When Character Was King

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When Character Was King by: Peggy Noonan

Ronald Reagan’s life wasn’t the greatest growing up. He had some extreme difficulties with his parents and his childhood. His family wasn’t categorized in a social class; they didn’t own anything like a farm, store, bank or industry. Ronald Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Illinois, in a town called Tampico, in a one-bedroom rental over a bank building. His mother named him Ronald, but he didn’t like it so he asked people to start calling him what his father called him, Dutch. His father called him that because on the day he was born, his dad ran up the stairs, looked at him and said that he looked like a fat little Dutchman. He had an older brother named Neil who was two years older than him. His father’s name was Jack. He was tall with thick, dark hair. He was Irish Catholic, a salesman and a chain-smoker who loved to tell stories. Ronald wanted a father who was idealistic, because it would have made it easier for him to be what he was, hopeful. During the Great Depression, Ronald hitchhiked to Chicago to look for a job and didn’t tell his father because he knew what he would have said: Don’t bother, no one is going to hire you. His father somehow always let you know he didn’t except the best from people, didn’t think the right thing would happen. He was funny when he was in the mood and always joked around, but he had a sarcastic side, especially when he drank, which was quite often. When Ronald spoke about his parents, he didn’t say much about his father. He didn’t hide that he was an alcoholic but referred to it like his mother taught him to- as a disease from which his father suffered. His father’s alcoholism made it very hard on his family. During Christmas, Ronald wouldn’t be too excited because I meant Dad would start drinking and the fights would come. His mother’s name was Nelle Wilson Reagan; she was his lifesaver. Ronald was truly influenced by his mother, who was extremely religious but also very...
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