Writer recalls President Truman’s visit to Minneapolis

Jack Puterbaugh

Guest Writer

On Jan. 14, 1956 Former President Harry Truman came to Minnesota to speak at a DFL Fundraising Dinner. The dinner had originally been scheduled for early  December, but Mr. Truman had to cancel as he wasn’t feeling well.

I recall being in Governor Freeman’s Office, when the Governor called Mr. Truman to see if the dinner date could be changed. The call was made over a speaker phone (something new at the time). Mr. Truman reported that he wasn’t feeling well, and that Bess (Mrs. Truman) wouldn’t let him travel. He then agreed to a later date for the dinner.

On Jan. 14, 1956 at 7:30 a.m. Mr. Truman arrived by train at the Saint Paul Depot. He was then taken to the Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis. His memoirs had recently been published, and people came by to greet him and to have him autograph his book.

In addition to the fundraising dinner, he was scheduled to attend a fundraising luncheon for the Truman Library. When it was close to 11 a.m. he indicated he would like to have the room cleared in order to get prepared for the luncheon. After the room was cleared the only people remaining were, Mr. Truman, an assistant to Mr. Truman by the name of Bailey, Inspector Don Johnson from the Minneapolis Police Department, and the Writer.

In the living room of the hotel suite there was a grand piano. Spying the piano, Mr. Truman took off his suit coat (I remember he was wearing suspenders) and sat down at the piano and tapped out a few notes. When he got up from the piano he announced, “this one sounds like it came from a French whorehouse.” Needless to say both the luncheon and  dinner were successful.