Monday, April 12, 2010

Truman's Very Bad Day

Franklin Roosevelt died suddenly on this day in 1945. He'd been dying for a long time, but nobody wanted to admit it. Losing him was too big a catastrophe to think about. A nondescript man in glasses was quickly sworn in to replace him, but nobody knew much about the guy. He was from somewhere in the Midwest. He wore a panama hat and liked to play the piano. Roosevelt had been president for so long it was hard to remember him not being president. Businessmen hated him, giving him little credit for rescuing the economy. The rich called FDR a traitor to his class. To the working man he was almost God. He was enormously self-confident and reassuring, and he was ubiquitous. People hung his picture in their homes and offices. Everybody knew his voice from the radio. Nobody had ever heard of Harry Truman. When Truman expressed his condolences to Mrs. Roosevelt she said she felt more sorry for him. He was the understudy who wakes up onstage. Everyone was looking at him, waiting for him to act, to say something so they'd know what he sounded like, wondering how quickly he would fail. He was sixty years-old. Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt each appear five times in A Book of Ages. Eleanor Roosevelt appears three times.

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