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President Harry S Truman: Physical Description and Behavior

About the physical description and behavior of President of the United States Harry S Truman, his height, weight.

His Person: After he became President, commentators habitually referred to Truman as a "little man"; actually, he was 5'9" tall and weighed 167 lbs. He had steel-gray hair and light hazel eyes. Since the age of 8, Truman had been virtually blind without his thick, rimless glasses. His weak eyes, in fact, had blocked his youthful desire to enroll at West Point. "Haberdasher Harry" was always fond of bright-colored bow-ties and the loud sport shirts that he wore when relaxing were widely considered too "undignified" for a President. Truman's favorite form of exercise was walking; early each morning he got up and circled the White House at such a brisk pace that reporters and Secret Service men found it difficult to keep up with him. These walks continued during Truman's retirement, even as the former President approached 85 and was forced to use a cane. Though Truman's fiery temper was well-publicized, he was invariably open and friendly in his relations with aides and the press, and he refused to hold grudges. During the 1946 congressional campaign, he had called union leader Al Whitney, "un-American" and "an enemy of the people," and Whitney shot back with a much-publicized comment: "You can't make a President out of a ribbon clerk." When Whitney came to the White House some months after this exchange of insults, he had to walk twice around the building before working up the nerve to go in. Truman, however, greeted him without bitterness. "It's good to see you, Al. You look wonderful," he said. "Let's not waste time discussing the past. Let's just agree we both received bad advice."

Truman's preference for "earthy" language was of course legendary. He once offended a friend of his wife's at a Washington horticulture show by referring repeatedly to the "good manure" that must have been used to nurture the blossoms. "Bess, couldn't you get the President to say 'fertilizer'?" the woman complained. Replied the First Lady: "Heavens, no. It took me 25 years to get him to say 'manure.'"

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