Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan Rare Free Frank and Handwritten Letter to the 101-Year-Old Widow of the Iowa Radio Station Program Director Who Gave Him His First Job 62 Years Earlier. This is Perhaps His Last Handwritten Letter, Other Than His Famous Alzheimer's Letter, Before the Ravages of the Disease Took Hold.

Rare Autograph Letter Signed “Love / Dutch,” 2 pages, on his personal 6.25” x 4.25” card with gilt embossed presidential seal at top center above engraved “Ronald Reagan,” no date, no place, but accompanied by an extremely rare 7.25” x 5” envelope franked in the upper right “Ronald Reagan,” with return address of his office in his hand at upper left, “11000 Wilshire Boulevard / Los Angeles Calif. 90024,” addressed by him to “Mrs. Peter MacArthur / 1500 Lucerne Ave. / Lake Worth Town [sic, Towers] Apt. 507 / Lake Worth Fl. 33460.” No postal markings. Penned date at lower left in another hand “9-94.” Envelope browned at upper right edge. Fine condition.

In full, “Dear Hup – Just a line to thank you for your letter of July 29. Nancy & I were so happy to hear from you. I’m getting along but not quite a 101. Im [sic] pushing in the 80’s and wish I were not quite so many. Nancy & I are happy to have your letter. Thanks and our love. [on verso] We are happy to hear from you. Love – Dutch.” Penned date at lower left in the same hand as on the envelope, “9-94.” We can verify this date from a previous birthday correspondence between Reagan and Mrs. McArthur (copy enclosed), in which he writes to her about turning 97 years old in September of 1990.

Reagan used a thick pointed blue felt-tip pen to write this letter with slight ink spread. Unlike earlier handwritten letters to Hup, this one has a wide left margin. Reagan did not use the matching envelope to the card. Instead he used a larger one – a blank envelope with a blue lining under the flap, similar to those used to send invitations. Since this envelope did not have his printed return address and printed free frank, Reagan had to handwrite his address and personally frank it.

Two months later, on November 5, 1994, the 83-year-old former President announced to the nation in a handwritten letter, “My Fellow Americans, I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer's disease....” As in his letter to Hup, Reagan began with a wide left margin and, as he continued writing, line by line, the left margin became wider.

Reagan’s announcement was followed by a prepared statement by his five personal physicians, in part, “Over the past twelve months we began to notice from President Reagan’s test results symptoms indicating the possibility of early stage Alzheimer’s Disease. Additional testing and an extensive observation over the past few weeks have led us to conclude that President Reagan is entering the early stages of this disease...”

Hup was 101-year-old Lydia Hupfer “Hup” McArthur, widow of Peter MacArthur, program director at radio station WOC in Davenport, Iowa, which shared its frequency with WHO Des Moines. In June 1932, Reagan had graduated from Eureka College with a degree in economics and sociology and he wanted to be a radio sports announcer. He first went to the radio stations in Chicago. He was told to try some of the small cities. From an article President Reagan wrote for UPI about his first job, in part, “This was 1932 and the very bottom of the Great Depression ... I left Chicago, knocked on doors across Illinois and crossed the river into Iowa. At WOC Davenport I made my standard pitch and this time the turndown was accompanied by word that I was a week late. They had held auditions and hired an announcer the week before. That was too much.

“On the way out I said aloud, ‘How do you get to be a sports announcer if you can’t get inside a radio station?’ The door closed and I went to the elevator. While I was waiting for it I heard someone calling. It was Peter MacArthur, the program director I’d been talking to ... When he caught up with me he asked what it was that I’d first said about sports announcing. I repeated what I’d said and he asked me if I knew anything about football. When I told him I’d played it for eight years he asked if I thought I could tell him about a game to make him see it. I said I thought so. With that he took me into a studio, stood me in front of a mike and told me to broadcast an imaginary game. I knew I had to have names so I decided I’d do the fourth quarter of a game I’d played in my last year at Eureka ... Fifteen minutes later I called the final play and then grabbed the mike to keep from falling down. My knees had suddenly gotten wobbly. Peter MacArthur said: ‘Be here Saturday and you are broadcasting the Iowa-Minnesota game. You’ll get $5 and bus fare. I was a sports announcer...”

In 1937, Reagan went to the Chicago Cubs spring training camp in southern California to do play-by-play for WHO. Impressed by his confidence and good looks, an agent arranged a screen test for the 26-year-old sports announcer at Warner Bros. He signed a seven-year contract and moved to California. But he never forgot Pete and Hup MacArthur whom he affectionately called “Ma” and “Pa” (“Maw & Paw,” “Mom & Pop”). He sent Christmas cards and letters to them on a regular basis from 1938 until 1948 when Pete died, continuing to correspond with Hup until she died in 1995 at the age of 102.


Item: 65276

Price: $7,500.00
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Ronald Reagan
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