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tv   Trumans Little White House  CSPAN  August 18, 2018 10:29am-10:50am EDT

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only because i was a ranking member. i was on the outside. also, their acceptance of me as an equal and many of their acceptance of the as their superior, allowed me to know that i could negotiate with the best of them. announcer: in the weeks ahead, we will hear from heaven bentley, nancy johnson and lynn woolsey. watch oral histories sunday at 10 a.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3. america's 30 third president estates life in washington, d.c. by visiting what he calls the little white house in key west, florida. we take you there as we hear the stories of how president truman spends his time at this historic retreat. ♪
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>> the little white house got its name partly through an accident. partly through just the fact that franklin roosevelt had had a little white house. in our particular case, president truman was at everglades city dedicating the everglades national park in december 1947, and the press corps started yelling at the president, are you going to return to florida? he responded by saying, of course, i have a little white house in key west. the house at that time was
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painted gray. the navy took this as a clear indication the president was returning so they painted the building all white. it is no longer navy grey, it is all white for the little white house. i would like to welcome you to the harry s truman little white house. it is florida's official presidential museum and has been used by seven american presidents. it is cap david south. the little white was built as the navy commander's home in 1890. it served a number of various commanders over almost a 100 year span, but it was slightly taft,upted by presidents franklin roosevelt, harry truman , dwight eisenhower, john bill the department of defense says
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we seem to have a continuum through american history. this building was the largest building on the naval base. it was 9000 square feet. it was built originally as the paymaster and commander's home, but by 1911 the base commander realized things were getting snug so he merged into a single dwelling of all most 9000 square feet. at that time, key west was the command headquarters for the seventh averill district which covered key west to charleston. , admiralimitz is here chester nimitz is here expecting desk inspecting the base. he finds our base commander moved to smaller quarters because he is a bachelor and does not want to bounce around in 9000 square feet by himself. he left this large home sitting vacant. nimitz sees this house sitting
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vacant and is impressed by the research being done by the u.s. navy, so he gets home to washington to learn the president of the united states has a hacking cough he cannot shake. he immediately speaks up and says, i have a perfect vacation venue. it is warm and secure, i am sure you would love key west. that is why the president kane. he came strictly for a week of rnr. r.r and they are swimming and resting and soaking up the sun, and the president is writing to his wife about how wonderful a place it is. as he leaves key west after that first week, he promised our city commissioners, whenever i get tired i will be back. 12 weeks later he is back. each november december and february march the president would take up residence one at a two week, three weeks
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time and the little white house becomes the functioning white house of the united states. president truman on his first vacation to key west is invited by the navy to go out on a captured german sub. president truman and 60 have his closest staff go out on this captured german sub. the captain of the sub is a missouri native, so they felt every bit of confidence that he would look after them. as fate would have it, they submerged to 450 feet and the sub springs a leak. the staff wrote in the official logs, which happened to be on our website, that they were not the least bit concerned because we have a missouri captain and we knew he would look out for them. in the next breath, they were not denying submariners the extra $.50 or one dollar in pay
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because it obviously was a hazardous job. instruments reengage and goalie -- slowly go to the surface. they crack the hatches and president truman's staff scramble up on the wet deck. he sees them sitting there with soaking wet trousers and says, i see you are lack -- hiding your lack of apprehension. started coming in 1946 and the navy had not put any money into fixing the place up. by 1949, the president had been here four times and following thedefeat of tom dewey, navy realized the president would be coming back more often. they hired the premier interior decorator of miami beach and the house reflects the remodel of 1949. he made no consultation with the
