Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LIV­ING - Tony Leodora Colum­nist

I am a very sched­uled per­son. By ne­ces­sity.

In or­der to run a multi-faceted busi­ness, vol­un­teer with a num­ber of or­ga­ni­za­tions and have any sem­blance of a so­cial life, it is nec­es­sary to keep a de­tailed and or­ga­nized sched­ule.

My one friend, who is the most un­sched­uled per­son I know, con­stantly chides me by say­ing, “He’s got every sec­ond of every day sched­uled. If you want to see him you have to pick an hour a month in ad­vance.”

Even va­ca­tions are sched­uled. No room to leave any­thing to chance. It is not the most ideal of sit­u­a­tions … but I guess it is the path I have cho­sen.

How­ever that doesn’t mean, when an op­por­tu­nity presents it­self, I can’t im­pro­vise. Case in point: my re­cent work­ing va­ca­tion to the Mid­west.

The trip was de­signed around three main points:

1) Go to the Notre DameMichi­gan State foot­ball game, the 50th an­niver­sary of the his­toric and con­tro­ver­sial 10-10 tie in 1966. It has been called the great­est col­lege foot­ball game ever.

2) Take in a Cubs game at Wrigley Field

3) Add five more states to my wife’s quest to visit all 50 states – bring­ing her to­tal to 41.

Pack­ing all of this into six days, in­clud­ing travel, took a lot of plan­ning. And left lit­tle time for ex­tem­po­ra­ne­ous ac­tiv­ity.

After spend­ing a night in Clin­ton, Iowa – and en­joy­ing a won­der­ful din­ner out­side on the deck of the Can­dle­light Inn, over­look­ing the Mis­sis­sippi River – we were headed to our next stop. The des­ti­na­tion was Lake Geneva, Wis­con­sin.

Driv­ing through miles of corn fields, we sud­denly saw the sign: “Ron­ald Rea­gan’s birth­place.”

How many peo­ple can say they vis­ited Clin­ton and Rea­gan in the same day?

Sched­ule be damned. It was time for a de­tour. Judged by his ac­com­plish­ments while in of­fice, Rea­gan was the great­est pres­i­dent of my life­time and a live his­tory ses­sion was well-worth­while.

And I learned an im­por­tant les­son: Some­times the un­sched­uled things in life are the best.

Tampico, Illi­nois is a tiny break in the seem­ingly end­less corn fields. Pop­u­la­tion 800 – although we were in­formed there are prob­a­bly less than that to­tal still liv­ing in the town. The small steel mill closed. The An­chor Hock­ing glass­ware fac­tory closed. Jobs are scarce.

In the mid­dle of a one-block row of homes stands a build­ing ded­i­cated to the birth of Ron­ald Rea­gan. The event took place on Fe­bru­ary 6, 1911.

Jack and Nelle Rea­gan rented an apart­ment on top of a bak­ery, later to be­come the First Na­tional Bank. The build­ing was do­nated to the Tampico His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and was re­stored to its orig­i­nal sta­tus. Next door is a mu­seum and gift shop ded­i­cated to Pres­i­dent Rea­gan.

In­side the shop we were greeted by Ruth Brininger, a typ­i­cally pleas­ant and proper Mid­west­erner who vol­un­teers at the site. She serves as a tour guide, as well as the store clerk. She ad­mit­ted that the days in Tampico are not very busy.

In this set­ting, our ed­u­ca­tion in the early life of Rea­gan be­gan – a fab­u­lous step back in time.

We saw the room in which he was born. We were told it was “a long and dif­fi­cult birth.” Mo­ments after the birth his fa­ther gave him his life­long nick­name, Dutch. We saw the other rooms of the apart­ment, com­plete with an­tique fur­nish­ings.

We walked through the bank be­low, re­stored au­then­ti­cally with the wooden teller cages and mas­sive vault that had been kept safely in the base­ment.

We heard the sto­ries about Rea­gan’s trips back to Tampico. Our tour guide proudly an­nounced that she had met him

a num­ber of times. She also ad­mit­ted that she was a life­long Demo­crat and had not voted for Rea­gan.

Asked why a Demo­crat would be a vol­un­teer in a mu­seum ded­i­cated to Rea­gan, she said sim­ply, “be­cause I liked Ron­ald Rea­gan very much.”

We saw a hand-writ­ten sign in the shop from John Liebel, a Hun­gar­ian-Amer­i­can who felt com­pelled to pro­claim to Rea­gan, “You are the great­est pres­i­dent the world has ever seen. You had freed our coun­try, Hun­gary, from left­ist freeload­ing bar­bar­ians. Your name alone will strike fear into com­mu­nism. God bless you and your

fam­ily. Sin­cerely, an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen.”

We saw a small li­brary of the many books about Rea­gan. My wife no­ticed that the lat­est book – “Killing Rea­gan,” which was co-au­thored by tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tor Bill O’Reilly – was miss­ing. She asked our tour guide if she ever read it. When she replied she had not, my wife promised to send our copy of the book to her – to be read and then added to the li­brary.

We thanked our guide for her hos­pi­tal­ity, made some pur­chases, gave a do­na­tion … then ended our 90-minute visit.

After walk­ing out the door, we saw the brass plaque on the door­way be­side the stairs that led to the up­stairs apart­ment. In­scribed was a quote from Rea­gan:

“What­ever else his­tory may say about me when I am gone, I hope

it will record that I ap­pealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your con­fi­dence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with lib­erty’s lamp guid­ing your steps and op­por­tu­nity’s arm steady­ing your way.”

Fit­ting words from the man known as The Great Com­mu­ni­ca­tor. My only wish is that those words could be read … over and over … every day … by Amer­ica’s fu­ture lead­ers.

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