Friday, March 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Chiefs

Some do it when they are very young. Others only began to feel the compulsion as they reach the twilight of their days. But at one time or another everyone makes a list of the places they want to go and the things they want to do before they die. A recent movie made the term ‘bucket list’ popular, and it was an ok movie, so we’ll go with that phrase. Very near the top of my bucket list is a trip to our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

From what I’ve heard the ultimate tourist destination in D.C. is the White House. And surely the greatest thrill of seeing the White House is to have your picture made with the President of the United States. Now, never having been there I can’t really say, but I’m guessing he doesn’t have a photo booth in the hall outside the oval office where he is available for pictures at 10 bucks a pop. Perhaps he should. It might help with reducing the national debt. But I understand he’s a pretty busy guy, so I don’t see it happening any time soon. me a favor - tell me about the presidents you’ve seen, dated or had your picture taken with.

Being the leader of the strongest nation on earth, the President of the United States is arguably the most powerful man in the world… and there are a lot of people in this world – over six point eight billion at last count. So it would seem to be a pretty rare event to even catch a glimpse of the most powerful man in the world, much less have your picture taken with him.

But, as rare as such a glimpse may be, and having never been east of the Smokey Mountains, still I have had the opportunity to see not one, but two American Presidents with my own eyes. If you’ve seen three or more, please don’t rain on my parade. Well… I guess it’s ok if you cloud up and sprinkle a little.

First let me tell you about my two, and then do me a favor, and in the Comments box below, tell me about the presidents you’ve seen, dated or had your picture taken with. Remember to click the Post Comment button. Then everyone will get to enjoy your story too.

I was almost four years old in 1960, when Senator John Kennedy was running for president against Vice President Richard Nixon, and came to Oklahoma City for a campaign stop. My family was living in a little frame house on a busy street that happened to be on the motorcade route from the airport to his rally. We didn’t even have to leave the house. Dad stood at the screen door and waited. I stood behind him and peeked around.

And then we saw cops… and then that black convertible with that smiling politician waving to the crowd. Just as it passed our house dad opened the screen door, stuck his head out and yelled, “Go Nixon!” And John Kennedy turned and waived at dad and me! OK… maybe he wasn’t president at the time, but he did go on to win, so I’m counting it.

And then there was President Ronald Reagan, who came to Oklahoma in 1986 to campaign for the re-election of Senator Don Nickels. I was in the crowd when President Reagan referred to Senator Nickels as ‘Don Rickles’. Sources report that when Reagan was told about his slip up, he found it hilarious. But in 2004 at a party event, I mentioned my memory of it to Don Nickels’ wife, and was left with the impression that the Nickels household doesn’t see the humor in it. Go figure!

I’m not sure when I’ll make it to D.C. but I will. And when I do, I’ll do my best to get on the White House tour. And you can bet I’ll have an extra ten bucks in my pocket… just in case!

Now tell me your story.

Photos courtesy of


  1. I have never seen a president. Don't really care to see the one we have right now. I think I'll wait for a better one.

  2. I stood about 20 feet from Dan Quayle while he was VP. He visited OKC for some reason and our paths just happened to intersect just outside 101 Park Ave. I remember thinking it was really easy to get to within 20 feet of the VP.

  3. Reece, I saw Ronald Reagan, the same day you did. At the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman right? My Government instructor in high school loaded us all up on a bus and drove us down there. President Reagan wore a brown suit. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I also remember as the applause died down after he came to the podium, my instructor yelled at the top of his lungs, "Amend the Constitution! Four more years!"

    I didn't see George W Bush per se, I did see his motorcade going South on I-35 on his way back to Tinker after a fundraiser luncheon in far NE OKC in the summer of '08.