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president. he simply wanted to create a timeless venue, something that would be acceptable to the guests that would be coming to see the president, and he picked colors that were popular at the time. taupe, gray, tomato red. the house had 20 years of admirals living in it. many of the things that had been done for truman were discarded. it was our task to restore the house as it was and of course, although we had the records of what was bought, they did not necessarily tell us who it was from. that is this fabric shown in the drapes and on the couch, turned out to be a waverley print. none of us knew that. we found a scrap of this fabric on ebay. we found 200 yards of fabric and
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we ended up needing 187 yards to complete the task. the paintings on the wall i had been led to believe were stolen, until one day we found a notation that they had been loaned by the naval academy. the naval academy had no idea what i was talking about and so finally we found the list of collection numbers from the truman library. we approached the naval academy for the paintings and they informed me they were worth $1 million and we were definitely not the president so we were not getting them. they shot high resolution scans so all of the paintings are exactly as they are in the photographs when president truman was here in the house. the little white house is a very pure restoration to the time when president truman was using it. at the moment, we are in president truman's living room, his library. during the daytime it was his
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office and every evening it became a movie theater. he has a staff of 59. seven are playing poker, so what do you do with the rest of them? they ran first run films in the living room. there is many neat things about the little white house and the living room is somewhat iconic in the number of pieces that are actually connected with president truman. ♪ his piano is in the corner. president have the piano here in key west. he had instead, that piano came on board the presidential yacht, the uss williamsburg. indication it could be brought into the house and that is the way it was when the president was here as president. president truman was an extremely talented musician. at the age of six they found he had incredible music talent and
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he enrolled in music lessons for the next 10 years. become acted him to concert pns and around the age of 15 or 16 he dropped out, saying he is not quite good enough. we believe he dropped out to save the family the cost of the expense. he regularly played the piano and he loved playing mozart and chopin for memory. in 1953, the uss williamsburg was decommissioned. president eisenhower felt it was a luxury he did not need. being a navy vessel, all of the artifacts were scattered. later,, about 10 years our base admiral put out a directive -- i want the piano. amazingly, admirals get what they want. they found the plo in storage in in storage-- piano
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in washington, had it shipped back to key west, and president truman was surprised to find his old piano in the little white house. this is where the president came to relax. the president told everyone he was on vacation, working vacations, but on vacation in key west. it turns out, it was all a lie. both the president and his staff were lying to each other. harry would get up on vacation at 7:00 in the morning, read the newspaper, come downstairs, have a glass of orange juice with a shot of bourbon. he would then go out walking 10 blocks at a pace of 120 paces a minute. that is cardio if ever i heard of it. then he would take up his position at this little desk. day, day or every other large mail bags would arrive containing correspondence,
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legislation, sometimes books the president asked to have brought to the key west, and he would run the country. after several hours, the president would insist they would all go swimming because it was important that his staff rest. his staff were working like fiends behind his back thinking, at least the president is relaxing. the president was doing exactly the same thing because every night he would take a stack of work to his bedroom and work hours thinking, at least my staff is resting. it finally came to a head when he he wrote to his cousin, vacation is a farce. i am signing my name 200 to 500 times a day on vacation. the work of the president never ends, it follows you wherever you go. it kind of brings back the iconic symbol, the buck stops here. harry truman made it famous because he believes all
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responsibility ends at the president's desk. the only person he can pass responsibility to his god. it comes from the wild west. in the wild west, a bone handled knife, a buck knife was placed in front of the dealer. when it was not your return or you did not want the responsibility, you passed the buck knife to the next dealer. harry truman being a poker player would know that. the buck stops here is the sign that ended up on his desk. this is one of multiple copies the president received. the original one is at his library in independence, missouri. the one thing people rarely get to see is the back of the sign. the back of the sign says -- i am from missouri. why is that important? it reminded harry truman, don't forget a swelled head.
