Monday, April 16, 2007

The President is Coming to Town

Wow! This will be important news for residents of our town, Tipp City, Ohio, a community of 9000 plus people, 15 miles or so north of Dayton. For once our little burg will have the spotlight on it. George Bush will be speaking at Tippecanoe High School on Thursday, April 19. What excitement for the students who will get to see him. They can brag to their children about it.

I saw two presidents in my lifetime, Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. When I was ten years old, we were visiting Gettysburg battlefield nestled in the countryside of Pennsylvania. As we were driving out of the park, a small motorcade, car, drove by. It was a black Cadillac limo and seated in the backseat was Ike. He and his wife had a working farm in Gettysburg, right next to the park. He was an avid golfer and had on his golfing clothes, complete with hat.

My family saw President Kennedy at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, in 1962. My father was a civilian working at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and was sent to Otis Air Force Base for his work. We had good friends stationed there and our family stayed with them. President Kennedy's usual weekend routine was to fly to Otis on Friday, helicopter to his family compound at Hyannis, and reverse that on Monday mornings to return to Washington. Many residents on the base would flock to the airfield to await his arrival. We joined the mini-throng one Monday while we were there and sure enough, out from the helicopter descended John Kennedy. We were probably 150 feet from him but I had my handy camera at the ready and took a few pictures. I was eager to get home and develop the negatives and make the prints in our home darkroom. My dad patiently had taught me how to do the procedures and it was great to watch the image of JFK appear on the photo paper. My camera was not very good and the picture is so grainy that you can't make out his face. However, the posture is definitely Kennedy's. What a thrill.

I hope children of my hometown get as big a thrill out of seeing our current president as I did so long ago. Of course, any photos they take will be nearly instantly available for viewing on home computers or printed out quickly at CVS or Walmart. No chemicals, no careful procedures, no thrill of seeing the image gradually develop in the solution. Digital photography is great, don't get me wrong, but the magic of film is indescribable.

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