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April 24, 2012

"Just Keep Them Moving."

“Just Keep Them Moving…”


        “President and Mrs. Reagan Request The Pleasure of The Company of Mr. Richmond….”  

The fancy inscribed invitation was printed on heavy card stock, with raised lettering, and went on to describe the menu for the White House Luncheon, down to the California Sauvignon Blanc and petit fours.

East Room table setu.jpgOn the appointed day and hour, I joined about 150 other guests at the White House, for the annual Voluntary Action Awards luncheon.

In one corner of the East Room, where the event was held, was a reception line. We walked up to, were introduced to and shook the hands of Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush.  

Mrs. Reagan was still relatively young.  But I had a strange, negative reaction to her ice cold hand, bright red lipstick and heavy white pancake makeup.  This exHollywood actress and in photos very attractive woman – looked anorexic, almost unworldly – a pencil-then version of Yvonne De Carlo in The Munster’s TV series.  

Mrs. Bush was a dervish of gestures, a fro' of white hair ringing head like a halo.

We were seated at cramped tables of 8 in the East Room, and a U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard marched in The Colors.

The lunch was a formal affair.  I chatted with Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, sitting next to me, in his first Senate term  and loquacious over the unanticipated vagaries of constituent services.

Mrs. Reagan and Bush presented the Luncheon Awards. (No sign of their distinguished spouses.)

Afterwards, The First Lady and Mrs. Bush stood in the White House doorway, saying good bye and good day.  

I was a bit overwhelmed, as a Proud American, as we waited to file out into the bright Washington sunshine and afternoon.

A lovely, thoughtful goodbye – a closing touch, special ending to a special day.

The departure line had slackened as it neared the door.

Suddenly, Mrs. Bush could be heard rather loudly instructing a minion behind her: “Just keep them moving.”

Good thing The Gipper was not there...he'd a kept the line moving, but probably wouldnt have appreciated Barbara's push.

Mrs. Bush was never shy about calling 'em as she saw 'em.


April 22, 2012

Bang, Bang, I shot you down. Bang, Bang, you hit the ground.

Bang bang, I shot you down.  Bang bang, you hit the ground.


I checked out the custom mail box (see photo) and then dropped in the 10th Anniversary two-day celebration for Freedom Firearms, on s.w. Capital Avenue recently.

Balloons and costume characters near the street and parking lot, and a casual crowd of about 100 guests crammed into the front sales and fire arms display area, featuring hundreds of handguns. In the back were a classroom and soundproof firing range. 

Clerk told me Freedom Firearms --- right here in Cereal City -- is now nearly selling more guns than Smith and Wesson.

Why's that, I asked.

"Bang!, sales really took off three years ago when Obama was elected," he said. "People afraid Obama was gonna take our guns away."

Besides selling guns, the place is busy training people to use them, through a mandatory, near day-long class for licensing, that costs about $150.  "If you're gonna have a gun, you better learn how to use it," the clerk admonished.

You can rent time on the range to practice with your pistol.

About 20 Ubbermiddleaged men in black shirts with FREEDOM FIREARMS over their left pockets, sporting guns slung low from their hips like the Duke in Rio Bravo, were keeping the visitors and free hot dogs and potato salad lunchers under control.

 "Do all these guys WORK here?," I asked the clerk.

"Nah," he replied, "they just, like, hang out here a few hours a week. It's, like,  home to some of them." 

Guns are not just a macho thing no more, it turns out.  They're in half of all American homes today. 250,000 Americans are shot with handguns every year.

The clerk told me many customers are women, and "lots are old widow-types, living alone out in the country, and wanting a fair chance against a thief or rapist."

I looked around, trying to spot one of these old widow-types, thinking she'd make an interesting interview.  I'd of settled for an old widower. None were evident at the gun cases, sign-in table, or back where the food was being dished up. But there weren't special name badges for old widow-types, and I might have missed one.

Then, the country western music was turned down, and we all gathered around a huge gun case, as The-Men-In-Black presented a special, stainless steel, semiautomatic to the Freedom Firearms co-owners.  The crowd was parted to bring out a 10th Anniversary cake the size of the flight deck on a USS flattop. 

One of The-Men-In-Black -- with mushroom-pale skin, accusing gray-green eyes, and a pinched expression -- gave a near tear-eyed testimonial about what Freedom Firearms meant to him and his wife.

The coowners thanked folks for being there, and for helping the business get over the rough, (Before Obama) early years.

Guess many people in Calhoun County are flocking to buy Glocks these days...perhaps for solid, self defense reasons.

And if you're one, seems Freedom Firearms is a pretty good place to get one.

I skipped the hot dogs and potato salad, and headed to the door, thinking about guns in America, and what we used to say in the newsroom:

"If it bleeds, it leads."

I didnt feel much like celebrating.