Monday, February 20, 2012

Beardless President Truman Gets Shaving Permit During Muskogee Visit

"Chief Injustice" Bob Hurst pins a shaving permit
on President Harry S. Truman
Muskogee was busy celebrating the Indian Centennial when the nation's 33rd President Harry S. Truman rode into town during his whistle stop presidential campaign on September 29, 1948.

Truman's special eighteen car presidential campaign train arrived at the KATY Depot about 12:35 p.m. and Mayor J. Ollie Lee officially greeted the President, who then shook hands with members of a reception committee.

The Secret Service set the estimated number in the crowd gathered at the depot, along East Okmulgee Street, and in Spaulding Park at 50,000 strong, swarming into Muskogee to see the "warhorse whose favorite rhetorical pastime was to "give 'em hell.' "  "Just how many persons saw or heard the President during his 45 minute visit couldn't be accurately judged, but indications were that local Democrats hadn't been overly optimistic in predicting a crowd of 25,000" reported the local newspaper.

In keeping with the spirit of the Indian Centennial celebration, beardless men and women wearing cosmetics were considered to be "villains." At the depot, Truman was confronted by a group of bearded men, members of the "Court of the Brush," which was organized for the celebration. But, Bob Hurst, the "Chief Injustice," allowed the nation's commander-in-chief to "escape from justice" while in Muskogee by pinning a shaving permit on the beardless U.S. President.

Truman received repeated applause as his forty-three vehicle "auto-caravan" moved slowly along the East Okmulgee route from the depot to Spaulding Park accompanied by shouts of "There He Is!"

Arriving at Spaulding Park, Truman was greeted by costumed Indians from Bacone College. The group reportedly included two nationally known Indian artists, Dick West and Acee Blue Eagle and the President shook hands with them. Truman's wife Bess and daughter Margaret were greeted by the "Hazing Harpies," the feminine equivalent of the "Court of the Brush." The "Harpies" gave feathers to the Truman women which entitled them to wear cosmetics while in Muskogee "without fear of punishment."

Governor Roy Turner and former Governor Robert S. Kerr who was running for a U.S. Senate seat at the time shared the platform in the park band shell with Truman.  "I certainly am most happy to be in the wonderful town of Muskogee." Truman told the very large crowd. "I don't know where all these people came from, but there must be everybody in Oklahoma here."

Muskogee Phoenix and Times Democrat

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