campaign. Sadly, that is not possible. The article runs a bit long, but it's worth every funny moment contained within. Enjoy!
Monday, June 7, 2004 - (CBS) "You've heard, I'm sure, that I like to tell an anecdote or two," Ronald Reagan once said. "Well, life not only begins at 40 but so does lumbago and the tendency to tell the same stories over and over again."
If Hollywood taught Mr. Reagan anything, it was the value of a good story - and a good punch line, reports CBS Evening News Anchor Dan Rather.
On Nov. 8, 1966, he was elected as California governor over incumbent Democrat Edmund G. "Pat" Brown.
"Jack Warner, of Warner Bros., I'd been under contract for a number of years, heard I was running for governor. I understand that he said, 'No, no. Jimmy Stewart for governor. Reagan for best friend."
He was sworn in as president on January 20, 1981.
"Howard Baker ... told me on the steps of the Capitol, at the time of the inaugural, 'Mr. President, I want you to know I will be with you through thick.' and I said, 'What about thin?' and he said, 'Welcome to Washington.'"
Washington had never seen anything quite like him: a one-time liberal Democrat turned Republican conservative who could disarm critics - even the press - with a sly comeback.
"Mr. President, in talking about the continuing recession tonight, you have blamed mistakes of the past and you've blamed the Congress. Does any of the blame belong to you?" asked ABC White House Correspondent Sam Donaldson.
"Yes, because for many years I was a Democrat," replied Mr. Reagan.
His wit rivaled that of his two idols, Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
"He liked a laugh, President Lincoln. He was criticized for it once and he said, 'If I couldn't laugh, I couldn't stand this job for 15 minutes.'"
Mr. Reagan clearly relished the job, missing no opportunity to joke about his colororite targets: communism, big government, high taxes.
"If the big spenders get their way, they'll charge everything on your Taxpayer's Express card, and believe me, they never leave home without it," he said, on one occasion.
"You know, not too long ago, I was asked to explain the difference between a small businessman and a big businessman. And my answer was that a big businessman is what a small businessman would be if only the government would get out of the way and leave him alone," he said on another.
His stories often had a horse-and-buggy feel to them: anecdotes about farmers, preachers, small-town America. But the payoff usually carried a political wallop.
"Former Congressman Prentiss Walker dropped in on a farm and introduced himself as a Republican candidate. And as he tells it, the farmer's eyes lit up, and then he said, 'Wait 'til I get my wife. We've never seen a Republican before.' And a few minutes later he was back with his wife, and they asked Prentiss if he wouldn't give them a speech.
"Well, he looked around for a kind of a podium, something to stand on, and then the only thing available was a pile of that stuff that the late Mrs. Truman said it had taken her 35 years to get Harry to call 'fertilizer.' So, he stepped up on that and made his speech.
And apparently he won them over. And they told him it was the first time they'd ever heard a Republican. And he says, 'That's okay. That's the first time I've ever given a speech from a Democratic platform.'"
His adversaries learned a hard lesson.
"Governor Reagan, again typically, is against such a proposal," said incumbent Jimmy Carter in a 1980 presidential debate.
"There you go again," replied the eventual winner of that race.
Mr. Reagan's way with words could be devastating.
"I will not make age an issue of this campaign," he said in a 1984 debate with challenger Walter Mondale, some 17 years younger. "I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."
Mr. Reagan exploited his own age to a fare-thee-well. He was nearly 70 when he became president, 78 when he left office, the oldest man ever to serve in the office.
"One of my favorite quotations about age comes from Thomas Jefferson. He said that we should never judge a president by his age, only by his work. And ever since he told me that, I've stopped worrying," he said once. "And just to show you how youthful I am, I intend to campaign in all 13 states."
"I've already lived about 20 years longer than my life expectancy at the time I was born," he also said. "That's a source of annoyance to a great many people."
He was born in 1911. And if his way with a joke came from anywhere, it came from his father Jack, an Irishman whose taste for strong drink was matched only by his talent for storytelling.
"So in the language of my forefathers," he said, switching to an Irish brogue, 'I'll have another drink of that fine Irish whiskey.'"
