Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Walking down Memory Lane with the Gipper, Amelia, and Abe

I ran into President Reagan the other day. He was chatting with Alexander Graham Bell and a little New Zealand native known, in her spy days for the French, as the White Mouse. Real name: Nancy Wake.

Amelia Earhart (found!) was in the room next door to Orville Wright but, as far as I could tell, she had not thanked Mr. Wright for giving her wings.

Also on hand were a couple of Coco Chanels, a Jane Goodall, Jackie Robinson, and two Abe Lincolns, one shaved, one hirsute.

I am not making this up. But the boys and girls in upper classes at the Mill Falls Charter School in Manchester did an excellent job with their makeup and their research on these and other historical figures. It was for their Living Wax Museum presentation, an annual event at the school that Ike, Mike, and Spike all attend.

Ike was Mr. Reagan. He had one of his 1980 campaign posters with him. It read, “Make America Great Again.” Hmmmm.

I told Ike that his mother, as a toddler, had actually been picked up by the real Ronald Reagan when he campaigned in Candia that year and stopped at my mother’s house.

The little Missy, as she was then known, promptly planted a kiss on the President-to-be. He laughed and said, “That’s a switch. Usually it’s the politician who kisses the baby!”

Memories are fun. The kids at school were making them for themselves and their parents last week. I was, I hope, sparking a few memories for residents of the Merrimack County Nursing Home where I had gone to talk about my Cog Railway book.

The crowd was attentive and seemed to enjoy the talk. They clearly knew a lot about New Hampshire and history, throwing in references to Sherman Adams and John Sununu and Profile Lake along the way.

But one lady, who had applauded when I came into the room, leaned over to another resident when I was about 30 minutes into my remarks.

“Is he almost done?” she asked in what a friend of mine calls an “Irish whisper.”

I wasn’t. But I took the hint. Memories.

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