The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is on top of a mountain in Simi Valley, California. The LA cops who beat Rodney King were tried for their crimes the first time in Simi Valley. He was a big guy and it took several officers to subdue him after a long car chase. He kept getting up after the Tasers took him down. An all white jury acquitted the cops, and riots broke out in LA; that was crazy.
I was there recently for a lawyers’ conference. The library building is big enough to hold the Air Force One the President flew in, a Boeing 707 airliner, and limousines with tinted windows. The museum gift shop was large and I went crazy in it.
I thought Reagan was crazy when I was in college. He said, “if you’ve seen one Redwood, you’ve seen them all.” I’ve seen some Redwoods and I’ve camped among the Avenue of the Giants Redwoods, they are very large trees; I wish I could see more Redwoods.
The gift shop had a bunch of Ronald Reagan stuff: Hollywood movie stuff, Governor of California stuff, President of the United States stuff, Nancy Reagan stuff, but what caught my eye was a display case with the Stetson cowboy hat he wore on his ranch. Specially made, Stetson said, for President Reagan. It was beautiful, I had to have one, and when the lady said they had my size I bought it even though it was way too expensive. The hat and box were too large to take on the plane as carry on, so I asked them to ship it home. All the way home I thought, Marianne is going to kill me for bringing home another cowboy hat.
I’ve worn a cowboy hat all my life and I own several, mostly Stetsons but a few Resistol straw hats, too, for the rodeo. When the hat arrived, I realized why I loved it so much. I own three Stetsons just like it already, including my every day hat.
So, Marianne and I were out shopping on a Saturday morning a couple of weeks later. We were looking for a new toilet and kitchen light for the condo, and she wanted a new clock. I told her I wanted a fry pan in between the small and large ones we own, so I can make omelets just right. The big one is too large for a two egg omelet, and she agreed my waistline doesn’t need another three egg omelet. She said I bet we can get what you want at the new Home Store.
On the way, we stopped in at Dick’s Restaurant Supply – it’s right down the street from the light store – and they had the right sized fry pan and we picked one up. Then we headed over to the Home Store to look for the new clock, and they had the fry pan I’d been looking for. Godamit. We bought it and agreed we’ll take the other one back. When we got home Marianne said, hey look at this, genius, we have a medium fry pan just like the two new ones we bought today.
Later that week, I went to visit my old Irish friend Mike Boylan. His is a complex story I don’t need to go into right now. There was gun play, a shooting, arrest, and county jail time before we bailed him out, it’s too much to discuss in polite company. Just know all the charges were dismissed after the psychiatrist concluded Mike was too crazy to stand trial. And although now he’s free, he lives in the memory care ward of a retirement place. With locks on the outside door and no escape, he’s not happy to be there; it is what it needs to be.
Mike was asleep when I came to his room. I sat in his chair and watched him snore. I was happy to see the storm in his head calmed while he rested peacefully.
After he woke we talked, and then he had to tell me, again, about the war. I’ve heard this story before. I don’t know if it’s true but I have no doubt he recalls it. Too many dead boys lying on the field of battle, I never want to see it again he said and began to cry; too much craziness, why does it have to be this way, he asked me? I don’t know Mike, it’s a crazy world. Let’s go get a cup of tea.
On the way home from my visit with Mike, I stopped in at the Half Priced book store. Zane Grey had caught me recently, starting with his first novel, Riders of the Purple Sage, and I have to read as many of his books as I can find. There were three Zane Grey novels on the shelf in the Western section, and I purchased all three. When I got home and showed off my new treasures, my daughter Anna said, “Dad, did you know you bought two of the same book?”
I may be going crazy. I believe I’ll ask Willie Nelson to write me a song.