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Chapter Three The Farm The Young farm, as it was known in Grandmother Young's lifetime, afterward the Truman farm, was an impressive place. The entrance showed the size of the establishment. The farm lay along a county road next to a little cemetery, which Truman often described to visitors so they might identify the farm ("that is where you get off").l A visitor turned at right angles from the road and up a long lane lined with four rows of big maples. Grandfather Young and Harry's mother had planted those trees after the Civil War. At the end of the lane stood the house. A couple of hundred feet behind was the barn, a sloped-roof affair, inside of which were stalls for the horses, mules, and cows. Other buildings lay behind, including a smaller hay barn. The farm looked like a big farm ought to look. The son of a neighbor liked to sit out on the back porch of his house during evenings and look at the Young farm and pastureland, which to him was a beautiful sight. Recently, two photographs have turned up of the Young farm in its heyday, when the Trumans were there before World War I. They show rural beauty of a sort one rarely sees now, a family farm that stretched out in accord with the size of surrounding fields, a place to contemplate. The photograph taken in summer has the dull, cloudless sky of turn-of-the-century pictures, but displays the farm's sweeping proportions. The winter photo reveals the loneliness, the isolation, and the independence of the farm. During Grandfather Young's time the farmhouse at the end of the lane was a virtual mansion, built in 1867 or 1868. This was the house in which the Trumans had lived, along with the grandparents, before going to Independence in 1890. It burned a year after the grandfather's death, in 1893. Grandmother Young replaced it with a much smaller place, intending it as a tenant house. She never built another big house. Erected on the same foundation as its predecessor, this smaller house was the place that became so familiar to Harry Truman when the family returned to help the grandmother. Like the former house, albeit on a much smaller scale, the new one had two rooms in 37 38 / Harry S. Truman front, living room and parlor, in accord with custom of the time. In back of them was a small dining room, and in back of it a narrow kitchen. The latter had an outside screened porch, quite small compared to the extended porches of the burned house. Separating parlor and living room was a stairway that took residents to bedrooms over each. Harry Truman's mother and sister had the bedrooms. Behind was a small room with a sloped ceiling-Harry's bedroom . Like the little house in Lamar, the Grandview farmhouse was not "modern"; there was no running water. Outside the porch, convenient to the kitchen, was a well with a wooden frame over it, wheel at the top, around which stretched the rope on which one pulled to raise the bucket below. But what a comedown it must have been for Harry Truman to go back to the farm after having lived in Kansas City, to reduce his circumstances to a farm, even one like the Young farm! He had been happy in the city, not with the bank work but with the wonderful opportunities for entertainment and fun in evenings and on weekends. It was exhilarating to live in the midst of the fast-moving metropolis, at the very time it was growing in an almost astonishing manner-population increasing, skyscrapers rising, new theaters opening. Whatever the young man's feelings he kept them to himself. He did say years later that when he went to the farm his friends thought he would stay a week, a month, no more than a year. For whatever their surprise was worth, he fooled them. He stayed eleven years. His father and mother and Mary Jane moved from Clinton in 1905; Harry quit the bank and went out late the next year; Vivian meanwhile came from Kansas City. Vivian married in 1911 and left for a farm of his own. Harry Truman farmed with his father for a while, until the elder Truman died in 1914 after lifting a huge boulder in his role as township road overseer; the exertion aggravated a hernia, and...


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