Mr. Reagan was a lifeguard who saved 77 people, by his own count. A handsome young man with a silken voice, he drifted into radio, then films. He played radio announcers in his first couple of movies, projecting a breezy affability audiences liked.
Years later, that likeability would serve him well in government, confounding many critics who'd written him off both as a politician - and an actor.
"I am so tired of reading something that one reporter or journalist once said about me and now it's automatically attached to me in most stories: 'Ronald Reagan, who never got the girl in the movies, when he was in pictures.' I always got the girl," he said.
His years at Warner Bros. got him something else: a quick sense of humor that carried him through countless blowups and breakdowns on the set. Take after take, he was perfecting the one thing crucial to both acting and politics: timing.
He then polished his delivery on live television, where there was no chance at a second take.
"There's an old story, from back in the days when we did those plays like General Electric Theater, live," he told late CBS News Correspondent Harry Reasoner in 1967. "This fellow forgot his lines, but to this day, nobody knows it. Because in the midst of doing his scene, when he came to the point where he forgot his lines," (Reagan mouthed words, silently). And what he was doing, of course, was just mouthing with no sound.
"And all over America, people were fiddling with their set, trying to find out what had happened with the sound on their set. When he suddenly remembered the line, it came back to him, he just added the voice to the lip movement and went on talking," the former actor said. "And I've been in a few press conferences where I've thought that could come in pretty handy."
As California governor from 1969 to 1976, he served during troubled times, and early on, there were a few rare public displays of temper.
"Wait a minute!" he said on one occasion, pounding his first on the podium. "C'mon! I didn't extract any agreement."
Confronted with anti-war marchers, campus demonstrators, hippies, his humor turned sarcastic.
"The last bunch of pickets were carrying signs that said 'Make love, not war,' he said of anti-war protesters. "The only trouble was they didn't look capable of doing either."
"His hair was cut like Tarzan, he acted like Jane and he smelled like Cheetah," he said of a hippy.
But eight years in Sacramento taught him the value of restraint, and running for president, he reverted to type: Mr. Nice Guy. And instead of downplaying his Hollywood background, he capitalized on it, often campaigning with legends like Jimmy Stewart, movie star and war hero.
"The master of ceremonies said: 'Brigadier General Jimmy Stewart.' when I got up, I said, 'You'll forgive me for correcting you, but it's Major General Jimmy Stewart,' Mr. Reagan related.
"And that night, we got back to the hotel, Jimmy said, (imitating Stewart) 'R-r-ron, that-that fellah was right, tonight. It is brigadier,' he said. 'I just never corrected you before because it s-s-sounded so good.'"
He could even turn the other cheek with the press.
"I was going to have an opening statement, but I decided that what I was going to say I wanted to get a lot of attention, so I'm going to wait and leak it," he joked at a presidential news conference.
He quickly gained a reputation as the Teflon President, to whom bad news did not stick. Even many of his harshest detractors found him charming. And the Reagan humor was often a hit with the press corps, too.
"Now I've been told that this is all off the record and that the cameras are all off, is that right?" he said once. "I was told that, because I've been waiting for years to do this, he said and put his thumbs in ears and wiggled his fingers.
Some of the criticism he drew - for supposedly being uninvolved, working banker's hours, dozing off in meetings - he turned to his advantage with yet more wisecracks.
"I know the long hours that many of you have put in. And I can only tell you that if I could manage it, I would schedule a cabinet meeting so that we could all go over and take a nap together," he said.
"I don't know of a place where prayer is more appropriate than in Washington, D.C.," he quipped, because in the Reagan joke book, the nation's capital was always good for a laugh.
"You don't have to spend much time in Washington to appreciate the prophetic vision of the man who designed all the streets there," he said. "They go in circles."
"What is needed is a sweeping, comprehensive reform, but certainly not like the proposed new tax form that was sent to me the other day," Mr. Reagan said. "It had two lines on it. The first line said, 'What did you make last year?' and the second line says, 'Send it in.'"
