Skip to main content

At around 1944,  during my teen years, my parents moved  into an erzats "Spanish" house in West Hollywood. It was located at 1200 N. Doheny Drive, and sat more or less part way towards the bottom of a low, typical Southern California hill.  The backyard of the house moved up-slope and ended at a short chain-link fence.  Beyond the fence the hill moved sharply upward and was covered with the ubiquitous succulent "ice plant" much favored by local developers who planted it in extravagant quantities in order to quickly hide the scars of their brutal gouging and flattening.  There was a pad at the top of the rise, and a typical ranch house, swimming pool and all.  Living in that house were Ronnie Reagan, his then wife Jane Wyman, and their kids. All very "Leave it to Beaver."

And one day...

We used to go to school on the terrible LA public transportation system, much supplemented by hitching rides from friendly (sometimes too friendly) motorists.  This was particularly true when we were staggering home after a long day, and had to climb up a windy road to the house.  We would frequently hitch rides up the hill, and Ronnie frequently obliged.

He wore an officer's uniform of some kind, Army or Air Force I don't recall, but his duty consisted solely of going to the MGM studios in Culver City to make propaganda films for the war effort.  He frequently complained that he had to go all the way to Culver City when, since he was still under contract to Warner Brothers, he could have gone the shorter distance--and along a pleasanter route, with no "poor neighborhoods" to go through-- to the WB lot. But he was ordered to Metro. He really had a tough war.

There were a lot of Hollywood types who made similar complaints, just as there were a lot of them who actually went to war. This isn't the point of the story, however.

Our house was a two-story imitation of some builder's hallucination of a hacienda.  My room was downstairs, by the driveway where I could make easy escapes from the familial atmosphere which my teenage angst sometimes found intolerable.

One weekend afternoon I was in that room struggling with homework due the next Monday. My younger sister was out in the yard playing with a young collie puppy she had gotten for her birthday some weeks before.  I then heard her go inside, leaving the puppy out.  Not unusually, especially after a Saturday night out with pals, I dozed off, my head cluncked down on my geometry text. A commotion outside woke me up.

There was a great of shouting and screaming outside in the back yard.  I couldn't imagine what it was and I went out.  I saw a kind of rhumba line being led by the puppy happily romping about, followed by Ronnie who, with a 6' long 2"x4", was taking great swipes at the puppy's head, followed by my sister sobbing and shouting at Ronnie to stop, followed by my father who was trying to get everyone to stop the infernal dance.  The puppy had apparently gotten under the fence and had been cavorting around Ronnie's ice plant, doing about as much damage as a 2 MPH breeze could do to the hardy plant.

Regan's mighty swipes, however, were churning the plant up in great clumps of earth and greenery. Had the puppy not been quicker and more agile than Ronnie, its head would have been exploded by the viciously swinging timber which the enraged Reagan was wielding. The aw, shucks facade of the public figure were gone, replaced by a sweating, enraged, snarling, out of control destroyer of any young puppies who had dared tread on the field of his ice plants.

Finally my father got him to stop and quiet down while my sister retrieved the puppy and took the dog quickly inside. My father made offers of payment for any damage done, though Reagan's go for the fences swings were responsible for all of it and ice plant in Southern California is a commodity you can hardly give away. Ronnie's last snarl was that he would send a bill.

I don't know if he ever did.  But as his public persona became more and more public, and he became more and more political, at no time did his little shit-eating grin and the seemingly naive cocking of the head fool me for a moment.  I had seen the real Reagan:  nasty, violent, unthinking,  capable of great harm.   Indeed, harm which poisons our body politic to this day.

