Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Truman's Chrysler

This is a neat story about the fate of Truman's 1953 Chrysler New Yorker. Matthew Algeo wrote a book on Truman's 1953 journey in this car and was able to find out where this car ended up.
...at an event in Kansas City shortly after the book came out, I was approached by Carey Creason, an animal feed saleswoman from Kansas who insisted her father had bought Harry’s Chrysler back in the 1970s, and that the car was stored in a barn on her family’s farm. She showed me an old Polaroid of the car, which, I had to admit, looked a lot like Harry’s.

Last November, I visited the Creason farm to investigate. Ostensibly the family raises vegetables, hay, and horses, but their most conspicuous crop was vintage automobiles in every conceivable state of repair, which dotted the landscape.

...And there it was, a battered car parked headfirst against a wall at the back of the barn. It clearly was not in driving condition. The headlights were broken, the body was badly rusted, the tires were flat, and the trunk was caved in. Still, there was no doubt that this was a 1953 Chrysler New Yorker.
But was it Harry’s?

Carey opened a manila file folder she’d brought with her and removed a yellowing piece of paper. It was the original title to the vehicle, which listed the owner as Harry S. Truman of Independence, Missouri.

The title also noted the vehicle’s serial number: 7232332.

I walked over to the car and, with some difficulty, pulled open the driver’s door. Attached to the doorframe was a small rectangular metal plate: “VEHICLE NO. 7232332.”

Bingo! It was Harry’s car.

So what will happen to this old car?
Carey told me she doesn’t know what her family will eventually do with the car. The cost of restoring it is prohibitive. But she assured me that, ultimately, the family will find a buyer who will appreciate and honor the car’s historic lineage. In a small way, this battered Chrysler connects her family to Harry Truman, and she would like to preserve that connection.

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