Friday, May 31, 2013

Independence, MO - Day 4 and 5

After visiting the USAF Museum, I left Dayton and drove about 75 miles west on I-70 to a truck stop in Spiceland, IN.  I quit early so I could take a nap and catch up on some sleep.  The truck stop was outside of Indianapolis and there wasn’t much in the surrounding area.  There was a threat of strong thunderstorms so I kept checking the sky, weather radar, and NOAA radio.  All we had were some off and on showers, which was ok with me.  There was a lot of traffic in and out of the truck stop with lots of RV's filling up and dumping out on there way home from the long week-end.  I was the only RV in the lot to spend the night.

Missouri farm from the Interstate
 After getting a good nights rest, I headed out for Missouri.  My route took me across IN and IL, around St. Louis and partway across the state on I-70.  I think I heard some one say if you don’t want to see much on your travels then take the Interstate.  It’s great for cranking out miles, but no much for different or interesting scenery.   Missouri has some pretty flat sections and lots of cultivated farm land.  But it looked like it could have been IN, IL, OH or VA.  I got to Warrentown by mid afternoon, which was my planned destination for the day..  I was feeling pretty good, so I grabbed a shower at the truck stop, refueled and kept going towards Independence.  I was going to try and make it all the way but pulled off about 40 miles out at a truck stop.  I did about 565 miles which was enough for one day. 

There was a tornado watch posted for my area all afternoon until 10pm and luckily it passed with nothing to report.  I’m not sure how the locals in “tornado alley” handle all these warning for severe storms, localized flooding, hail, or tornado’s.  It made me super vigilant, listening to the radio, looking at the sky, and thinking about contingency plans, like were would I drive to protect the RV and me?  One of the bloggers I follow suggested looking for a bank drive thru or gas station canopy to avoid the hail. But the locals just seem to go about there business and not even discuss it. I figure the odds are like the lottery; you know something is going to get hit, its just probably not you.  I guess there's not a lot you can do if your number gets called and a tornado is going to sprout up on top of you or pass over your location.  Pray and take shelter is about all you can do.

Day five brought me to Independence and my plan was to visit the Truman Library and Museum as well as Truman’s home.  Last year, I had read David McCullough's biography on Truman and so I was well versed in his background, issues, and accomplishments.

It was interesting to see where he was from.  Independence has a small town feel to it and not much has changed since Truman lived there.  The library / museum is small and chronicles the issues that the country faced along with how Truman dealt with them.  The museum had lots of his notes and correspondence (e.g. letter to MacArthur firing him, note to Eisenhower on how and when to submit the federal budget, notes from cabinet meetings, notes on his daily agenda).  It looks like Truman was very organized and kept a lot of detailed records.  He wasn‘t that great of a public speaker and when he took office after FDR died, the country hardly knew who he was.

 But Truman was a man of action not of words or fancy speeches.  At the Potsdam Conference with Stalin and Churchill, when they discussed the agenda, Churchill quipped to Truman “it looks like you actually want to get something done!”  An and get a lot done he did; ending WWII, deciding to keep atomic weapons out of the hands of the military, enacting the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, the Berlin airlift, starting NATO, personally solving major wage and labor strikes, desegregating the military, recognizing Israel, and establishing the Truman Doctrine for foreign policy.  Quite a lot for a guy who never went to college, never wanted to be the VP, and was a reluctant President.

Replica of Truman's Oval Office
When he left office his approval rating were very low down in the 30 percentile due to the country’s weariness with Korean war.  But time has looked favorably on Truman and in my opinion he is one the best Presidents we‘ve had.

The Truman house, which is a few block from downtown Independence is as it was when Bess died in 1982.  It’s a modest Victorian house and still has all the original furnishings.  Its kinda eery to see Truman's hat, coat, and cane hanging by the back door.   The way the house it decorated, its like he could walk in the door at any time.  The house can be viewed by signing up for a tour with the National Park Service.

Truman Home in Independence, MO

Truman Grave Site in the Library Courtyard
Truman's Office at the Library

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