Originally posted to mitcho on Sat Feb 05, 2011 at 02:40 PM PST.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

fly, claude, Ed in Montana, Angie in WA State, ljb, zane, PrahaPartizan, hannah, thinkdouble, copymark, Marie, laurak, Trendar, RonV, asimbagirl, wytcld, Bob Love, tommurphy, Shockwave, byteb, Wintermute, SanJoseLady, Goobergunch, baffled, ericy, Troutfishing, eeff, jeremybloom, Pompatus, devtob, Eternal Hope, dpc, Scott in NAZ, JohnInWestland, sponson, wonkydonkey, magnetics, mint julep, Cassandra77, annrose, OCD, Baldwiny, DaleA, CoolOnion, bluesteel, CalvinV, Minerva, Geonomist, Ignacio Magaloni, jalbert, Menocchio, Cedwyn, arreay, wader, Redfire, Getreal1246, danthrax, jzso, MA Liberal, dmsmith, ccr4nine, jsquared, churchylafemme, NYFM, flatford39, hoof32, nika7k, betson08, Greg in TN, rlharry, Timbuk3, Pohjola, Bluebirder, Dave925, walkshills, Oaktown Girl, Noisy Democrat, ybruti, Sembtex, side pocket, Kitsap River, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, lyvwyr101, Josiah Bartlett, Sybil Liberty, Armand451, Frank Vyan Walton, schroeder, sawgrass727, Julie Gulden, Big Tex, nailbender, davidincleveland, historys mysteries, Bluesee, Simian, Tinfoil Hat, Ckntfld, liberalcheesehead, sap, offred, betterdonkeys, gmoke, ChemBob, Dobber, Kevskos, boofdah, PSzymeczek, SaraBeth, Sun Tzu, Dem Beans, bjhunt, Jaime Frontero, jimreyn, GreyHawk, markdd, PinHole, SBandini, Tunk, petestern, chrisc, coolbreeze, stillrockin, bunsk, Ekaterin, Arsenic, Snud, fhcec, Jim P, trashablanca, snazzzybird, stef, bee tzu, emeraldmaiden, Dvalkure, KenBee, arlene, Lurky Lu, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, erratic, Lashe, need pr, gatorcog, Bush Bites, taraka das, paul2port, Derfel, caraleescockers, llbear, Turbonerd, va dare, Stripe, postmodernista, Nulwee, AntKat, ammasdarling, BeninSC, ksp, Dartagnan, gloriana, Outrider, edsbrooklyn, FishOutofWater, rgjdmls, dww44, eOz, World Patriot, crose, millwood, jhop7, yella dawg, JML9999, jwinIL14, JeffW, ScottyUrb, Youffraita, dadadata, OutCarolineStreet, treesrock, Sharon Wraight, VL Baker, Greyhound, moose67, Calamity Jean, Lujane, hwmnbn, Tam in CA, mofembot, sewaneepat, luckylizard, nzanne, girlsanger, DixieDishrag, pelagicray, tethys, DavidW, protectspice, shortgirl, LaFeminista, 207wickedgood, Rhysling, dhshoops, DontTaseMeBro, wtxdem, ARS, greengemini, banjolele, janmtairy, Daily Activist, Keith Pickering, histOries Marko, ratmach, Former Chicagoan Now Angeleno, rosecar, confitesprit, FogCityJohn, OldPhart, SeattleTammy, Proud Mom and Grandma, wvmom, freeport beach PA, lasermoth, Eddie L, pixxer, Betty Pinson, MsGrin, Otteray Scribe, nosleep4u, not4morewars, Berliner2, Joe Hills Ghost, View From The Hill, MidwestTreeHugger, agrenadier, Matthew D Jones, croyal, anyname, Sand Hill Crane, Teiresias70, princesspat, Greek Goddess, molunkusmol, grannysally, marigold, BarackStarObama, fbw805, whoknu, corvaire, Keori, chira2, hpchicago, JacksonStreet Dan, Marihilda, lincoln deschain, weinerschnauzer, RLMiller, Dom9000, Only Needs a Beat, FireBird1, foucaultspendulum, Susan G in MN, oldcrow, tritone, AreDeutz, hann1bal, Tyler R, cuphalffull

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site