Weekly musings on the arts and current events.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Ninety nine years ago today, two boys were born a few miles apart in Illinois. One grew up to be an actor, a governor, and the 40th President of the United States. The other, my father, worked for the Roosevelt administration during the depression and World War II and then became a retailer in Chicago.

I am not a believer in Astrology, and I don't know whether either man fits the profile of an Aquarian. However, I have long been struck by the many personal similarities between them.

Both were handsome, athletic, and tall: six feet one, a great height for their day. Both were good story tellers with gentle, resonant voices that drew in audiences, only rarely resorting to bombast. While neither was a great reader, both trafficked in ideas.

They were humble men, never accused of arrogance. They maintained civil tongues and did not use epithets. They took no delight in deriding their adversaries.

Both were faithful husbands, albeit Reagan was once divorced. Both inspired intense friendship and loyalty among their assoicates. And yet, they were distant and ultimately unknowable. Both were islands.

My father did not live to witness the Reagan presidency. Although he became more conservative in his later years, I doubt that he would have approved. And certainly he would have questioned Reagan's qualifications. He maintained a lifelong interest in public affairs and an admiration for thoughtful, well informed, and diligent leaders. In this regard, Ronald Reagan and Alexander Lavin were not alike: my father's standards were higher.

Ganymede by Bertel Thorvaldsen; marble, 1817. Aquarius, an air sign, is represented by this mythological libation bearer. Click on the picture for a closer look.


DUTA said...

Great posting to honor you father!
How beautifully you painted him!
He'll sure be pleased up there to learn about this lovely ,touching tribute .

As for Mr. Reagen, he's my favorite american President. I liked him for his political sexappeal, his acting qualities, his love&respect for his wife Nancy.(I'm pretty sure your father would have liked him too).

May the souls of these two Aquarians rest in Peace!

Paula Slade said...

Thanks for sharing such a personal and beautiful glimpse into your family.