He succeeded in slowing the growth of government, driving home the point with an arsenal of jokes that pictured Washington as a place short on common sense and long on doubletalk.
"You know, a fellow comes in, stands in front of your desk, hands you a memorandum, and he stays and waits while you read it. And so you read: 'action-oriented orchestration, innovation, inputs generated by escalation of meaningful, indigenous decision-making dialog, focusing on multi-linked problem complexes, can maximize the vital thrust toward non-alienated and viable urban infra-structure,'" Mr. Reagan said. "I take a chance and say, 'Let's try busing.' and if he walks away, I know I guessed right."
Ronald Reagan also guessed right about communism, the "Evil Empire," as he called it. A bankrupt ideology, he insisted, on the wrong side of history. He kept up the pressure with tough diplomacy, increased defense spending - and ridicule.
"It is said that Castro was making a speech to a large assembly. And he was going on at great length and then a voice out in the crowd said, 'peanuts, popcorn, crackerjacks.' and he went on speaking and again the voice said, 'peanuts, popcorn, crackerjacks,'" Mr. Reagan said. "And about the fourth time this happened, he stopped in his regular speech and he said, "the next time," he said, "I'm going to find out who that is and kick him all the way to Miami.' And everybody in the crowd said, "peanuts, popcorn, crackerjacks.'"
And in 1987 in Berlin, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
He would live to see the walls come down all across the world, a process no doubt hastened along by his relentless mockery of communism as something both barbaric - and laughable.
"A commissar in the Soviet Union went out to one of those state collective farms, grabbed the first worker he came to and said, 'Comrade, how are the crops?'"
"'Oh,' he said, 'Comrade Commissar, if we could put the potatoes in one pile, they would reach the foot of God,'" Mr. Reagan continued, "and the commissar said, 'This is the Soviet Union. There is no God.' and he said, 'That's all right, there are no potatoes.'"
The literal-minded were forever troubled by his tendency to sometimes confuse life with the movies. But he understood, like very few leaders before or since, the power of myth and storytelling. In his films and his political life, Ronald Reagan stood at the intersection where dreams and reality meet, and with a wink and a one-liner, always held out hope for a happy ending.
"Some day when the team's up against it and the breaks are beatin' the boys, ask 'em to go in and win just one for the Gipper," Mr. Reagan said as George "The Gipper" Gip in 1940's "Knute Rockne: All American."
"Go out there and win one for the Gipper," he told a Republican National Convention. Comments
© MMIV CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Monday, June 7, 2004 - I have returned from a rather unusual (or perhaps usual for me) trip to Scottsdale for the funeral of Abe Chelette. I can tell you this - the things that happen to me sometimes could only happen to me!
Just before 8 AM on Saturday, I departed Tucson for the funeral in Scottsdale, expecting to arrive a bit ahead of 10 AM, which was to the start of the visitation period. I decided to look up the obituary before I left, which is shown near the bottom of the page.
The obituary is just as it was online, I didn't make it that short. Apparently, maybe I'm a dumbshit. Does it or does it not say, "Visitation is one hour prior. Messinger Indian School Mortuary?" Yeah, that's right - it DOES say that!
So I went to Messinger on Indian School and Miller Roads in Scottsdale. I went inside and asked the dipshit standing outside if this service was for Abe Chelette, and he said to go on in. So I did. I sat through about 20 minutes of the service.
A man dressed in some funky black outfit presided over the service and sang in some strange language (perhaps Arabic?). When a brown kid and his equally brown dad came up and tearfully started talking about grandpa this and grandpa that, and mentioning that grandpa came from Syria, I realized that Abe was not brown, not from Syria, and did not have a brown grandkid or an equally brown kid. I was in the wrong place at the right time.
So as not to disrupt the fond memories of this man that was really starting to sound like quite the hero and a really nice guy, I waited for the brown kid and his equally brown father to finish their speech. Luckily, I was sitting in the back row by myself. I quickly shot out of the room and again asked about the service for Abe Chelette. I was told, "Oh, he's not here, he's at the LDS Church in North Scottsdale." It was 10:40, with his service starting at 11 AM.
