Polaroid – Harry S. Truman – Independence, Missouri circa 1970

I remember very clearly when this photo was taken (if not the exact year). I was only 8 or 9 years old, and we were on a family vacation. We were driving through Independence, Missouri on our way to the Truman Presidential Library.

Truman My father suddenly pulled the car to the side of the road – “That’s Harry Truman!”, my father exclaimed. He then asked Mr. Truman if he could take a photo. The Ex-President agreed.

Later my father had this photo enlarged and sent it to Mr. Truman – Mr. Truman signed the enlargement and sent it back to my father (my father has an autographed photo of every President that has served in my father’s lifetime).

I now have the original Polaroid, as well as several copies of the original.

I’ll see if the Truman Library has any interest in the photo. I think it was taken just a couple of years before Mr. Truman’s death. You can see a gentleman to the right of Mr. Truman – I think this was his secretary, but I am not sure. I know it wasn’t Secret Service though – Mr. Truman was walking in broad daylight without a security detail. The times have changed.

If you click the image you will get a high-resolution scan. You might notice that Harry S. Truman, the man who ended World War II by ordering the only use of  atomic weapons in combat, is sticking his tongue out!

My brothers may remember more of the details (exact year, etc). Read the comments – they may share their remembrances there.


  1. Avinash Machado says:

    Great photo. Truman left office with low approval ratings, but today historians rank him as one of the best Presidents.

  2. Jeff Krause says:

    Hi–this is a very interesting photograph! Truman’s appearance changed quite a bit in the last few years of his life (even beyond the horn-rimmed spectacles that replaced the wire-rimmed ones he was best known for). One point I should make in light of the comments on your polaroid, though is that Harry Truman was 88 years old at the time of his death in 1972, and thus would have been around 85 or 86 at the time that your father’s picture was taken. Thanks for the interesting old polaroid image!

  3. George Gordon says:

    Hello Rob,

    I have some information for you. My current Director of the Alpharetta Dept. of Public Safety (GA), statrted as a police officer in Independence MO. in 1970. He says the gentlemen in the picture with Mr. Truman was police Lt. Mike Westwood. Former President Truman hated to have the secret service agents around. He would order them to keep a far distance from himself at all times. They actually had to use the house across the street to watch over him. The officer in Independence in 1970 went on the become their police chief 30+ years later.

    I hope this helps. Mr. Truman was 91 years of age in your photo.

  4. Mike – very cool. Thanks for confirming that.


  5. The other man is indeed Mike Westwood. He was my step-father.

  6. @Abed – would love to see it – rob at lagesse.org – Thanks!

  7. I was looking up photos of past ex presidents and came across this photo of Truman. Amazing photo and story. I noticed the lens specs and overexposed lower left of the photo and decided to download your photo and clean it up with my PhotoShop program. I was bored. I hope you don’t mind. But it looks good. Don’t know if this comment will reach you, but if you would like me to send the cleaned up version of the photo, email me with your address and i’d be happy to send it. All the best.

  8. @Matt – I don’t have the autographed version – my father has it in Arkansas. As chance has it though, I head to Arkansas to visit him tomorrow morning. I’ll see if he will either give it to me to send to the library, or let me borrow it to do a hi-res scan.

  9. Matt Warman says:

    The first time I was on this site and clicked on the pic it wouldnt do anything. Now it does, weird. I also got your email. Thanks.
    I think the other man in the photograph is Mike Westwood
    who worked for the Independence Police Department and chauffered the President and acted as a body guard for him (even after the secret service came into the picture in 1964). Can you post a copy of the autographed version of the picture?

  10. @Matt – did you click on the picture? There is a higher res version if you do.

  11. Matt Warman says:

    Id love to see a hi res scan of this pic. I cant see it very well on the net. Its actually very interesting. There aren’t a whole lot of pictures of President Truman in the last year or 2 of his life.

  12. I’ll also put an extremely high resolution link to the photo online later in the week. The scan produced an image that was too large for WordPress to handle. Once I get it online I’ll put the link here in these comments.


  1. […] Polaroid – Harry S. Truman – Independence, Missouri circa 1970 […]