Sunday, May 09, 2004

The difference a mother makes

You've probably never heard of Fulton, IL. It's right where US 30, (aka the Lincoln Highway) crosses the Mississippi River, across from Clinton, IA and 20-odd miles upriver from the Quad Cities.

Fulton is small, but it has character. Leave something in one place long enough and it'll wind up with a tulip on it, because Fulton is about as Dutch as it gets on this side of the Atlantic. Since 1974 they've been celebrating Dutch Days in early May.

But arguably the most famous "Dutch" from Fulton wasn't Dutch at all. It was Jack "Dutch" Reagan and his wife Nelle, the parents of Ronald Reagan.

Jack Reagan had problems with alcohol and moved the family many times as he attempted to make a living. As noted here, it was mother Nelle who made Ronald Reagan the man he would become, even down to the elocution lessons which served him well later as a broadcaster, actor and public speaker.

Nelle Reagan died senile in 1962. What a shame - she may never have known that her son had become governor of California, much less popular successful two-term President of the US.

The article about her closes with "Mothers, take heart. Yours is a tough business; the deck is stacked against you. Nelle Reagan, too, faced trials. Yet, she persevered—and left a mark on history."

My mother faced some trials of her own. Thanks Mom. I'll never be President, but I'll always be a better man than I would have been without you.

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