Friday, February 04, 2011

My Private Interview With President Ronald Reagan

As we mark President Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday on February 6, I'm transported back to a day during the fall of 1990. At that time I had the unique opportunity to spend much of a day with him as he visited his boyhood home in Dixon, Illinois. This turned out to be the last time he would visit there.
The original video is now housed at the Reagan Presidential Library in California. The following pictures were shot off of my TV screen from a VHS copy of the original material so the quality is diminished.

Along with the rest of the video crew, we were given Secret Service clearance for the day and shadowed him where ever he went.
We began at the river where, as a lifeguard, he saved many lives. There he skipped stones on the river and talked about his experiences.
We walked up to the thirdfloor gym where he had played basketball. Mr. Reagan took a few shots from the free-throw line.

We covered him with video cameras as crowds pushed toward him and made the Secret Service people nervous. For most of the day I was never more than inches or a few feet from one of the greatest men I believe this country has ever had as its leader.
A group of schoolchildren recited the Pledge of Allegiance as he stood out in front of the house. He went to the garage in the back of the house and then on to the statute of himself.
Mr. Reagan spoke to a full house that had gathered in the high school gym. There he was presented with a letter jacket. He proceeded to the football field and threw passes to some of the team.

The most unique experience came when we traveled to the actual house. There we set up for the only video interview that he gave that day. I was able to ask him a number of personal questions about growing up in that house.

After the interview, President Reagan was kind enough to send me a personal letter of thanks.


James D. Maxon said...

Nice, you should transfer the video from VHS to YouTube. That would be fun to see.

Kathleen Rouser said...

What an awesome day that must have been, Max. What
a privilege! Thanks for sharing with us.

max said...

I'd get into a problem over the rights. But at least I can enjoy watching it and remembering that day, James.

max said...

It was Kathleen. Thanks.

Teresa Slack said...

How exciting to spend a day with such an amazing and Godly man. I know it is a memory you'll always cherish.

max said...

Yes it is Teresa

Crystal Laine said...

I think there is a way to at least switch the VHS over to your computer or a DVD. For your own memorabilia?

Anyway, I agree with you that about him being one of the greatest leaders of our country. This was a really special opportunity--thanks so much for sharing it.

max said...

Yes, I plan to convert it to DVD for my use sometime.

Linda Glaz said...

An honor to have known him. Don't lose that video!

max said...

Not a chance, Linda.

Connie Arnold said...

What a wonderful experience for you to have and great memories. Thanks for sharing, Max.

max said...

Thank you also Connie

Rhonda Lane Phillips said...

Thank you for sharing a day in the life of one of greatest Presidents ever. I'm suffering from some envy! :)

max said...

Thank you Rhonda. The experience was something special.

Donna McDine said...


Thank you for sharing such special memories. Fascinating!

Best wishes,
Children’s Author
Write What Inspires You Blog
The Golden Pathway Story book Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website

max said...

Thanks for your thoughts Donna

Christopher Burcham said...

I was privileged to be in Dixon that day also--and attended the Reagan rally at the high school.

Do you know if it is possible to get any still photos of President Reagan that were taken that day? I've been trying to get some decent ones for the past 23 years now. (I know there used to be handsomely framed versions of some shots from that day hanging in the school offices at Dixon High--where I later did some substitute teaching; unfortunately, I've never been able to track any of these down.) :-(

Thanks for any help you may be able to offer!

Rev. Christopher E. Burcham
Winston-Salem, NC