I never met either of my grandfathers. I was the youngest child of my parents who were both the youngest children of their parents and their fathers didn’t wait around for me.
But, my father told me a story about his father.
William A, Foote spent most of his adult life as a traveling lumber salesman in the state of Arkansas. He worked for a lumber concern in Pine Bluff, and he would drive around the state working with builders to set up their orders.
He spent a lot of time on the road, but it was a trip that had nothing to do with his job that this story is about.
In 1920 when he was a young man, newly engaged to the lovely Miss Amy Jenkins, William had the opportunity to visit Kansas City. For a young man from the backwoods of Arkansas a trip to K.C. was almost as exotic as a trip to Paris.
It was quite the grandest place he had ever visited; wide, paved boulevards full of shiny black automobiles, huge buildings, some of them 10 or 20 stories tall. And the people! It was the people and the way they dressed that made the biggest impression on William.
Beautiful women with short hair, wearing trim, short dresses. And handsome gentlemen in suits with walking sticks, bowler hats and kidskin gloves.
For some reason it was the gloves that fascinated William the most and he decided that a pair of grey kidskin gloves were the one souvenir that he had to take back from his visit to “The Paris of the plains.”
Once he had made up his mind it wasn’t long before he happened on a small haberdashery on West 12th Street.
In the store, assisted by one of the proprietors, he bought not only the gloves that he so wanted but also a pair of fine linen handkerchiefs. The gentlemanly owner of the store placed William’s purchases in a small, flat box embossed with the store’s name in gold.
William returned home to Pine Bluff and wore those gloves on his wedding day. When the festivities were over, he returned them to their box and put it at the back of a dresser drawer. And, although he remained a fastidious and stylish man for the rest of his life, he never wore those loves again.
That would be the end of the story if it weren’t for what my father discovered when he was going through William’s possessions after William had passed away.
In the back of the dresser drawer my father found that glove box, and while most of the gold had been rubbed off through the years, the embossed name of the store was still readable: “Truman & Jacobson, Gentlemen’s Clothiers.” Inside the box was a handwritten receipt, “September 27, 1920. 1 pair kid gloves $3 and 2 handkerchiefs at $.50 per each, $1. Paid cash in full.” At the bottom were the initials H.S.T.
My grandfather had purchased his wedding gloves that meant so much to him from the future President of the United States, Harry S. Truman.