I drove like there was no tomorrow! I missed Abe's visitation, but got there just in time (right at 11 on the dot) for his funeral service. It was a nice service, but I couldn't help remembering the other man's service. I wish I could have met that other man, he really seemed like a nice guy.
Unlike at the Syrian man's funeral, I saw a few people I knew at Abe's funeral. I saw John Johnson, Tony Smith, Larry McKay, and even Joe Huddleston. There were several people (like his four ex-wives) that were noticeably not present. That's too bad, I would think if they married the guy, they'd at least be there for his funeral. In my opinion, they're all bitches!
I managed to get to be a pallbearer. I got to help load the casket at the Church and unload the casket and place it over the grave at the cemetery. He has a nice plot that is very easy to find at a cemetery at Shea Blvd. and 92 St. in Scottsdale.
Abe Chelette died on Sunday, May 30, 2004, at his 3500 square foot (about twice the size of my new house) cabin in Forest Lakes, AZ. He was at the cabin alone and apparently succumbed to a heart attack while watching TV with his dogs. Neighbors heard the dogs and came to check on Abe. He was dead and according to the neighbors was in peace. Abe was 60 years old at the time of his death. He is survived by his natural parents, the parents that actually raised him, and several brothers and sisters. Oh yeah, and the four ex-wives - bitches!
After all that mess was taken care of, then I get the breaking news from Mike O'Brien that my hero, Ronald Reagan, had also passed. What a shitty weekend. I hope next weekend is better. It should be. I'll be moving into my new house - FINALLY! Take care. Comments
Here's the obituary from The Arizona Republic, 6/5/04
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Abel Bufford Chelette Jr.
Abel Bufford Chelette Jr., 60, Forest Lakes, Arizona, passed away May 30, 2004. Funeral Service on Saturday, June 5, 2004 at 11:00 A.M., at the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, 9565 E. Larkspur Dr., Scottsdale, AZ 85260. Visitation is one hour prior. Messinger Indian School Mortuary.
Published in the Arizona Republic on 6/5/2004.
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Monday, May 10, 2004 - Well, well, well, here you are again. Just like I thought. I suppose you want to know what's going on in Tombstone, huh? Well, I'll tell you, not much.
This past weekend (May 8-9), however, there was quite a bit going on. I arrived there about 2 PM by myself. I got a room at Tombstone Motel and then headed out in the hills looking for adventure, which I found. It wasn't the usual mining excursion, but still mining related.
I went out to one of Tombstone's (formerly) largest and most impressive landmarks, the West Side head frame. This goliath wooden structure could be seen from many points in town, so it was easy to find! When I got there, I saw a crane attached to the top of the frame and men were working on dismantling the bottom of the frame built more than a century ago.
This was all as a result of the dipshits at the Tombstone "Development" Company (TDC) deciding to sell the land that this famous head frame and two small tin buildings were on. A man I know named Andree DeJournett, who is currently running for Mayor of Tombstone, has his own company, the Tombstone Consolidated Mining Company (a resurrection from the past), and was offered salvage rights to the land.
Given the opportunity, but not much time, the Tombstone Consolidated Mining Company, which I am proud to say I'm a volunteer for, went to work trying to relocate the head frame and the tin buildings. However, the Tombstone Development Company was only interested in one thing ... getting that head frame down ... by whatever means necessary.
Well, they succeeded in that, if nothing else in life. One very magnificent head frame was hurled into eternity as the result of carelessness on the part of the crane operators hired by the TDC, which in my opinion should stand for Tombstone Destruction Complete. Those fuckers! In the span of a moment, they ruined one of the foundations of this most important western town. I hope they all rot in hell!
No, I'm not kidding. I meant that. They can all go straight to hell, without passing GO, and without collecting $200. I hope they go straight to hell on a Huffy with no seat! Goddamned history rapists! I feel violated and so should you!
The weekend wasn't a total loss, though. We did manage to save the two tin buildings. Those will be relocated to another location and turned into a living history museum, albeit without the monstrous head frame that was intended to accompany them. Comments
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