Monday, February 9, 2009

Road Trip - The Reagan Apartment & Committed Volunteers

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.


Heidi said...

OH SUE!! I LOVE this little trip you are taking us on! History is my favorite subject, next to lunch of course.. LOL What an amazing job they are doing at that little hole in the wall - but the people must have loved him and that makes all the differance in the world I supose! I think the generation that is caring for it is also a reason that its continues to do well and look WONDERFUL! They are a commitited bunch!!!! Thanks again my dear!!!

Molly said...

As usual, I am enjoying your posts, but this time there's a bonus: The Farmer's Wife clearly shown in a photo. With a bag on her arm that is tres intriguing - wish I could see more. So I ask the question: is the Farmer's Wife a big bag person, or a smaller pocketbook person?

(Shoes and bags are my favorite fashion items).

Vee said...

That's the most interesting thing about raising two boys one in each take this one and I get the next I understand it.

The townspeople have done a wonderful job. I would get quite a thrill from being in the room where President Reagan was born as he is one of my faves, but then, you knew that.

Oh yes, I'll be back tomorrow to see the bank and perhaps another glimspe of the Farmer's Wife.

Jody Blue said...

Any chance you know Nellies favorite Bible passage? I googled it and it sent me to your blog! I am enjoying this so much, Thank YOU!

Anonymous said...

HI Suzanne. I'm glad I got out of bed to slide over here and go on this marvelous trip to Reagan's birthplace with you? It's wonderful! I'd love to go now. You are a great travel blogger, my dear! I'm still not 100% yet but hope to be soon.