Today, on the occasion of President Reagan’s 106th birthday
“WE REMEMBER” – Being center stage with Ronald Reagan
In the early 1990s, Pat and I were invited to attend a reception at the at Reagan Library to celebrate the opening of a new, special exhibit. Unbeknown to us, former President and Mrs. Reagan were going to be there to open the exhibit of artifacts from each of the previous 39 presidents.
When we got to the library we were directed to the room where the exhibits, including President William Howard Taft’s gigantic bathtub. were displayed. In preparation for the former President’s attendance, a rope line had been set up in front of the display cases. Pat and I found a good spot behind the rope line. It was 2nd row center behind a family with two pre-teen children. This allowed short, little Pat to stand behind the kids and have a front, row center, unobstructed view of the podium and the President.
President and Mrs. Reagan soon arrived and were introduced to the small gathering of 150 to 200 people. The President then proceeded to cut a ribbon to formally open the exhibit and then give a short speech. His talk was not so much a speech but more like a standup comedian’s routine. He had one joke after the other and even played several old Stephen Foster songs on “his harmonica” which was his contribution to the exhibit.
The entire proceedings, which lasted a little more than 20 minutes, was quite relaxed and enjoyable. However, for Pat and I, the proceedings were a little strange if not awkward. Every time that Reagan would tell a joke he would look directly at Pat and me for affirmation or acknowledgement. Several times he winked at us causing Pat to nudge me and gesture “what going on”. I certainly had no idea, but Reagan definitely appeared to be singling us out for special attention.
When his little talk was over, Reagan worked the rope line, greeting and shaking hands with everyone in attendance. It wasn’t until the President got to the family in front of us and the President hugged the kids and the man said “ Hi Dad” that we realized that Reagan had not been looking at us, making eye contact and winking at Pat and I. Rather he was interacting with the kids in front of us who just happened to be the President’s Grand Children.
So much for the short perception that Pat & I were in the Presidential spotlight and receiving special presidential attention! NO – we were just the background as an affectionate, but very special, grandfather performed for his grandkids!
A joint recollection of Pat & Frank Fleming
Posted 2/6/17 by Frank Fleming
In Loving Memory Of
1936 – 2016