Thursday, December 28, 2006

President Gerald R. Ford..1913-2006 ..I wrote this piece a few months ago, My day I spent with him.Nov. 10, 1999...

I would like to express my sadness at the passing of President Gerald R. Ford. He was President when I was in High School. He was also a warm and friendly man. I was very lucky to spend some time with him in 1999 as I was there doing recordings in my recording program. Now as we recall and remember this man, I hope this story will make you see what a nice man he was, and he sure was too me.

I have changed it around some to fit with present situation. I will write a history of Ford in a few days.

President Gerald R. Ford signed his autobiography for me when I and my team were his guests at his compound in Rancho Mirage, California. He carried the book into his office and sat at his deck and signed it and brought it back to me. At that time I met Betty Ford, and one of the ford dogs who gave me a real good sniff.

Ford's autobiography that he carried to his office. He was such a simple, warm, real, person...I feel so lucky to have spent some time with him.

Gerald R. Ford when he was President

President Ford and I listen to a cylinder of President Theodore Roosevelt on an Edison phonograph circa 1910. He was born the year after that recording was made. It was a special moment as the 26th President spoke to the 38th...That was really a special moment, and was a remarkable moment in time. Ford said that you could do Roosevelt's speech today! It really was a historic moment.

Talking about how recordings were made as I held a wax cylinder in my hand to show him. We talked of that and many other subjects with the President. We had a really good time.
The President wrote me afterwards saying that he really enjoyed the visit and playing with the recordings and making a few cylinders recordings for me.
He remembered his parents had an early phonograph. He said at the time "I do not know how they afforded it". He explained his father (even though Gerald Ford Sr. was his step father he always regarded him as his father)had a paint store. Life for them was simple..He remembered as a boy listening to the old records on the phonograph. We talked about so many subjects including the Warren Commision, and the movie JFK, Jazz music, His family, the history of sound recording, Jack Ruby, his life at the time,and how much fun he was having making these records that we made. It was a great day!

It is amazing but it was seven years ago today I was in California and interviewing and recording former President Gerald R. Ford. He is a wonderful man. Full of good thoughts and interesting facts. He was 86 years of age when I recorded him.

His compound was a fascinating place. Secret Service were all around. I went there with my team to make a historic recording. Make it we did.

Gerald Ford historically is one of our most interesting of Presidents. He was not elected, nor was his Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. He represents an interesting period in American history when the entire government was in confusion.

He was put into office by Richard Nixon, and he was not elected to that office either.

He had a certain grace about him. He is not at all like the fellow who is often pictured in the press as a dense fellow. That was so unfair.

He was very funny. He told me "Not bad for 86, huh?"....He said that he swam 2 times a day.

I know the day I met him he was having fun talking about his grandson who was 3 at the time. He said he was going to teach him to golf. But he said his grandson swings his club so wild...We all laughed.

He said he would often go for walks at night with John F. Kennedy..He was also the last survivor of the Warren commission. He told us about being in a jail cell with Jack Ruby. He talked of the movie JFK. "It's a good movie" he said, "just not correct"...

We had a good time making the recordings, and after we sat down and listened to a cylinder recording of Theodore Roosevelt...Ford said "you could do that speech today"

I know the quote by Lyndon Johnson...I think most people do. But for the few who don't here is it basically. "Gerald Ford played football too long without a helmet".
Well, I don't think Lyndon Johnson liked anyone but himself anyway...So it means little to me.

The man I met on November 10, 1999 was a smart, graceful, strong, and energetic man of 86 years.
He had originally said that we had about 15 minutes. But soon we were talking and recording and an hour went by...Ford spoke on many things. I will write more about him in some future posts.

I remember that Peter Jennings had 2 autographs on his desk at his office in ABC. One of them was a autographed picture of Gerald Ford. I remember Peter Jennings said of Ford that he had guts and did what he thought best for the country, even if it cost him the election.

President Ford also received the Profiles in Courage award from the John F. Kennedy Library for pardoning Nixon. Many thought it was wrong to do, But Ford knew if he did not it could have destroyed the Presidency. He said to me that he would easily do it again as he felt it was the right thing to do. Today everyone sees his wisdom in doing so.

Today I wanted to remember him, and what a great man he was. He saved the Presidency.

He was the oldest President ever....

He told me many stories of his life and his father who had a paint store. Mr. President, thank you for sharing a wonderful day with me 7 years ago. You gave me a lifetime of wonderful memories of a special day in Rancho Mirage.

I remember the last thing that the President said to me as I was leaving and picking up my Edison phonograph...He said "Thank you, this was enjoyable, and that is quite a unit" I said to him, thank you Mr. President and he said goodbye....

So today December 26, 2006 Gerald Ford left us. He was very important in saving the Presidency.....I really liked him. and I was lucky to know him for a brief moment of time.

1 comment:

Pete said...

I really enjoy your piece about President Ford. I had read the article about his recording the phonograph a few years ago, and was intrigued. I too have an autographed picture of the President on my desk - he was quite an outgoing President and a fine man. Glad to become reacquainted with the story of this recording.

Pete McRoberts

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