Shaking Hands with Gerald Ford
The day was May 20, 1975 - I was finishing my first year of kindergarten with Mrs. Goldberg at the Charlotte Hebrew Academy and my father and I walked from our house down to Freedom Park in Charlotte, North Carolina to hear the President speak. Ford spoke at the bandshell, the same place I'd later hear the local Beatles-act the Spongetones and party with my junior high school friends. Afterwards my father rushed me down the center aisle, past the security guards, so that I could see the President. Ford gave me a big smile, reached out and shook my hand. Someone said to me "don't wash that hand, young fella!"
Since we always washed hands before we ate - for both religious and hygenic reasons - the comment seemed to me, little almost- six- year- old me, as being pretty stupid. And now I am happy that I did wash my hands. I pulled up Ford on the ol' Wikipedia today to see a color photo of the fromer President hamming it up with Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Ford was the one who boosted both men's careers, giving them both the power that they would eventually abuse. Thankfully, Bob Woodward recorded him expressing his regrets.
I'm sorry for his family, and all those who mourn him, but I'm glad that I washed that hand.