Sunday, July 10, 2011


"My Father at 100, a Memoir" by Ron Reagan Viking 228 pages $25.95

Reagan writes that his father loved being on stage, the cheering crowds, the public speeches, but was intensely private at home. He writes that his father would listen to a family member, respond and then vanish, back behind the shutters of his private world.

He wrote that he was the heart and soul of affability, but that he had almost no close friends in later life. I think that's fairly easy to figure out -- his peers were his age and he lived to be 93.

He was athletic and loved to ride horseback and swim, activities he willingly shared with his children.

Reagan goes on at length, describing how non-confrontational his father was, how he swallowed anger and avoided "discussions." Nancy Reagan in a Vanity Fair interview stated that "Ronnie never really got mad at me." What neither of them relates is a Secret Service agent's recounting of a time at the ranch when Reagan wanted Nancy to come riding with him and she preferred making phone calls to her girlfriends. Reagan waited patiently for awhile, then came charging into the house and ripped the phone right out of the wall. The agent said that it was hard to get another one up there quickly due to the isolation of the ranch.

In 2010, Ron, Jr. because curious about his Reagan grandparents and went exploring Tampico, Dixon, Rock River, the small towns in Illinois that his predecessors had inhabited.

He paints an unsurprising portrait of a man many of us felt we knew. Ronald Reagan was the same straight shooter in old age that he had been as a teenager.

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