One thing you should know about me is that I am a political junkie. I love politics. I love being around politicians. It is just something I love. I know there are those who do not share my love, and that's okay. Another thing you might know about me is that I have seen every President of the United States that has served during my lifetime, except for Kennedy. Everyone from Eisenhower through Trump. So, this story is about close encounters with two of them.
It was the 1976 campaign for President between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. I was living in Ft. Worth. Gerald Ford was visiting one Sunday morning at the First Baptist Church in Dallas. W. A. Criswell was the pastor, and that church was one of the largest in the country at that time. Ford wanted the endorsement of Dr. Criswell, so he came to that church for the worship service. I drove over from Ft. Worth to try and get a seat in the church, but I wasn't able to do that, so I stood outside near the limo to get a glimpse of the President. A few others did too, as well as some TV folks. The road next to the church was narrow, so the limo could fit into it, but not much else. Across the street from the church was the YMCA. I looked up and saw a window open on the front across from where we were standing. I called over a Secret Service agent and asked him if that window was supposed to be open. His eyes got big and radioed someone. A few minutes later, the window got closed. He came over to me and thanked me, and then said: "We don't want to lose another President in Dallas." The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I got goosebumps. After the service was over, the media went running out of the church to try and file their stories before the motorcade left. Ann Compton and Ed Bradley asked me where the nearest phone was. Even though I was not a member of that church, I knew where the church office was, so I steered them in that direction. Ann was nice. Ed--not so much. Ford came out and waved at us all. He seemed nice.
The other close encounter was Jimmy Carter. He visited the University Baptist Church in Ft. Worth on the Sunday before the election for President in November. The church was the one I attended, during my time in Ft. Worth. I was on the committee to welcome all of the visitors that would come for this event. We were to say to everyone "Welcome to University Baptist Church". The press bus pulled up, and the reporters started running toward the front door to get a picture of Carter and his wife arriving at the church. As they were running across the lawn, we were welcoming them to our church. They ran over the bushes in front of the church. It became kind of funny and surreal, as we welcomed them, and they were destroying property just for that shot. The Carters arrived, and we shouted our welcomes. They didn't acknowledge us. They just walked on into the church. I wasn't able to get a seat in there either, but I did get to see them. The next Tuesday, Carter was elected President. Did my welcoming committee have anything to do with the outcome of the election? I hope not.