by KARA PETROVIC // Fall 2010
Dining with the president
In 1961 during my senior year in high school in Brooklyn, N.Y., I had applied for a number of scholarships to go to college and was supposed to select the scholarship I had been awarded by the end of February. I flat forgot to select my scholarship, as did two of my friends. The school counselor called us into his office and told us that he felt badly he hadn’t reminded us to select our scholarships but told us that he had sent our transcripts to a recruiter at the University of Kansas City (UMKC’s predecessor) and that we’d already been accepted into the school. The three of us didn’t know where Kansas City was.
We each boarded the train from New York to Kansas City with $50 in our pockets, (money that was supposed to last the whole year) and a sack lunch. Our sack lunch was supposed to last us the entire trip, but about 40 miles outside of New York we had already eaten everything in our bags. We got hungry again and went to find the dining car to see how much food was. But when we got there, we didn’t want to use our 50 bucks, so we got away from the table and sat against the wall.
As it got later, there were fewer people in the car and when people would leave the dining car, we would help them along to finish their plates. At one point, the porter came up and said, “The man over there would like for you to join him for dinner.” But before we boarded the train, we’d been warned about strange men on trains, so we told the porter no thanks. However, he was very insistent and kept pointing to his right, telling us it was safe.
I finally looked around him and I saw former President Harry S. Truman and his wife, Bess, waving at us. I yelled, “It’s Harry Truman,” and my buddy John replied, “Who is Harry Truman?” My other buddy George responded, “Truman, you know the guy who beat our Gov. Dewey.” We finally joined Harry and Bess at their table, and they basically adopted us. They started telling us everything about Kansas City, how great the University was, about the weather and how nice the people were. We spent the rest of the evening chatting with them, and he wanted to know everything about us. They bought us the best meal on the train, and we got a lot of great meals on the train thanks to Harry and Bess.
Michael J. Albano
B.A. ’65, J.D. ’68