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Archive for Monday, June 29, 1998

HISTORY COMES ALIVE AT MUSEUM

June 29, 1998

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About 80 people attended historical re-enactments of Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower Sunday at the Watkins Community Museum of History.

Men portraying presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower gave some insight into the most difficult moments of their presidencies Sunday at the Watkins Community Museum of History.

``The recognition of Israel (in 1948) was a difficult decision because there were many in my administration who opposed it,'' said William Worley, who portrayed Harry Truman.

``The end of October and early November 1956 were three of the most hectic weeks of my presidency'' because of the Soviet crackdown in Hungary and the Suez Canal crisis, said Loren Pennington, who portrayed Dwight Eisenhower.

Worley and Pennington spoke to about 80 people. Their portrayals of Truman and Eisenhower were held as an annual fund-raiser for the Douglas County Historical Society.

Both men took on the voice inflections of their characters, with Worley cracking jokes as Truman did and Pennington flashing Eisenhower's broad smile. Both presidents had roots in the area -- Truman was from Independence, Mo., and Eisenhower was from Abilene.

``It's hard to play Eisenhower because the real Eisenhower wasn't the one that was in the public eye,'' Pennington said.

``With Harry Truman, what you see is what you get,'' Worley said.

But both men said their characters did good things for the country.

Steve Jansen, director of the museum, said people like such historical re-enactments because it takes them back in time.

``I think we like to see history come alive,'' Jansen said.

Worley has a doctorate in history from Kansas University. He is director of the Kansas City Regional History Institute at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Pennington received his doctorate in history from the University of Michigan. He is a distinguished professor of history at Emporia State University.

-- Mike Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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