Historical Highlight: CHS Grad Visits Oval Office
I’ll start by mentioning the WPA program in Cameron during the 1930s. This was part of FDR’s new deal that helped revive the depressed economy by providing jobs. The administrator for the area WPA was a man named Ted Sanders. Ted lived in Cameron for many years and was one of Harry Truman’s life-long best friends. Truman came to Cameron on many occasions to visit Ted and spend time away from the senate office and later the White house.
During Truman’s presidency, a Cameron High School graduate left the area to take a job as the National Secretary for the Future Farmers of America in the Washington DC area. His name is Charles Ocker and he accepted the job after graduating here in 1950. Charles told me in an interview that the FFA officers got to visit the White House and meet President Truman in the Oval Office.
During the visit Truman asked each of the officers where they were from and when he got to Charles, he said “Missouri” to which Truman responded “Missouri? Where in Missouri?” and Charles replied “Cameron”. Truman smiled big and said “Cameron? I’ve got a good friend Ted Sanders in Cameron”. Charles felt proud and smiled back, feeling special to have this local connection to the President. What an honor it was.
A week or so after Charles told me this story, I mentioned the conversation to Jim Ocker, Charles’ son. Jim said, “I think I’ve got a picture of that,” and the next time I saw Jim he gave me the photo shown here. I was amazed when I looked closely to see that in the photo President Truman is talking directly to Charles. The photo is a snap shot of the exact moment in time that Truman was telling Charles Ocker, the just out of high school kid from Cameron, that he had a good friend here.
Just consider how unlikely it would have been for any local Cameron kid to meet the President in the Oval office. Then, what are the chances the President would be best friends with an acquaintance. Finally, how crazy is it that a photograph was taken at the exact moment in time that the conversation was taking place. I know the photo is a treasure to the family. Thanks Charles, thanks Shirley, thanks Bob and thanks Jim for letting me share the story and the moment with our friends in the community.
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