Archive for the ‘Ronald Reagan’ Tag

Moving The President   1 comment

President George W Bush's motorcade, 2005. Photo Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette, as shown on Wikipedia.

President George W Bush’s motorcade, 2005. Photo Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette, as shown on Wikipedia.

It was the biggest show in town.

I was working for Radio & Records, officed on the 5th floor of a 5-floor building at 1930 Century Park West in Century City, LA. We happened to be across the street from a generally empty parking lot … that was right behind the Century Plaza Hotel.

Which is where the President stayed.

The year was 1987. When President Reagan came to LA, he stayed at the Century Plaza. It was getting there that was the problem.

Because my building overlooked the parking lot, the Secret Service would search our entire office. They would look under every desk. Open every door. When the show was about to start, there would be snipers and spotters on the roof of every surrounding building, all there to protect the President.

Traffic was blocked off on all of the streets surrounding the parking lot, of course, meaning even more policemen were standing around, waiting on the show.

President Reagan would fly into LAX, and then take a helicopter (well, 3 helicopters) to the parking lot that my office overlooked. The 3 helicopters flew in a random formation, and then all landed in the parking lot. Reagan’s helicopter (“Marine One”) would magically land in the front position, so President Reagan could descend the little stair case to the parking lot, wave at the press corps behind the rope (he never heard their questions because of the helicopter noise, which was a running joke during his Presidency), and walk 5 steps to get into his car.

5 steps.

His motorcade always had multiple motorcycle cops in front, police cars, the limo, multiple black Suburbans, more police cars, and more motorcycle cops. Then, the motorcade would leave the parking lot, turn right, and move one block, turn right, and park behind the hotel. The total drive was 1-1/2 blocks and would take approximately 30 seconds.

It took about 200 people to get that done.

That’s what it took to move the President about 500 yards. Every time he came to LA.


New York Times: Who Made That Motorcade?

NBC Washington: The Presidential Motorcade, Explained

Telstar: Anatomy Of A Presidential Motorcade

Wikipedia: Presidential State Car

Irving Berlin’s Gift   Leave a comment

Irving BerlinThe song was written in 1918, and then set aside.  Berlin thought it was “not appropriate” for the project he was working on.

It sat on a shelf for 20 years.

In 1938, Berlin wanted to find a song that properly expressed the peaceful sentiments that he felt America needed to hear.  Kate Smith, who was perhaps the most popular American singer of her day, wanted a new song … and after trying to write  a new one, Berlin remembered the song from 20 years ago.  He asked his assistant to get it out of a trunk.

He tweaked a few lines, and it was the closing number on Smith’s radio show on November 10, 1938.  It was an instant sensation, and Smith continued to sing it every week on her show.  It was read into the Congressional record.  There was a movement to make it our new national anthem … that Smith discouraged.  But the popularity of the song was immense, and Smith continued to sing it.

The song was “God Bless America.”

Irving Berlin donated all his royalties, in perpetuity, to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.  He especially wanted those royalties to go to the areas in greatest need, and the money has gone to the New York Area Councils recently.

In the 70s, the song achieved a new level of popularity … as a hockey anthem.  The Philadelphia Flyers adopted it as a good luck charm, and played it before many games … on their march to the Stanley Cup.  They repeated that feat — along with a live performance by Smith — when they won the 1975 Stanley Cup. That was great for hockey, and great for Scouting.

Here’s a clip that recreates the national premiere of the song on Kate Smith’s # 1 nationally radio show.  This dramatization was a part of “The is the Army,” a 1943 movie starring Ronald Reagan!


On Kate Smith‘s website

New York Times

Los Angeles Times