It was 1979 (or 1980), and I was working in the El Bolero Room, a restaurant, at the Ramada Inn Riverside in Melbourne, Florida. I was a bus boy, dishwasher, prep cook, and I worked banquets too. It was a thankless job as the waitresses always stiffed me, but were nice about it, and the restaurant only had a few customers a day. It was a very dark restaurant having a Spanish style, so there were pieces of armor on the wall, weapons, and the colors were dark red/maroon, and dark wood.
One of these days I worked, we were preparing for a big banquet; a stop on Governor Reagan’s campaign trail. The hotel was fairly close to the Melbourne Airport so it was a quick trip from one to the other. We had Secret Service crawling all over the place and those of us who were scheduled to work the banquet, had to get security clearance to be allowed in the banquet rooms. This was ages ago now, but I think the guests had paid several thousand dollars each to see Gov. Reagan and hear him speak. So we get our clearances and special badges to wear so we can come and go from the banquet rooms. We’re getting things set up and time was drawing near for his arrival, and the guests were showing up.
Two hours later, we were told Reagan’s plane had landed at the airport and he was on his way! We were quite excited to have someone running for President, in our very own banquet room and meeting him too. The main entrance to the restaurant was all glass and faced the hallway to the lobby of the hotel, and it also faced the entrance to the bathrooms. I’m standing at the glass doors with several of the waitresses watching Gov. Reagan come down the hallway from the lobby; how exiciting! He was surrounded by Secret Service and he went straight to the men’s room. The men’s room had two doors to it; the first led into the room with the mirrors, sinks, and papertowels, and the second door let to the stalls and urinals.
Well running for Pres has it’s priviledges I guess and the Secret Service went into the bathroom first, one guy to look around and two to hold the two doors open. From our standpoint, we could see right into the men’s room, to the urinals as both doors were being held open. Then Gov. Reagan walked into the men’s room, unzipped his pants, and took a leak; while we watched. We of course didn’t see anything, but we could see him standing there holding his own as he took care of business. After he was done, he put things back where they belonged, zipped up, and walked out of the men’s room. He proceeded to go back the way he came, to the lobby, and left. He went back to the airport and we never saw him again. He never entered the Banquet Rooms where the paying guests were, not even to say hello. He pee’d and left.
The paying guests had a wonderful meal and top notch service, but never got to see or hear Governor Reagan nor his pitch on running for President. He did win that election and I suppose his not talking to the paying guests had little impact on the election!
That was my brush with a President to be in 1980, in Melbourne, Florida, in the Men’s Room.