4’ by 8’) and watching workers load machines that sort good bills from bad, either tattered or counterfeit, was amazing. Then there were the displays of all the coins issued under all the Presidents, all the State Quarters and the various contemporary gold coins - Presidential, First Spouse and Native American. I learned more about the Federal Reserve System through the orientation movie and the interactive displays than I have in all my other exposure - well, at least more than I can remember that I had learned!!! My bet is that all the Federal Reserve branch banks have similar opportunities; I would highly recommend a visit to whichever branch might be nearby.
From the entry to the Fed, we saw
What A Neighboorhood!
The Henry Bloch Fountain From Union Station With The National World War I Museum Tower In The Background - Kansas City MO
the National World War I Museum tower a short distance away but found the museum was closed on Mondays. Exterior photos were still in order, and, in our search for photographic vantage points of the tower, we discovered that Union Station and the Henry Bloch Fountain were just down the hill. One can only imagine the hustle and bustle of a major train station in its heyday; but the beauty, elegance and splendor remain. Tucked away in a corner room, the local model railroading enthusiasts have an opportunity to display their treasures. Many, perhaps all, of the various gauges of model trains were on display along with some historical background about the different gauges of model railroads.
Across the street from Union Station is the Henry Bloch Fountain. Even though the fountain is located between traffic lanes and the vehicular din surpasses the serenity of the flowing water, the dancing of the waters is visually pleasing. The Federal Reserve Bank, the National World War I Museum, Union Station and the Henry Bloch Fountain are within 4 or 5 blocks of each other. A trip to the neighborhood is a must - at least one of these gems should pique
Union Station - Kansas City MO
We planned the focus for Tuesday, June 29, 2010 to be the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence. Since the hours for the Pioneer Spring Cabin and the 1827 Log Courthouse in Independence were limited to M-F from 10 AM to 2 PM, we decided to check them out before heading to the HST Library. Both historic buildings are worth a short visit if you have surplus time and if the hours fit into your schedule, but I cannot put them on my “must see” list. The Truman Library is an entirely different matter. To be candid, we should have sacrificed our first two stops, arrived at the library at 9 AM and spent more time at the library. After we watched a +/- 45-minute movie about Truman’s life, we caught the shirttails of a library tour that had formed near the main entrance. We still don’t know if the tour was complimentary or not nor if there was a group size limitation, but the docent didn’t send us away.
During the 1-1/2 to 2 hour tour, the docent summarized the highlights of the museum and augmented the posted information with some interesting (oftentimes
Oval Office Replica
Harry S. Truman Library and Museum - Independence MO
humorous) anecdotes. The tour culminated in the courtyard where one can see the office Citizen Harry used almost daily until about a year before his death and the gravesites of Harry, Bess, their only child Margaret and Margaret’s husband. Given the time constraints we had imposed on ourselves, I was very grateful for the tour. My Monday morning quarterback says, “Arrive at opening, see the movie, take the tour, eat the picnic lunch you packed (there is no food service on site), revisit those portions of the museum you found of particular interest during the tour (including the interactive displays we missed on the tour) and leave at closing.”
Although we didn’t have a comprehensive experience at the Library, I’m sure glad we had allocated time to visit the Puppetry Arts Institute. This truly is a unique attraction. Our tour guide, a puppeteer herself, told us Hazelle Hedges Rollins was a Kansas City native who became infatuated with marionettes as a youngster, amassed a collection of puppets from numerous nations and cultures and eventually founded a company that manufactured several kinds of puppets. Over her lifetime, she was granted US patents for three of her marionette innovations. The museum
Harry On A String
Puppetry Arts Institute - Independence MO
has marionettes, hand and finger puppets and puppet theaters. There are puppet parts showing the various stages of marionette development and antique puppets including an extensive collection of Punch and Judy puppets. There is a puppet reference library and tapes/DVDs about puppetry. Although one could live a rich and fulfilling life without seeing this museum, it is extremely unique and well worth the +/- one-hour visit when in Independence.
Wednesday was a “housekeeping” day - pay bills, work on the blog and plan for “down the road” sightseeing. After darkness had fallen, we went downtown to see “Sky Station/Pylon Caps” and to look at the city lights. Nice, but not spectacular. Up and at ‘em sorta early on Thursday. Our first stop was the Harley-Davidson Vehicle and Powertrain Operations facility in Kansas City for a factory tour. Without question, the tour was interesting but didn’t equal other factory tours I’ve taken over the years. Indeed, in my humble opinion, watching the film summarizing the history of Harley-Davidson and scrutinizing the robots at work were the highlights of the tour. The entry and gift shop area (oh, yes, there was a LOT of stuff for sale in the gift shop)
Puppetry Arts Institute - Independence MO
only had five or six current models - nothing vintage and no sidecars or tricycles. There was virtually no information about Harley owners clubs. Bottom line, okay if you’re already in Kansas City but don’t drive a great distance to take the tour.
Our next stop was the Hallmark (greeting cards) Visitors Center. Outside, there was a fountain where tradition allowed the children to play in the summer heat. Inside, there were lots of beautiful Hallmark products that did go back to the 1930s and the evolution of the product line was well demonstrated; however, don’t spend a lot of time getting to Kansas City merely to see the museum. Next, we headed for the Social Security Office. Yes, Uncle Larry will be 62 in August and will partake of the government’s philanthropy. That mission completed, we headed back to Independence for seltzer water at Clinton's Soda Fountain - the site of Truman’s first gainful employment. A “must see” if there is one nostalgic bone in your body.
We’ve had a good time in the Independence area. There were a few attractions on the “A” list that were closed for renovation, and some were hard to fit into
Cooling Off The Little Ones
Hallmark Visitor Center - Kansas City MO
the schedule. I guess that leaves a reason to stop in again for a few days further on down the road. We’ve got three more short stops before we get back to Illinois for Helen’s 80th birthday.
There are more photos below