It was late at night on September 4, 1975 and my mom woke me up. "We're going to go see the President" she said.
We drove a few miles out to McClellan Air Force Base. I think it was after midnight when we got there. My mom flashed her military ID and we drove onto the base and out to the flight line. Some MP's waved us out onto the tarmac. There was a velvet rope line stretched between short poles that a crowd of about a hundred people stood behind, five deep. I wiggled my way through the crowd towards the rope but couldn't quite get to the front.
Air Force One landed and a walkway rolled out to the plane. The door opened, and down the steps walked President Gerald R. Ford and Governor Jerry Brown. President Ford looked a bit tired but Governor Brown had a bounce in his step as they worked the rope line.
As they reached my position I could see them both very clearly but my way was blocked by two blonde women who looked like fashion models. President Ford was almost past when I heard my mom yell from behind "How about a handshake for this little guy?" and she pushed me forward. Ford looked down and reached through the crowd to shake my hand. "Hi Red!" he said with a warm smile and suddenly he didn't look tired at all. Then he was off again.
Governor Brown shook my hand, smiled, and mussed my hair. Then the two of them got into a waiting limousine with some other people and sped away to the Governor's mansion.