Harry Truman’s Ghost Letter

 

 

A suitable topic for Halloween.  Harry Truman, soon after he became President, wrote a letter to his wife in which he referred to ghosts in the White House:

THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON

June 12, 1945

Dear Bess:- Just two months ago today, I was a reasonably happy and contented Vice-President. Maybe you can remember that far back too. But things have changed so much it hardly seems real.

I sit here in this old house and work on foreign affairs, read reports, and work on speeches — all the while listening to the ghosts walk up and down the hallway and even right in here in the study. The floors pop and the drapes move back and forth — I can just imagine old Andy and Teddy having an argument over Franklin. Or James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce deciding which was the more useless to the country. And when Millard Fillmore and Chester Arthur join in for place and show, the din is almost unbearable. But I still get some work done.

Hope the weather lets up and you will be able to do some work on the house. The Gibson boy should have been taken care of long ago. I’ll see what’s happened. I’m not able to do as many things for my friends now as I did when I was just a dirty organisation Democrat and a County Judge.

Guess you and Helen will have a grand time. Hope you do. We are working on Dr. Wallace. Glad everybody was in his right mind at the family party. Undoubtedly they were walking the straight and narrow for your mother. But I’m sure you had a nice time anyway.

That address mixed up is causing me some embarrassment (if that’s the way you spell that blushing word.) I addressed a letter to you at 4701 Conn. Ave. Independence Mo., and another one 219 North Delaware, Washington, D. C. Now it seems I sent one to the Rolands. The boys in the House here didn’t catch that one but they did the other two.

I’ll have Reathal attend to the chores you suggest. I haven’t seen her but twice since you left. She comes in after I go over to the office, usually goes out to lunch and doesn’t come back until I am gone again and then goes home before I get over here.

Had Charlie Ross and Rosenman to lunch yesterday. We worked on my San Francisco speech. ,that date is postponed until next week now on account of the slow wind-up and Gen. Eisenhower’s visit.

Write me when you can – I hope every day.

Lots of love.

Harry. (more…)

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Published in: on October 30, 2022 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bell, Book and Candle

 

Something for the weekend. Soundtrack to Bell, Book and Candle (1958).  Something of a lost classic now, Bell, Book and Candle was a fun comedic romp teaming up Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak in a tale of sorcery in Manhattan.  A star studded supporting cast, including Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovaks, added to the entertainment.  Over the decades the movie has become an interesting period piece of America in the late Fifties.  A good movie for a Halloween weekend.

 

 

Published in: on October 29, 2022 at 5:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Night America Trembled

 

Broadcast on September 9, 1957, The Night America Trembled recreated the reaction to the radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds on October 30, 1938.

 

How little it took to panic the country 83 years ago!  The War of the Worlds broadcast on Halloween Eve 1938 by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater demonstrated the power of radio and how edgy the country was.  Or did it?  Recent studies have contended that the panic was not widespread and that relatively few radios in the country were tuned to the broadcast.  At any rate there was enough of an uproar that CBS called a press conference the next morning at which Welles appeared and took questions:

 

MR. WELLES: Despite my deep regret over any misapprehension that our broadcast might have created among some listeners, I am even more bewildered over this misunderstanding in the light of an analysis of the broadcast itself.

It seems to me that they’re our four factors, which should have in any event maintained the illusion of fiction in the broadcast. The first was that the broadcast was performed as if occurring in the future, and as if it were then related by a survivor of a past occurrence. The date of this fanciful invasion of this planet by Martians was clearly given as 1939 and was so announced at the outset of the broadcast.

The second element was the fact that the broadcast took place at our weekly Mercury Theatre period and had been so announced in all the papers. For seventeen consecutive weeks we have been broadcasting radio sixteen of these seventeen broadcasts have been fiction and have been presented as such. Only one in the series was a true story, the broadcast of Hell on Ice by Commander Ellsberg, and was identified as a true story in the framework of radio drama.

The third element was the fact that at the very outset of the broadcast, and twice during its enactment, listeners were told that this was a play that it was an adaptation of an old novel by H. G. Wells. Furthermore, at the conclusion, a detailed statement to this effect was made.

The fourth factor seems to me to have been the most pertinent of all. That is the familiarity of the fable, within the American idiom, of Mars and the Martians.

For many decades “The Man From Mars” has been almost a synonym for fantasy. In very old morgues of many newspapers there will be found a series of grotesque cartoons that ran daily, which gave this fantasy imaginary form. As a matter of fact, the fantasy as such has been used in radio programs many times. In these broadcasts, conflict between citizens of Mars and other planets been a familiarly accepted fairy-tale. The same make-believe is familiar to newspaper readers through a comic strip that uses the same device. (more…)

Published in: on October 31, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Night America Trembled  
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Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

 

Something for a Halloween weekend.  A rousing rendition of Ding Dong the Witch is Dead recorded by Ella Fitzgerald in 1961.

Composed by Harold Arlen, with lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, it was one of several memorable songs written for The Wizard of Oz (1939).  Here is the movie version with My Little Pony clips:

 

Published in: on October 31, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Ding Dong the Witch is Dead  
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Gettysburg Address: Halloween Edition

Hmmm, that is not quite the version I remember.  Speaking of zombies however, I have no doubt that the real Abraham Lincoln would have laughed at the following scene from the Bob Hope movie The Ghost Breakers (1940): (more…)

Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 5:45 am  Comments Off on Gettysburg Address: Halloween Edition  
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