Sam and Harry had been through a rough but satisfying day at work. The organization they both worked for had been busy for the past few years in the Allied war effort. It was April, 1945, and the war had only a few short weeks left. Sam and Harry both knew this for sure, and the fact the United States was going to win the war gave them both great satisfaction. Besides both being southerners, the two men were the heads over their respective departments at work, and, as such, they had much in common both at work and in their home lives.
As the pair was getting ready to leave work that day, Sam invited Harry to his office so they could have a drink. The two were old friends, and they knew each other well after years of working together. And, as old friends do, Sam and Harry could get a lot of work done with talks over a few highballs, sometimes even more work than they could do when they were actually performing their jobs. Sam, as he usually did, loosened his tie and propped his feet on his desk. Harry never loosened his tie; it was a mark of the man that, while he was not wealthy, he dressed well and took pride in his immaculate work wear.
The two co-workers talked for awhile about Harry’s family. Sam had no children, and his homelife was lonely since he was divorced. That’s another reason he appreciated Harry’s willingness to stay and share a drink with him. There wasn’t much for Sam to go home to. Harry’s daughter had recently turned 21 and was wanting to pursue a musical career. Harry was in the middle of his second glass of Sam’s whiskey and his usual diatribe against his daughter’s career choice when Sam’s phone rang.
The two men looked at each other. Answering the work phone after hours couldn’t lead to anything good. It had to be someone who needed something, something the two men would not want to address. “Let it ring, Sam,” Harry advised. “They’ll stop in second.” Sam nodded and knocked back another swig of the bourbon. The phone stopped ringing. “See?” Harry said, and motioned towards Sam with his empty glass for Sam to fill it again.
But the phone rang again. And, again, the pair swapped looks. Sam sighed and leaned forward, taking his legs off the desk. He picked up the phone. “Yeah?” he answered. As he listened, Sam set down his glass. Harry could hear the voice on the other end of the line, but he couldn’t make out what the person was saying. “Yeah,” Sam repeated. “Right now. Got it.” He hung up the phone and turned to Harry.
“The boss wants us,” Sam said. “That was his secretary.”
“I thought he was out of town?” Harry said.
“Well, apparently he’s back, ’cause they just called from the house. We’ve got to go there right now. Side entrance,” Sam explained. Harry grimaced, and now it was his turn to set down his glass. Sam picked up the phone again and called for car. The pair made their way down to the street where a dark car waited by the curb. They entered it and rode the short distance to the boss’s house in silence. When they arrived at the large place, the security guard waved them in.
Harry got out of the car first and made his way to the side door of the large mansion. There was a woman waiting there for him. He greeted her warmly and, out of respect for the boss’s wife, removed his hat.
Eleanor Roosevelt took Harry Truman’s hand and, without emotion, said, “Harry, the President’s dead.”