There's a sign in the front window of the Tampico Historical Museum. It's hand lettered and I love it.
I've been to the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois and I'll be the first to say that's it's magnificent. I'm sure the Reagan Presidential Library in California is equally impressive but there's something about this small town grassroots effort that appeals to me immensely.
The Reagan's lived in a second floor apartment above the bank. Here's a hand-painted sign in front of the entrance to the apartment.
I'ts a long climb to the second floor. This place is spotless. In the middle of winter shoes and boots track grime and road salt everywhere but these steps were so clean!
The apartment was spacious and so lovely. None of the furnishings are original but the people who put this together have done a wonderful job of filling the apartment with items that were typical of the time period. It's very strange to walk in and feel like you've stepped through a time machine.
Inside the front door was a stove and this is what would have heated the space.
In a corner of the dining room is a treadle sewing machine. Reagan's mother Nellie was a seamstress.
Just off the parlor is the small bedroom where Ronald Reagan was born. This is actually the children's room.
Our guide points out a bible in the living room, opened to Nellie Reagan's favorite passage from the Bible.
Her original Bible is in the Reagan Presidential Library and it was used both times he was sworn in as President. The Reagan's were a house divided when it came to religion. Neil Reagan (the President's brother) was raised as a Catholic, attending mass each Sunday at St. Mary's with his father Jack. Ronald attended the protestant church with his mother.
I loved the small buffet.
And also the Hoosier cupboard in the kitchen.
The cast iron woodburning stove is very familiar to me. My aunt cooked on one of these well into the 1960's. She could cook up a storm on that thing!
This apartment has a summer kitchen on the covered back porch.
See the open window? Nellie and her neighbor took turns watching each other's children. Instead of walking down the flight of stairs and back up another flight in the next building they would hand their children through the window.
Here's the Farmer's Wife reflected in the bedroom mirror.
One of the most surprising facts I learned is that although the Reagan's had electricity and a phone, they had no water or indoor plumbing. Can you imagine hauling water up those stairs?
Here's a photo of Nellie and her sons.
What I love most about this place is that it brings history alive and you realize that this was a real family. The same is true of the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois. The number of artifacts behind glass is minimal. The exhibits bring you into Lincoln's life and family.
Here's our knowledgeable tour guide, Bill Widolff. He encouraged us to come back during the regular season (April through October), promising us he'd give us the "long version" of the tour. If you plan to make the trip, Bill volunteers on Tuesdays.
Be sure to come back tomorrow because you must see the bank. They've restored it and it's so cool.