Illinois shows great pride in calling itself The Land of Lincoln. The major tollway heading west is the Lincoln Highway. There are monuments and statues of Lincoln all over the state including the only home he ever owned just down the road in Springfield, the state capital. When we decide to head south a stop to visit the home of the first, and the greatest Republican President is a must. Today we are traveling west along the Lincoln Highway to Dixon, Illinois.
We are visiting the boyhood home of another Republican President who gets honorable mention, at least in my lifetime, Ronald Reagan. Honorable in that he was, at that time in history, well qualified for the position. He served two terms as Governor of California while I was in grade school, and while in college he served two terms as the 40th president. Yep, I was a poor college student when Reaganomics was policy and school funding was almost completely cut. He did grant me a student loan however, and I promptly paid him back soon after graduation. But my fondest memory of Ronald Reagan was when he played “The Gipper” in the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American.
Donald Ronald (notice the spelling mistake) was accomplished in many high school activities including acting as yearbook editor. He was credited in saving 77 lives as a lifeguard at the nearby Rock River at Lowell Park. Ironically the bronze statue near the river is of Reagan atop a horse NOT as a lifeguard in his speedo- locals didn’t think a strapping, young, half naked “Dutch” was presidential.
The Reagan family lived in this Queen Anne style two story house during the 1920’s. And despite being lifelong Democrats, Mr. Reagan graciously invited me and Carlos in anyway. His words as he led us out the door, “Get a hair cut you godless Hollywood hippie.” Flattered, we left.
Not much else in Dixon so we decided to detour from the Lincoln Highway through acres and acres of corn and turn north to stop at a 50’s era diner for a Chicago dog in Oregon. . . Illinois.
What makes this hot dog unique to Chicago? The fluorescent green relish and celery salt squeezed into a poppy seed bun. And the best ones are right here in Illinois. As proud as these Illinoisans are of President Lincoln, they take even greater pride in their hot dogs. If they could elect a hot dog as president, they probably would.
Thanks President Reagan for the tour of your home and tiny town of Dixon. Life was good back then and for you back in the 80’s. The glory days of the Grand Old Party.