Sunday, August 17, 2008

Too Busy to Blog

Wow! We've been going at a break-neck pace the last few days. The Porters could run a press tour any day. Day before yesterday we toured the Reagan Presidential Museum -- the most magnificent setting overlooking a wide valley. We didn't do the exhibits justice (just like a press tour!) -- it would have taken a much longer visit to really examine and absorb all the information there. My favorite exhibit was on the diaries President Reagan kept during his two terms. That such a busy person could take time to write every day impressed me. After the assassination attempt, his entry read, "Getting shot hurts." Lin loved the plane -- Air Force One. Jack loved the jelly beans on his desk.
The next day -- yesterday -- we visited the Getty Villa at Malibu. This was the original Getty Museum, a copy of the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneaum (destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.) When the new Getty was built, a lot of the art was moved there and the Villa was reserved for ancient art. I've never seen such a fine collection of Greek pottery -- but my favorite thing was a room made of over a dozen kinds of marble. The floor patterns throughout the villa were gorgeous. And the gardens were exquisite. Lin and I spent a lot more time than the guys -- but they found a shady spot and sat until we were ready to leave. What good sports!
Today, after church, we went to Pacific Palisades to the Will Rogers State Historic Park. This is where Will, Betty and their children lived from 1927 until his death in 1935 and Betty's in 1944.
They originally had 186 acres; the property now is about 150. They first built a small house for weekend getaways but Will missed the wide open spaces and they enlarged the home. When I read that it has 31 rooms and 11 bathrooms, I expected something grand. Silly me! I should have known our Oklahoma favorite son would not have forgotten his down-to-earth roots. The house is large and rambling but so unpretentious! They even had a porch swing from their Beverly Hills home hanging in the living room. When they lived in Beverly Hills, sometimes Will would come home from work, flop down on the porch swing for a nap, then take off again. Betty insisted that it be put in the house so she could keep track of him!
The grounds include a polo field where the game is still regularly played, a four-hole golf course Will had built to help a friend rehab from a plane accident, stables and riding rings and lots of space for hiking. On a cooler day, it would have been fun to hike up to the highest point on the ranch, Inspiration Point, for the view. The house had an ocean view in Will's time, but the trees have grown so tall, it's obscured now.
The stables were almost fancier than the house. They would have been fancier but a friend suggested that they were going to rival the Capitol. Will had the partially finished building torn down and a smaller version erected -- he didn't want to be accused of "putting on airs."
Will Rogers was such an amazing person -- successful in every medium of his day -- and yet so humble. I'm so afraid that younger generations don't know who he was. He's the epitome of a good American -- it's hard to think of a public figure today who has had such a positive influence on society.

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