Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And There Goes Margaret

I guess it's only fair, having done a few paragraphs recently on Caroline Kennedy to mention another presidential daughter. Margaret Truman has passed away. Margaret's fame came before my time, but like many, I always enjoyed the stories of Harry and his daughter. One of my favorite always being Harry's response to a critic from the Post after Margaret's singing performance.

On Dec. 5, 1950, she did a program by Schumann, Schubert and Mozart at Constitution Hall in Washington.

Washington Post music critic Paul Hume wrote in his review: "Miss Truman is a unique American phenomenon with a pleasant voice of little size and fair quality. She is extremely attractive on stage. Yet Miss Truman cannot sing very well. She is flat a good deal of the time -- more so last night than at any time we have heard her in past years."

After the president read the review the next morning, he wrote to Hume: "I've just read your lousy review of Margaret's concert. It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppycock . . . it shows conclusively that you're off the beam. . . . Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below."

Good old Harry - responding just like a father would, even if that father is also the US President. I never heard Margaret sing, but I have read a couple of the books that she wrote later in her life. Safe only thanks to Harry's demise many years ago, I can say that I found the books to be . . . well, let's just say Margaret could not write very well either. A line in one of her books is a favorite of mine to this day, "He noticed her flashing eyes." Which was fine enough, except it appeared in a scene of a phone conversation.

While Margaret may not have been a great singer, or author, she certainly does seem to have had a good life, and that's nothing to mock. So rest in peace Margaret, and if you can, please don't let Harry haunt me for the "not write very well either" line.


Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

oh yes, the truman/hume dustup is one of my favorite political stories, as is truman's characteristically blunt answer to a reporter who asked him why he disliked Richard Nixon--remember? "Because he's a goddamn liar!"

Harry S. didn't mince words...

10:45 PM  

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