Mr. Korda And Mr. Reagan
PG was listening to an internet show, while editing the last of some pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. Typically, he works on a rotation. For a few weeks, it is GSU. Then, for a few weeks, it is The Library of Congress. The third part of the cycle is color pictures taken by himself. When the end of a batch is in sight, it is a time of happiness. As much fun as the pictures are, after a while PG gets tired of what he is working on, and is ready for a change. The pictures that go with this feature are the last ones of this GSU cycle.
The background entertainment was Booknotes, a C-Span show that ran a few years ago. It is hosted by Brian Lamb, the founder and CEO of C-Span. Mr. Lamb does not appear to have much of a personality. This means the show keeps the focus on the authors. Booknotes presents a transcript for the talks. Lazy bloggers enjoy this feature.
The author talking tonight is Michael Korda. When the show aired July 9, 1999, Mr. Korda was the Editor in Chief at Simon & Schuster. The house scored the Presidential memoirs of Ronald Reagan. Mr. Korda worked on the book. There were some good stories.
Mr. KORDA: … I then took on editing Ronald Reagan, which was sort of strange, because the president, of course, did not write his books. There was a ghostwriter, Bob Lindsey, whom we picked, and rather famously, at the end of the whole procedure, we had a press conference at which Ronald Reagan and I were photographed ostensibly editing his book. We were each–sat in front of the television cameras and given two sheafs of perfectly blank white paper, and a–and a ballpoint pen, and we sat there, the two of us together at this table, busily pretending to scribble editorial notes and things, and hand them back–on totally blank pieces of paper. I mean, not for nothing did the president come from the movies–and he was wonderful at it. Anybody watching this would–you know, the concentration, the firmness of his handwriting, his total immersion in what he was doing. But I mean, it was–it was the movies.
Anyway, I after this had taken place and this scene had been recorded for all the television shows, the president stood up, and he walked to the door and turned around–the cameras were still on him, of course, and still on–and turned around and waved, and he said, `I’m sure the book is great. I’m looking forward to reading it when I have the time.’ And it’s true. He had only the most tangential connection to this book. …
But he was always, when I–whenever I worked with him–the kindest and the nicest. He always brought his little bag of home-baked cookies to have with coffee in a paper bag in the morning, and he would put them on a plate and pass them around. … He said, `These are homemade chocolate chip cookies, made by Esmerelda, our maid, and I brought them in for us to have with our coffee.’ And we’d put them on a–but these weird look–because they looked like she was–I think she was Ecuadorian or In–Inc–South or Latin American–and they looked like, in fact, like chocolate chip cookies that had been made by somebody who’s never seen a chocolate chip cookie. You know, they were kind of too thick and too burned at the edges. Anyway–but he loved them, so we put them on the plate, and as we were having our coff–we’d pass them around the table. There were about six or seven of us around the table, all of us working on these proofs except for Ronald Reagan, who was kind of looking out the window, and wishing he were doing something else. And everybody has one of these chocolate chip cookies, and when the plate gets ’round to the end of the table, it’s put back in front of the president, and there’s one cookie left on the plate.
And about 15 or 20 minutes I realized that the president is paying no attention whatsoever to what we are saying, and that his mind is fixed on something else. And what it’s fixed on is this one remaining chocolate chip cookie, and it’s perfectly clear to me that he wants that second chocolate chocolate chip cookie with his coffee, but having been brought up in Dixon, Illinois, properly, he has been taught, as a maxim that cannot possibly be broken, that you do not take the last cookie on plate, particularly when you’re the host, so he can’t take it. So to break the spell, I said, `Mr. President, those chocolate chip cookies were delicious.’ And he holds up the plate and he said, `Oh, yes. Yeah, they–they’re good, weren’t they? They’re homemade,’ and he goes through the whole thing. He said, `Would anybody like the cookie?’ And he then passes the plate around the table, and it goes ’round everybody, gets to me, and I pass it on to Bob Lindsey, who’s sitting next to me and between me and the president, and you could see the relief on the president’s face, as this plate comes around with this one–and nobody’s touched this cookie. And just as it reaches Bob Lindsey, without even looking at it, Lindsey takes the cookie up and swallows it. And I looked, and Ronald Reagan’s face was such a picture of sadness that I–my heart went out to him, even though I don’t agree with him politically–I just felt for him. He could–you know, he almost had it, you know, he had that cookie in his hand. He was counting on it, and he didn’t get it.