Truman visit led to ear-boxing
By Darlene Warren
BIG SANDY, Texas--When Bob Sanders isn't busy singing special music, teaching bowling or adding onto his house, you might ask him to tell you about the time he met Harry S. Truman.
"Certainly I remember Truman," recalls Mr. Sanders, a member of the United Church of God congregation that meets in the East Texas town of Gilmer.
Mr. Sanders, 82, who lives near Big Sandy with his wife, Shirley, sat down with a Journal reporter in January to tell the story of an encounter with Mr. Truman.
The story begins back in 1918, when Bob Sanders' father was serving in Battery B of the 138th Field Artillery of the U.S. Army during World War I in France.
A young Missourian, Mr. Truman belonged to Battery A of the same outfit.
Edward Sanders and Harry Truman trained together on the Mexican border before shipping off to Europe, becoming good buddies in the process.
Upon their return to America, they, along with other Missourians, formed a "last-man's club." That meant that each year some veterans and former comrades in arms would meet at a predetermined place and pay their respects to any member who had passed away during the previous year.
A club ritual they followed was to leave an empty chair turned up to the table to signify each missing comrade.
"When they got down to the very last man, he was to open a special bottle of champagne and drink a toast to all his departed buddies," said Mr. Sanders. "In preparation for that, they would get together every year or two and have a few drinks together."
Meeting the man
In 1936, when Mr. Sanders was 17 and attending high school in St. Louis, Mo., his father brought Mr. Truman, then a U.S. senator, home for a few beers.
"My dad and Mr. Truman were in the kitchen drinking, and I was in the living room studying.
"Well, the bathroom--which they frequented that evening--was at the end of the hallway. In order to get to it you had to pass through the living room.
"Mr. Truman must have thought we had a very large family, because, every time he passed by, my dad introduced him to me."
Seventeen-year-old Bob would always politely rise from his chair, shake hands, talk a few minutes and return to his study.
"But, about the sixth or seventh time I was introduced, I said, 'I've already met the man.' I got my ears severely boxed for saying that.
"So, yes, I remember Truman."
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