the Past, Present & Future
Chance Meeting with President Harry S. Truman
By William O. “Bud” Disney Senior
On a beautiful early fall day, a blue sky, almost warm because of
the bright sun, even though the leaves of the Nation’s Capitol
had begun to change ever so slightly, I had a chance meeting.
Fall was in the air and it was football season.
The year was 1952, though the fighting continued in Korea so far away,
life went on in our country. President Harry S. Truman was truly a
man of the people. He was one of us. He was known for his morning
constitutions, walking the area of the White House, especially the
Ellipse, the Mall. Which extends from the Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting
Pool, Washington Monument and Museums and to the Capital Building.
I was an assistant coach of a Boy’s Club
of Washington, Georgetown Branch peewee football team. The game was
being played at the Washington monument Grounds, south and across
Constitution Avenue from the ellipse. The Boy’s Clubs used several
field sites across the D.C. area park systems.
Sitting on the west side of the field, with the
Washington Monument on our right rising up on a hill, the flags waving
in the breeze, the Capital in the distance, the contest on the field
was the only event to us in the world.
I was, along with the team, sitting on a wooden bench—two
of these pushed together gave us about a 12-foot bench. At one end
sat a metal bucket with water and a metal dipper for our team to use
to drink or just rinse our mouths out.
The coach was pacing up and down yelling at the
players, encouraging or being critical, depending on how the game
was going. A team water dispenser used by all—my how things
Without noticing, our eyes on the field and listening
to all the chatter on the bench, yelling, the referee’s whistle
blew as the game progressed.
Without ado, there appeared to the right, a man
dressed in a suit, white shirt, and tie. A dress hat on his has head,
different, his hat brim was not turned down and stayed consistent
around his head. His glasses were plain and his face ruddy and wore
a generous grin. There was no question the man was the President of
the United States, Harry S. Truman.
Behind him were two men also dressed, suits, shirts,
ties, hats and sunglasses. While all the time their heads were turning
with watchful vigilance, taking in all that was happening. Without
remembering what was exactly said because of this moment of excitement
and a little apprehensive of his presence, it probably went like this
once he was recognized
The President said, “Good morning boys. What’s
the score?” Do not recall the answer, but am sure we all said
“Good Morning Mr. President.”
Except one wise guy—and there is always one—near
me, with his head down and rather quietly said, “What do you
say Harry”, or something like that. It was not heard, we may
have all stood up or just sat. It was a great moment we were left
in total shock.
We were awed and it was not until later that it registered
what had happened.
The trio stayed for a few moments and watched the
progress of the game. Before leaving he said, “Have a nice day
and good luck,” and left as quietly as he arrived. It would
be later before I realized and that we or myself had actually addressed
the President of the United States.
One of life’s gratifying moments, when you
think of life, how many people ever get to speak to the president
of this country? Not many, especially on that level.
As I remember, maybe not exactly, but never the