Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1951

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Author: Harry S Truman  | Date: January 24, 1951

21
Remarks at a Dinner in Honor of Joshua Evans.
January 24, 1951

I AM HERE because, as I said about Paul Wooton the other night, Mr. Evans—and I never call him anything but Mr. Evans; you see he was my banker—was kind to me when I needed it.

You know, there used to be an old humorist in the eighties by the name of Josh Billings, and he had one saying that I never forgot. He said, "Always be kind to your poor relations, some of them may suddenly become rich some day, and it will be hard to explain."

I will say that to Paul Wooton and Mr. Evans, that they were kind to a poor Senator when he came to town. They didn’t look into the future. Mr. Evans used to be willing to float a little slow paper once in a while and I never forgot it. And I am here tonight to pay tribute to him, because he was my friend when I needed it. I never forget those things, as I don’t forget other things-as I told you the other night.

I want to express appreciation to this orchestra for rendering the things that I think most of, and I want to pay a compliment to that young Mr. Graham who sang here a while ago. He has a lovely voice, and I want to give him the same advice that I gave my daughter. He is 17 years old. You finish that education and get yourself a degree from a standard college—I don’t care which one it is—because nobody can take that away from you. Then, if you feel that you want a musical career, go and get it. That is what my baby did. I wouldn’t let her start in the musical profession until she had finished her education at George Washington University, and she not only spent 4 years getting herself a degree, she got me one for nothing!

I enjoy a meeting like this. I don’t very often get a chance to come to dinners of this kind just for friendship’s sake. The dinner is usually a formal affair, with the President as a drawing card and principal speaker. And sometimes he has nothing to say—but he has to say it anyway.

I never had any fear of bankers. I almost became one. I spent some of my teenage years, until I was 22 years old, working in a bank at home. I started in at $35 a month, which was an immense salary in those days, and wound up drawing $125 a month and being responsible for a million dollars a day in a cage—and I am still out of jail, they haven’t caught up with me yet.

I almost became a musician, too. The editor of the Star here he and I were discussing our careers that might have been as musicians. I didn’t finish my career as a musician, and I understand that the president of the bank here also wanted to be a musician just as I did. But we branched off into other fields, and maybe we will profit by the experience we had in those various fields, because I think I am ready for mydaughter to become a professional musician, and this young man here, I think, will have a wonderful voice in the days to come.

I have no yen to get into banking. I have had a great many wonderful friends-Thornton Cooke, that you spoke of—Jo Zach Miller, who is executive vice president of the biggest bank in Kansas City, and numerous other great bankers have been friends of mine. They never were willing to lend me money, because I wasn’t worth it, but then they sometimes helped me politically, and bankers have great influence politically, just as doctors do. I have been wondering how I am going to get that doctors’ situation in hand so they will come back and still be political friends of mine. We will manage it someway.

I want to thank every one of you for the friendly meeting we have had, and to thank Josh Evans for retiring so that I could have a pleasant evening.

I hope he doesn’t retire. There is still too much left in him to retire. No man with the physical condition which the doctors say he has—and my doctor says the same thing, he says if he took care of just me he wouldn’t have anything to do—and I think that is the same situation with you, Dr. Bloedorn, if your only patient is Josh Evans, you will be broke all the time.

I hope he will continue in the public service, in which he has always been interested. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him come back here and start a bank in competition with Riggs and Hamilton National, and make a success of it in the next 10 years. You see, I got acquainted with other bankers who became my friends, and I appreciate that, too, owing to the fact that Mr. Evans was willing to float a little loose paper for me.

It has been a pleasant evening. I have enjoyed it immensely, and I hope you, Mr. Evans, have a most happy career from now on.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:05 p.m. at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. In his opening remarks he referred to Joshua Evans, Washington banker and civic leader, and Paul Wooton, Washington correspondent for the New Orleans Times-Picayune (see Item 18). Later the President referred to Thornton Cooke, an officer in the Columbia National Bank in Kansas City, Mo., Jo Zach Miller III, an officer of the Commerce Trust Co. in Kansas City, and Dr. Walter A. Bloedorn, Washington physician.

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Chicago: Harry S Truman, "21 Remarks at a Dinner in Honor of Joshua Evans.," Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1951 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1951 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.655-656 122. Original Sources, accessed August 16, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZADJ8JR3YM6VKU.

MLA: Truman, Harry S. "21 Remarks at a Dinner in Honor of Joshua Evans." Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1951, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1951 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.655-656, page 122. Original Sources. 16 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZADJ8JR3YM6VKU.

Harvard: Truman, HS, '21 Remarks at a Dinner in Honor of Joshua Evans.' in Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1951. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1951 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.655-656, pp.122. Original Sources, retrieved 16 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZADJ8JR3YM6VKU.