Meeting the Gipper
by Dennis Whittington
When I was a young journalist, Ronald Reagan came to town as he campaigned for the 1976 presidential election. Standing on the town square in Lenoir, NC the sun was shining and I was pretty darn excited. I had managed to position myself close enough to the front be able to shout a question that afternoon, should the opportunity present itself. But, as luck would have it (or not) the Secret Service pushed us all back and yelling a question was not going to work.
I happened to look down and at my side was a little 7-year old boy waving our local paper. I took the newspaper from his hand and passed it to the Secret Service fellow who had pushed the crowd back and asked him to see if he could snag an autograph. To my surprise the Secret Service agent actually handed it to Ronald Reagan. Mr. Reagan singed the newspaper and handed it back to the Secret Service agent who handed it to me. I gave it back to the little fellow. While I didn’t get a chance to ask my question on the town square, I felt good that I had made some little guy happy.
Later that day, I did have the opportunity to board the Trailways bus — along with the other journalists in the pack, to ride to the next campaign stop. To my surprise, Mr. Reagan and the actor Jimmy Stewart boarded the same bus and were willing to be interviewed. It was at this point I had the chance to ask Mr. Reagan my questions. I also had a picture snapped with both he and Jimmy Stewart. That photo still means a lot to me as my son keeps that picture on his desk — some 40+ years later. As I reflect on that day, it reminds me that when we help someone else, we not only have the reward of making that person happy (in my case, the little boy), but we also can benefit from good karma.