I've been watching some of the coverage of former president Gerald Ford's funeral and reflecting back on my own childhood experiences with the Fords.
In my tween years, my parents spent a week each summer in picturesque Vail, Colorado. Back then, during the off-season, it was still an affordable destination for a middle-class family.
We always stayed at a hotel in town, usually during the Jerry Ford Invitational Golf Tournament. It was a celebrity-studded event, and in that small town, I happened to meet Dinah Shore, watch my mama nearly swoon over Clint Eastwood, and try on sunglasses one afternoon with Betty Ford. I also remember playing with the Fords' dogs and at least once meeting the former president.
Under the heading of "small world," Gerald Ford and I also both studied at The Univeristy of Michigan. He earned his undergraduate degree there and played football. I'm a graduate of the law school.
As a tween, I didn't know them, Betty and Gerald Ford. Those were chance meetings. But I do recall that they were geniuinely kind to me, friendly and gracious.
You can find out more about Gerald Ford via Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1998). Learn more about picture book biographies at Anneographies.