By BRIAN KRAPF
Candid photographs have become collectible items because they preserve glimpses of historic events or people. In my own collection, I include candid photos of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Photographs of Churchill with equally famous historic figures are all the more valuable. Shown here is a photograph that I recently acquired. Few history enthusiasts will fail to recognize the two men seen together: Churchill stands with his ubiquitous cigar, and President Harry S. Truman beams as he holds his hat in the air.
A fortunate witness to history, Baxter Brown Watson, took this candid photo at Westminster College on 5 March 1946, when Churchill visited Fulton, Missouri to deliver his famous “Iron Curtain” speech. Watson was a student of the college at the time and had the good fortune to be selected to serve on the “platform committee” that accompanied the world leaders on campus because his family was from Independence, Mo., the President’s hometown.
Watson snapped his photo just as Churchill and Truman arrived at the Washington-West House, the residence of college President Franc Lewis “Bullet” McCluer. Watson and a classmate then donned ceremonial robes and prepared to accompany the officials the 100 steps or so from the house to the gymnasium, where Churchill made his address. Mr. Watson, who served in the Army Air Force during the Second World War, is still with us today.
While the rest of us can only imagine what it was like to be in Fulton seventy-six years ago and get a candid glimpse at these two giants of history, we can visit Westminster College this year as part of the 2022 International Churchill Conference. Attendees will be able to visit America’s National Churchill Museum, attend the Enid and R. Crosby Kemper Lecture by Garry Kasparov, and enjoy lunch in the same gymnasium where Churchill delivered his speech in 1946. CLICK HERE for details.
Brian Krapf’s forthcoming book We Want Winston!—A Treasury of Memorabilia will be published in 2022.
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