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to melt the cold war. Averell invited virtually every VIP.
The one person who refused to go was Harry Truman. The next
day at our breakfast (as I told you, I'm not very tactful), I
said, “Mr. President, I know that it's none of my business,
but I was rather surprised that you wouldn't go to this party
which obviously was intended to warm things up and try to turn
Khrushchev into a friend. Why were you the one that wouldn't
Truman, when he got indignant, would start poking you
in the ribs. He started poking me and said, “I'll tell you
why I didn't go to that reception. When I was President of
this country, that man never missed an opportunity to make a
fool out of me. Now, I'm a private citizen--he can go kiss my
ass.” I let out a roar of laughter. That was the way, of
course, that Truman talked. I said, “I think you have
made yourself quite clear, Mr. President.”
Another funny Truman story concerns an evening a year
or so later when we were the two speakers at a big banquet. I
think that it was in Des Moines. He gave the political and the
serious talk and I was there to provide a few innocent laughs.
It was a great big dinner for about 1,000 men. We both got
pretty handsome sums for this job. That's why we were there!
Put before me was the usual dinner served at these
banquets...you know, a chicken leg with a couple of hairs
sticking on it and green peas that roll off your knife...oh,
horrible. But they brought Truman a steak with mushroom sauce!
I grumbled, “How the hell did you get that steak while everybody
else is served this undercooked chicken?”
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