President Truman visits Buffalo, 1962

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

A decade after leaving the White House, Harry S. Truman spent 38 hours in Buffalo during the spring of 1962.

The highlight of the trip was an honorary doctorate from Canisius College. During an address at the Jesuit college, Truman spoke for 30 minutes, mostly about the Cold War.

“You can make agreements with them but the record shows it won’t do any good.  I wouldn’t trust them across the street even if I could see them,” said Truman. He also said that Josef Stalin, who died in 1953, and the Soviets lied to him personally at least 32 times.

He also touched on “the race for space” and continued nuclear development and testing, saying all were vital, likening the work being done to that of Thomas Edison.

“If he had stopped then, we’d be sitting around here in candlelight,” Truman told about 300 students in attendance.

Truman told reporters that he’d never had so many intelligent questions asked of him as he did by the students of Canisius. “And I have been to Yale, Harvard, Columbia and my own University of Missouri,” he said as he smiled.

Former President Harry S Truman takes one of his famous strolls along Delaware Avenue, accompanied by Buffalo Police Detective Sgt. Joseph McCarthy. In the background is the Statler Garage, a parking ramp fronted with street level retail, kitty-corner from the Hotel Statler at the corner of West Mohawk and Delaware. It was torn down in 1992.
Former President Harry S. Truman takes one of his famous strolls along Delaware Avenue, accompanied by Buffalo Police Detective Sgt. Joseph McCarthy. In the background is the Statler Garage, a parking ramp fronted with street level retail, kitty-corner from the Hotel Statler at the corner of West Mohawk and Delaware. It was torn down in 1992. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Among the tough questions was one about the famous letter “threatening the manhood” of a Washington Post music critic who had panned his daughter’s singing. It was written on White House stationery.

“Both my wife and daughter wept after that. They’d said that I ruined them. But in the 1948 election there wasn’t a man with a daughter who didn’t vote for me. It isn’t what I did it for, but that’s the way it worked out.”

That was near the end of the student questions.  “I stood there an hour answering their questions and when they got too tough, I quit,” said Truman.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.