Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Birthday! Former Mr. President!

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have."

"Government exists to create and preserve conditions in which people can translate their ideas into practical reality. In the best of times, much is lost in translation. But we try."

"We are bound together by the most powerful of all ties, our fervent love for freedom and Independence, which knows no homeland but the human heart."

All from Gerald R. Ford, 1913 - 2006

Ford was born on July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He found out when he was 12 that he was adopted by his father. He attended public schools. He attended the University of Michigan. He played on the school's football team and could have become a professional football player. Instead, he decided to go to law school and worked his way through Yale Law School. He received his degree in 1941 and was admitted to the bar.

Father: Leslie Lynch King - Wool merchant and biological father.. Gerald Rudolph Ford, Sr. - Businessman and adoptive father.
Mother: Dorothy Ayer Gardner Ford.
Siblings: Four half brother and two half sisters.
Wife: Elizabeth "Betty" Anne Bloomer - Dancer. She was an advocate of women's rights.
Children: Three sons - Michael Gerald, John Gardner, and Steven Meigs. One daughter - Susan Elizabeth.

Ford briefly practiced law before joining the navy to fight in World War II. In 1943, he was sent to sea on the USS Monterrey in the South Pacific. His ship took part in the recapture of the Philippines. He left the navy as a lieutenant commander in 1946. After the war he went back to practicing law. In 1949, Ford became a U.S. Representative. He was reelected twelve times until 1973 when he became the Vice President under Richard Nixon.

In 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned from office in order to avoid criminal charges for bribery. According to the 25Th Amendment when there was a vacancy in the vice presidency, the president would nominate and the Senate and House would confirm a new Vice President. Ford was chosen as a moderate. He took office on December 6, 1973. When Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, Ford became the first individual to be President who was not elected to either the presidency or the vice presidency.

One month after taking over the presidency, Ford pardoned Nixon. This caused a lot of controversy but Ford claimed he did it to save the nation from the prospect of a long, messy, and divisive trial. Ford only served a partial term in office. His pardoning of Nixon was the most controversial action of his presidency.

Ford escaped two assassination attempts, both by women. First on September 5, 1975, Lynette Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson, pointed a gun at him but did not fire. She was convicted of attempting to assassinate the president and sentenced to life in prison. The second attempt on Ford's life occurred on September 22, 1975 when Sara Jane Moore fired one shot that was deflected by a bystander. Moore was trying to prove herself to some radical friends with the assassination of the president. She was convicted of attempted assassination and sentenced to life in prison.

Fast and Fun Facts:

~ Ford once worked as a fashion model.

~ Ford is the only president who was employed by the National Park Service. He served as a Yellowstone park ranger in 1936.

~Ford turned down offers to play football for the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.

~ Gerald Ford attained the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest level in the Boy Scouts.

~Gerald Ford described himself as "a moderate on domestic issues, a Conservative in fiscal affairs, and a dyed-in-the-wool internationalist."

~In 1942, Ford, along with his girlfriend at that time, Phyllis Brown appeared on the cover of the National Magazine, Cosmopolitan!

I was 15 years old when Gerald Ford became president. I don't recall very much about it. At 15 I had a lot of other "important stuff" to think about.. Like music and boys and big Yank jeans..hanging posters on my walls , writing poems and sneaking a smoke... teenager stuff... We did talk about it at school but mainly from the point of view that Nixon was the very first President to ever resign and Ford was the first person to ever become President without ever running for the office... We weren't sure that was even legal.. we didn't see how it could be... Mama Mildred cussed at the TV and called them all criminal bastards and some other names that I'll just leave out of my blog... I remember hearing Daddy and Mr. Etheridge discussing the fact that President Nixon Said... " I am not a crook!" Daddy thought Nixon had done a lot of good for this country and we should wait and see.. Mr. Etheridge said.. " Just look at him David.. he's got that crooked jaw.. Mary Ellen had him pegged for a crook from the git go!" Mary Ellen being his lovely wife, who he always deferred to.. She also said we would go blind from watching color TV , but that's a different story. Anyway I guess Watergate and who was president didn't matter too much to me at that time. It was years later that I thought about what a mess this country was in when Ford took things over.. The President and his officers having just been caught .. The Vietnam war... I think he did the best he could with what he had been handed.. I know that at the time everyone thought that he was just another Nixon .. The whole country was furious when he pardoned Nixon.. Even Daddy said "Dad Boppit!" ( that was almost cussing for Daddy!) He didn't help matters too much when he gave leniency to the draft dodgers either... Allowing them to come home and do two years of public service instead of being charged.. But I wonder who could have done a better job? I wouldn't want the job of President.. Not then and not now.. I don't know for sure what the job pays.. But I still don't want it... There are regular men who I think could do the job and do a good job of it... They don't want the job either.. I guess it's a job better left to those who have a crooked Jaw..

When President Ford died he was remembered for his fundamental decency and his optimism about what our people can accomplish in the pursuit of ambitious goals, including the exploration of space. He was said to have served his country with tremendous dignity and energy. President Bush proclaimed
Tuesday,January 2, 2007, as a National Day of Mourning for President Ford.

I guess when all is said and done he had served his country well.. Even if he did something crooked and I'm not sure he did, he still did the best he could with what he was handed..

I guess most of life is like that.. some days you're the dog.. some days you're the bone!
Hopefully you'll have more days of being the top Dog and less days of being the bone! Have a great day!


PJ said...

i really didn't think that this was a post that i would like, to be honest with you. but i found it very informative. i had no idea about most of those facts. of course back then, i too, wasn't very interested in the political side of the world. thanks for posting this.

Pblacksaw said...

PJ~ thank you for reading me every day! honestly I never thought about the man till just before he died and I saw him on some late night show... I liked him.. He talked about the mess this country was in and he admitted that he could have made other choices but that he decided to end the scandal that was America right then... I wonder sometimes if we aren't becoming a scandal again?!
He knew that his choices would mean he wouldn't be re-elected but he chose to remove some of the shame from America and not air all our dirty secrets to the world... I wish I had that copy of Cosmopolitan..lol... YES I'd sell it!

Sunshine said...

I remember when President Ford was running for re-election. I think I was in about the 4th grade. I only liked him because the boy I had a crush on did...now I guess that is pretty silly. Thanks for all the history lessons. I always enjoy reading your blog.

Big Time said...

I was a fan of President Ford even though I was only about 10 when all that watergate stuff happened. He took over in troubled times and did what needed to be done at the time. He was a great President! Reuben