President Barack Obama visited Bowling Green in Ohio today. This caused a BGSU graduate to lament on Twitter that she never got to see a President of the United States of America while she was a Falcon. I replied that I saw Ronald Reagan there in 1988 on the campaign trail for George HW Bush. Which got me thinking. I’ve seen four Presidents in person.
I saw Ronald Reagan at the Wood County Courthouse in the fall of 1988. I was a reporter with the Bowling Green Radio News and has a press pass. Great front and center view. I remember he was still very popular except with a few malcontents perennially protesting whatever. I was not nearly as conservative politically then as I am now but I still appreciated being that close to someone who was clearly an important historical figure.
I saw George HW Bush the same year, I think, at the Ohio Association of Broadcasters convention in Columbus. This was a small crowd and again I had a great view. I recall that I was included in a crowd reaction shot on the local news that night. I may have had a bad mustache. He was not nearly as charismatic as Reagan, but who is?
I saw George W Bush at a campaign stop at Lake Farmpark in Kirtland on 2004. It was a hot day. My son John was a toddler. Someday I hope he tells his grand-kids that he saw a President. You could just see a small little figure from where we stood. The crowd was up for a rally.
The only POTUS I’ve ever spoken to was Jimmy Carter. He is not my favorite, but my mother was a big fan. He was on a book tour and stopped at a Barnes & Noble in Mayfield Ohio. Since my mother was starting to get infirm, I offered to stand in line in order to get her book signed. I stood in a line for quite some time with people who were pleasant enough, but not being a big Jimmy Carter fan I had to stick to small talk.
Eventually I got to the front of the line and shook his hand because when you are face-to-face with a former President that is what you do. We exchanged courtesies and I was on my way. I was a little sad for my mom because she would have liked to meet him. When I met back up with her, she was grinning. She happened to sit in the coffee shop area adjacent to where the Secret Service had escorted him in. He stopped and said hello so she got her signed book and also met her favorite former President.
Even though I am just an average guy, I feel lucky to have been a witness to history.