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do not think you are better than the people who elected you because one of these days you will be going back home. harry never, ever lost that concept. he never forgot who he was nor where he was going, and he always was one of us. at the moment, we are in the hairiest room and little white house what we call the rec room -- harry s truman little white house, what we call the rec room. probably one of the most iconic things in the house is this poker table. it was made for the president in our cabinet shop as a gift from the navy in 1949. the president had early been here for four other vacations prior so the president relaxed by playing poker with his closest staff. they played cards from about 7:00 to 11:00 every night. to president truman, this was a teambuilding exercise, all about
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camaraderie that had nothing to do with winning or losing. two of his staff are still living. one made eight of the 11 trips with the president to key west, and said when they boarded the plane in washington they threw $50 into the pot. the banker would save back part of the winnings so if they ran out of money, the banker advanced you more money. it was all about camaraderie. he did not feel anyone ever lost more than $20 playing cards with the president. resident truman regarded the big white house as the great white jail. he felt he was constantly under everyone's eye, so by coming to key west he could come with his closest staff, let down his hair . sometimes some of the staff but their beards grow for a couple of days. they certainly at times used
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off-color stories and they certainly could have a glass of bourbon and visit back-and-forth without any scrutiny from the press. we know for a fact that president truman shared his decision not to run for reelection with his closest staff sitting at this table. for the next six months, not one person leaked the story. resident truman share that information so they would have the opportunity to leave government service and get a job before everyone else left government service, so he was looking out for his closest staff. he had great fun with his staff, although he personally did not like fishing, he would go out fishing with his staff in order to bet on the biggest catch, the longest fish, things like that. a sportswear company said a desk sent a case of hawaiian shirts to the president with the thoughts that the president is wearing our shirt and we will sell a lot of shirts.
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president truman were those first -- were those free shirts his first year and that organized what they call the loud shirt contest. it was hunt all year long for the craziest tropical shirt you can find. the president was often seen wearing these wild, loud shirts. the press corps followed suit. they wore loud shirts too and they formed a little group of which president truman referred to them as the one more club, because they were always hollering, "just one more." the house is very simple. if you go to europe, you go to palaces. if you go to -- when we were allowed to go -- to the big white house, it is formal and very presidential. the little white house reminds many of our visitors of their
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mom's house with their grandmother's house or perhaps a favorite aunt. it is very humbly furnished. it is a very subtle elegance about it. i think the number one thing is that people coming in just go, i could live here. this feels like my house. it really is the people's house in so many ways. it is not a palace by any means. they get it. ly was truman he was one of us. it would have been out of keeping with his character had they had gilded furniture or something. it was just inconceivable to harry truman to ever have anything like that. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] you can watch this and other programs on the history of
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communities across the country at cities tour. this is american history tv, only on c-span3. afterwords,ght on general onine corps gender bias in the military. she is interviewed by reporter todd south. >> if a female marine is not really catered to -- not really paid attention to, to develop her as a quality marine and not held to a high standard, how does that affect her career? how does that affect the perception of her by her colleagues? >> the problem is because the marine corps does not want to change what happens at that foundational level, and because everything is so segregated, those stereotypes persist. the stereotypes sort of feed into the perception that women can't because they are women and
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they are not respected. the lack of respect between men and women in the marine corps is legendary. it is the stuff that male recruits here all the time. you hear male recruits who happen to be slower told they are women, they are the p word. it becomes normal to say derogatory things about women. that is sort of the dilemma that women have in the marine corps when they graduate from boot camp, that is the culture they are brought into. >> watch afterwords, sunday night at 9:00 p.m. on c-span2's book tv. announcer: this year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 poor people's campaign, envisioned by martin luther king jr. to shift up the focus of the civil rights movement economic issues. reverend king was assassinated a few weeks before the campaign got underway in washington, d.c. next from the smithsonian
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, national museum of african american history and culture, a discussion on civil unrest and economic conditions leading up to 1968, particularly in detroit, michigan and newark, new jersey. this is about an hour and 10 minutes. aaron: good afternoon. welcome to the national museum of african american history and culture. my name is erin bryant -- aaron bryant. i am a curator here, and also the curator for the exhibition "city of hope." it is across the street over at the national museum for american history. it is also part of the reason we are here today, to celebrate the life and legacy of dr. clement a. price, and look at the issues related to poverty, not just from 1968, but perhaps we can talk more about how this poor


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