Friday, July 4, 2014

What A Country!


I, like many of our readers, love The United States of America.  Both my father (Mayflower ancestry) and my mother (Delaware ancestry dating to the late 1600’s) have ancestors who have lived in what is now known as the United States of America before July 2nd/July 4th, 1776.  My roots run deep, my love runs deep, and yes, I do have concerns which I will not address here.  


Yakov Smirnoff, an American born Russian Comedian (aka: American Comedian of Russian Descent) has made a load of money off the line, “What a Country”, followed by, or proceeded by, talking about our beloved United States of America and comparing it to his ancestral homeland of Russia.  Here is an example: In America you can always find a party; in Russia the party always finds you.  Want more?  Click here.

What I do want to address is something that struck me after I read today’s post at Travel with the Bayfield Bunch.  Al, who is an excellent blogger, talked about some of the famous people he has seen or met through his life.  It reminded me of some of close encounters too…which I wish to share today.


Governor Pat Brown was the 32nd Governor of California.  Sometime in the ‘60’s, mom had taken us kids on a visit to the Capital in Sacramento where we lived.  When we got to the Governor’s office, we went in and mom asked, “Can I see Governor Brown?”  The secretary asked who we were, did we have an appointment, and mom let her know that we were just visiting the Capital and wondered if we might be able to visit the Governor to say “Hi”.  Well, she called into his office, he said sure, and we trotted into his office for a short, friendly visit…including a hearty handshake for each of us.


Well, it worked once, so let’s try it again with another Governor.  Governor and future President Ronald Reagan was the 33rd Governor of California.  On another visit to the Capital, this time with cousin who lived in Ohio along with us, mom once again entered the Governor’s office….but this time we were told that he was not there, he was flying down to L.A. in 45 minutes from the Executive Airport in South Sacramento.  Well, guess who lived just 1 1/2 miles from the airport?  So we rushed down there, and yep, we met Governor Reagan.  So gracious of him to walk over to us, shake our hands, ask my cousin what happened to her arm which was in a cast. Finding out that she broke it going down the slide into our pool “standing up” on the slide, he says, “Oh, our Skipper (Ron Jr.) did the same thing, but broke his leg.”  

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The 1968 Presidential Campaign brought many a Politian into Sacramento,with many of them landing and taking off from the Executive Airport close to our house.  During that summer my brother and I, sometime with a cousin, would ride bikes over to the airport to watch planes come and go.  During two of these occasions we met Presidential candidates Robert Kennedy and George Wallace, each of whom shook our hands as they passed by.  The next year mom and dad took us to Washington D.C., and we saw the small white cross which still stands over Bobby’s grave.  I am fairly sure it was the last time he visited Sacramento when we saw him.


In 1976 the Sacramento Railroad Museum opened.  In 1981 the museum’s complex was complete, and Governor Brown was there to celebrate the opening….as was I.  Now I took pictures of this on my old film camera, but those are back home or with my daughter. I am in this crowd somewhere.  And oh, just to keep everyone straight….this is Governor Jerry Brown, Pat Brown’s son, who was the 34th Governor, and after a nearly two decade hiatus, he is also the current Governor (39th) and the longest serving Governor of the state.  Of all of the people listed in this posting, his is the handshake I never got, but I was there at the opening of the new Railroad Museum, and if you have a chance, you should plan on visiting it too.

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Bill Cartwright played for the Bulls, went to school in Elk Grove, just south of Sacramento.  One of my employees knew Bill and brought him into the restaurant a few times….he literally had to duck to get under the door.  A real nice guy.  Two or three times I saw John Madden up at Harrah’s in South Lake Tahoe.  One of the biggest hands I ever shook. Around 1983 I attended a Fellowship of Christian Businessmen in San Jose with the founder of the restaurant chain I worked for.  An Oakland Raider, who was on the 1980 Super Bowl Team, was there and passed around his ring.  It could fit on my thumb without touching the sides.  I think it was Mickey Marvin, but frankly, I was so excited to see and hold that ring that his name just has not stuck with me.

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My parents met Jacob Henry in the late 70’s or early 80’s.  His full name is Jacob Henry "Buddy" Baer, brother of Max Baer, Uncle of Max Baer Jr. (Jethro on Beverly Hillbillies TV show who also happened to by my Uncle Mac’s newspaper boy back in the 1950’s).  Buddy was a Heavy Weight Boxer, with a record of 52-7 with 46 knockouts, with two of those losses coming to the legendary Joe Louis. Like his brother and nephew, he also was an actor. Buddy had the biggest hand I ever shook….no doubt about that.  When I met him, he looked like the picture on the right, but a tad bit older.  There have been a few other sports figures…but let’s go back to the dirt…errrr…Politician's.


It is difficult to live in Arkansas, be the Director of a Public Library, and NOT meet the Governor of the state.  First was Bill….no offense taken to the offices he held….if you are from Arkansas, you call him Bill.  Even many of those who followed him to D.C. said it was hard to not call him Bill, but they learned very quick to call him “Mr. President” in public.  I had not been in the state more than 3 months before I met him for the first time.  Hillary, well, I met her in D.C. while eating in the Senate’s Restaurant.  I never met their daughter, but all three were avid Library users up in Little Rock.  Ok, a few stings here….the Clinton Presidential Library looks a lot like a very large double wide trailer, and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock has been called the “HillBilly Airport” by many of the locals.

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Governor Jim Guy Tucker, left, followed Clinton…went to prison due to White Water investigation.  Governor and former Pastor Mike Huckabee, center, was my favorite turned least liked Governor due massive cuts he made to the Public Libraries during his administration, and the half truths he told about it to try and justify his actions.  And my favorite Governor, and current Governor, Mike Beebe, who, along with local State Senator Jay Bradford, saved and later restored the funding to the Public Libraries.  

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On our blog-site, at the bottom, you will find these two images.  To us, they represent all that is right about our country.  Who would have thought that this boy born in the ‘50’s would have such an opportunity to see so much, and meet so many.  There are others who are not listed that should be, but this is long enough…..Have an enjoyable 4th of July, and remember what it is all about.  What A Country…yes indeed.


  1. I, your Canadian friend who lived in USA as a child, would like to wish you and yours a very Happy Independence Day! Happy 4th of July! Blessings, Lynn

    1. I hope you had a nice "Canada Day", and you too have a Blessed Day.


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