Whenever someone mentioned pancakes, without fail Thomas E. Jones would immediately think of Harry Truman.
It’s an odd word association for sure, but it’s understandable given Jones’ unusual place in our nation’s history.
On Aug. 14, 1945, Jones, a 16-year-old messenger in Washington, D.C., was entrusted to deliver to the White House the cable announcing Japan’s surrender to the United States to end World War II.
Unaware of his cargo’s import, the boy, in cavalier teenage fashion, put work on hold to eat pancakes at a diner, hang out with his friends and flirt with waitresses.
Later, he left his pancakes to complete the job only to be pulled over en route to the White House by a police officer, who berated the boy for making an illegal U-turn.
Meanwhile, President Truman and his inner circle waited for the note that would change history.
It was a hoax. USA Today has a correction.
As depicted in The Messenger, featured in a March 14 story in USA TODAY, Thomas E. Jones was charged with delivering a cable to President Harry Truman at the White House in August 1945, confirming Japan’s World War II surrender. In the 16-minute film, Jones is portrayed as being unaware of the envelope’s blockbuster contents and delaying the end of the war, first by having pancakes at a diner where he flirts with girls and then by being pulled over by a Washington, D.C., policeman for an illegal U-turn.
DVD press materials for the film show a man purported to be the real Jones recalling a police escort to the White House, where he meets “Harry Truman himself,” who takes the letter from him.
“He took it and shook my hand and thanked me, and then they went back into their office or somewhere,” he says to an off-camera interviewer.
It turns out that Perkins made up the escort, the encounter with Truman, the trip to the White House and the pancakes — he even hired an actor to play an elderly Jones for documentary-style footage, according to Croce.