February, the month of U.S. Presidents and romance. I decided to mix the two, and fell in love with Harry. S. Truman’s ungainly attempts to express his heartfelt devotion for his one-and-only, Bess. He fell for her, he declared, at six, when they attended Sunday School together.
His feelings only strengthened over the years, even when Bess rejected his first proposal in 1911. His forthright letter stating his adoration and desire to marry Bess included his belief that she might say no, and created a three-week crisis. Bess rejected him then, but Harry took heart. His next letter described his take on this turn of events—at least she hadn’t laughed at him, the worst possible fate for a young man in love’s throes.
His humble tenacity amazes me—he persevered, content with friendship, and Bess complied. Two and a half years later, she admitted that if she ever did marry, she would marry Harry. Not much encouragement to go on, but enough for him.
They finally wed in 1919. Can you imagine such a long courtship?
All this talk of courtship brings me to a dear friend I’ve gotten to know over the past few years. Readers meet Dottie, the heroine of my debut novel, in 1946, during President Truman’s stay in the White House.
She and Bess have a few traits in common. They both know their minds. They’re strong, and don’t allow emotions or romantic notions rule. Having lost her son in WWII and with her daughter experiencing a difficult pregnancy, life is pretty serious for Dottie.
The last thing she expects, or thinks she needs, is courtship. But who can tell how the tides turn? We women control what we can of our lives, yet sometimes have no idea what lurks right around the corner.
For Bess Truman, residency in the White House waited. For Dottie? Well, you’ll have to read her story to find out.
You definitely won’t rue the time you spend reading Harry and Bess Truman’s courtship story, either—I could hardly stop. Rarely has a young man suffered such consistent rejection, yet waited so long for love to blossom.
Read the full story here: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2007/winter/proposal.html
If you have a favorite American President or a charming courtship story, please share with us.
WhiteFire Publishing released Gail’s memoir, Catching Up With Daylight in 2013, and her debut women’s historical fiction, In This Together (Wild Rose Press/Vintage Imprint) released in 2015. She also contributed to the Little Cab Press 2015 Christmas Anthology.
A World War II series is on the way!
Please feel free to contact Gail—meeting new reading friends is the meringue on her pie, as Dottie would say.
In This Together
After losing her only son to World War II and her husband soon after, Dottie Kyle takes a job at a local small-town Iowa boarding house. Her daughter Cora moved to California straight out of high school to work for the war effort, married a sailor and settled down in the Golden State—another loss.
Dottie cooks and cleans, volunteers at her church, and tends her garden. But she hungers to meet her two precious grandbabies on the coast. When troubles arise in Cora’s third pregnancy, Dottie longs to help, but old fears prohibit that arduous, cross-country train journey.
At the boarding house, complications arise that force Dottie to speak up for what’s right, and as her confidence grows, so does the unexpected interest of the widower next door. Dottie has no idea second chances wait right around the corner.