In October of 1984, billboards in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan showed President Reagan throwing a playful punch at the jaw of Muhammad Ali while Joe Frazier and Floyd Patterson look on. The words ”We’re voting for the man” accompanied the picture. The three former heavyweight champions had all endorsed the Republican Presidential ticket.
I bought a postcard with this image when we visited the Regan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. Bush, Regan’s VP, was president at the time. It was around Christmas time and we were on a family vacation, doing the Grand Tour of California relatives. We had spent Christmas with my folks in Monterey, or maybe it was Carmel. I’m a little fuzzy about the year. Anne and I had the Boyz of Noize in tow. After Christmas, we headed south, first to LA and then on to San Diego. In LA we stayed with Anne’s paternal uncle and aunt, Lou and Pearl. Last year, we did another Grand Tour of California and were able to reconnect with them again.
Way back then, we stayed the night with Lou and Pearl and then the next morning Lou took us to the Reagan Library. The library is atop a hill. Its center has a circular floor plan. We walk into the large central hall, Lou looks around and then announces in a loud voice, “I didn’t like him as governor and I still don’t like him now!” I was ready to hide under a rock, but no one else took any notice. Later on, on our way out-of-town, we passed the highway signs for the Nixon Presidential Library in San Clemente. Anne jokingly asked if we should stop. I said no, one Republican president was enough for our still young and impressionable sons.
In 1987, Miles Davis was invited to a White House dinner by Ronald Reagan. Few of the other guests appeared to know who he was. During dinner, Nancy Reagan turned to him and asked what he’d done with his life to merit an invitation. Straight-faced, Davis replied: “Well, I’ve changed the course of music five or six times. What have you done except sleep with the president?”