My mother’s mother, Mary Trulucia White, was born in Independence, Missouri in 1886. Interestingly, my mother shared few anecdotes or written details about her parents. Prone as I am to speculation, I’ve got next to nothing here. If I find more in notes unread, or if you as a related reader have information, even hearsay, please share. I’ve added some information below to give historical context to the times in which her mother lived. Charlotte’s (Mom’s) mother was the sixth child and second daughter of Alson Alexander White and Sarah Ann Robertson. Her father commuted by trolley from their home in Independence, Missouri to his downtown office in Kansas City. He worked for the growing Badger Lumber Company, where he’d been promoted from bookkeeper to treasurer.
Kansas City had developed one of the best trolley systems in the United States. Starting in 1870, the first trolleys were pulled by horses. By 1925, the transportation system had grown to over 700 trolleys. At that time, operation of the system was turned over to the Kansas City Public Transportation System.
I remember old trolley tracks running down 24 Highway and Sharon (my wife) remembers trolley tracks on Noland Road. The later trolleys that were hooked to overhead electric lines looked like the buses I used in my youth to get around town. There was a rumor—never refuted—that my mother and father, Charlotte and Leonard, were put off a trolley once...for a public display of affection.
The year Mary Trulucia was born, Grover Cleveland was president. I think he was the only president who wed while in office. He married a lady twenty-seven years his junior. Around that time, a pharmacist invented Coca-Cola in Georgia...don’t we wish we could go back in time and buy a few shares? There was a big riot and bombing in Chicago, where unions were pushing for an eight-hour workday. Geronimo and his band of Apaches surrendered in Arizona, which marked the end of the wars between the Native American Tribes and the United States Army. In New York, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated as a beacon of hope for millions of immigrants who would pass it in the decades to come. I think she might have shed a tear or two if she could have looked into the future.
Many changes have come since Mary’s time. At one time Lady Liberty welcomed people from Ireland, Italy, and many other places in all corners of the world; today, the great complexities of immigration have become a highly-charged political problem. The world’s population has increased six-fold in the 130 years since Mary’s birth. In 1886, the population of the world was less than one and a half billion. Today, it approaches seven and a half billion[LV1].
Technological advances has changed the way the world works in ways unimaginable by Mary and her contemporaries. We have gone from phones attached to the walls of our homes to cell phones that ride in our pockets and receive calls and text messages from tall cell towers that dot the landscape every few miles. In remote areas, you can use a satellite phone that bounces messages off satellites in orbit around the earth. In 1886, news in Independence, Missouri and other cities was found in newspapers such as the Independence Examiner. Today, instead of a once or twice daily newspaper printing, news is delivered almost completely digitally, and can be released instantaneously to millions through the internet. Television didn’t become a major source of news until the late 1940’s, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first President to appear on television. The first personal computer became available in 1975, and came as a kit. Twenty years later, they had become a standard feature in homes across America. Many of today’s younger generation have no memory of life without computers, and many rely heavily on social media websites for news, information, and communication[LV2].
Considering what we have available today, just forty-two years after the advent of the personal computer, it’s overwhelming to assess the changes that have come in the world. We could address a zillion other changes in the last century from the world Mary Trulucia lived in, compared to today’s influences and environment. There’s a bit of nostalgia and longing for what we of the older generation refer to as the ‘good ole days’. I don’t miss the hardships of travel, paucity of good reading material, and outhouses of two hundred years ago—but drop me off in the fifties with a good public transit system, a modern library, and indoor plumbing. Whether I like it or not, I’m caught in the modern milieu and chaos of self-driving cars, fake news websites, and transgender bathrooms where the lights, faucets and stool all operate by sensors…or not. How different is the world we now live in, compared to the world in which Mary Trulucia lived[LV3] !
I am curious as to how Mary Trulucia came to be courted by such an unwelcome suitor, at least in her parents’ estimation. He was a foreigner in their eyes—a lazy Italian with no prospects—and currently unemployed. Did they meet at school, on the trolley, or maybe at the soda fountain in the Clinton Drugstore on the Independence Square? No one remains living today that might know the answer, but it seems likely they met at school. The Noland School Mary Trulucia attended was built the year before she was born. It was located on Liberty Street, near its intersection with Pacific Street in Independence. It was originally called the Southside School, but was renamed in honor of Hinton Noland, a longtime member of the Independence School Board.
Long before he became President, Harry Truman was eight years old when he entered Noland School as a first grader in 1892. If my math is correct, that makes him two years older than Mary Trulucia, and it is likely that the two of them attended school together, albeit in separate grades. Early in 1894, Harry Truman became ill with diphtheria and was forced to drop out of school. When he was well enough to return, he transferred to the new Columbian School, which was closer to his home.
During the 1890’s, classes at the Independence High School were held upstairs in the Ott School on North Liberty Street. A separate building for the high school was completed at the corner of Maple Avenue and Pleasant Street in 1899, around the time Mary Trulucia would have been entering high school. Harry Truman and his future wife, Bess Wallace, finished grammar school in 1898 and graduated from Independence High School with the class of 1901. If I could find an old yearbook, I would bet—not the farm, but everything in my billfold and the loose change on my desk—that I would find Mary Trulucia and her beau, Wilford Alberti, her future husband, in that yearbook. A search of Google just now reveals I would have lost that bet, as I discovered that Independence High School didn’t start making yearbooks until 1911.