Local family donates Truman’s autographed etching to National Press Club

Preston Webb, Chase Mitchell and Grant Mitchell, all three grandsons of Kenneth and Martha Wooden of Shelburne, presented Myron Belkind, President of The National Press Club in Washington, D.C., with an autographed etching of former President Harry S. Truman for the world’s leading professional organization for journalists Monday, July 28 in the nation’s capital.
The blue and white etching of the 33rd President was commissioned in 1967 for a conference brochure on “Politicians and Poets” organized by Wooden while he was Executive Director of the Institute of Applied Politics at Trenton State College in New Jersey. Impressed with the artistic quality of the etching by Mr. Walt Ibach, Wooden sent 22 copies to the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, asking the former President to autograph them. That he did—all 22 copies—and returned them, dated Aug. 25, 1967, with the cover letter.
Years later while visiting the Truman Library, its director told Wooden, “President Truman hated most drawings and paintings of himself, but he must have really liked that print to sign 22 copies!” Most of the autographed prints were given to family and friends over the years.
Now, one of the remaining autographed prints will hang in the Truman Room of The National Press Club, of which Wooden has been a member for over 40 years.
During World War II, Vice President Harry Truman sometimes stopped by the Press Club on Saturdays to visit with soldiers at a weekly canteen sponsored by the Club. He would also play the piano, and it was there that the famous photo of movie actress Lauren Bacall was taken sitting on the top of the piano with a smiling Vice President playing that old piano like never before. The Wooden Family’s gift will hang in that room, next to the piano.