Anyone that knows me well knows that Ronald Reagan is one of my hero's and that I long for another leader of the caliber of a Ronald Reagan. There was a time that I did not trust Ronald Reagan. Once he gained my trust I never doubted that America was in good hands because Ronald Reagan was a patriot and I knew that he loved America as much as I did and that he was a visionary. I don't trust most politicians and I don't think that most of them share the love that I have for this country or the love that Ronald Reagan had for this country. His character was developed by a lot of different things but one thing that had a great impact was his job as a life guard. He worked in this job from 1926 until 1932. When his family moved to Dixon Illinois in 1920 he was only nine years old but he had his mind set on one day working as a life guard in Lowell Park. It was a roped off swimming area on the Rock River. A turbulent river with a strong undertow and currents that had taken the lives of many swimmers over the years. When a spot opened in the spring of 1926 he applied as a sophomore in high school for the job but the owner felt that he was too young. He hired him anyway and was never disappointed.
Several swimmers had died in the summers just prior to Reagan being hired but he never lost a swimmer the whole seven summers that he was there. He won several swimming competitions in Dixon and still holds the record for swimming the fastest from the park entrance to the rivers farthest bank and back. He was approached to swim in the 1932 Summer Olympics but refused because he didn't want to give up his job. He would watch up to a 1,000 swimmers at one time without assistance. His easiest rescues were toddlers who would wander out. He would always give them a stern warning about going out too far. His most difficult rescues were the strong Illinois farm boys who were as big and strong as he was but a little too cocky. They would think that they were better swimmers than they were or strong enough to overcome the current. When they got in trouble and were in a panic, many times they would nearly drag Reagan under with them. He would have to deliver a right cross to the jaw to knock them out. For this reason some of these guys resented the fact that he saved them. They were probably jealous. The girls loved him because of his physique, good looks and tanned body. One lady said that a girlfriend of hers nearly drowned trying to get Reagan to save her.
Reagan would work during swimming season 12 hour days, 7 days a week. On one particular night in August he was getting ready to leave while helping the owner close up the bath house. It was 9:30 P.M. but four teenagers, 2 boys and 2 girls, entered the swimming area illegally from downriver for a night swim. One of the boys named James Raider got in trouble out in the deep water and was sucked under. Reagan heard a lot of splashing and ran out and dove into the water swimming blindly with only his instincts to guide him. Reagan found the boy and was able to drag him to shore. The boy wasn't breathing and Reagan administered artificial respiration. After a few minutes he responded and Reagan and the other swimmers gave a sigh of relief. This was the second near drowning in two weeks. The rescue made the front page of the Dixon newspaper on August 3, 1928. It was Reagan's 28th save and the paper would keep up with how many people Reagan saved after this to the delight of the readers. When he left the job after the 1932 season he was officially credited with saving the lives of 77 people. He saved a 78th person when he returned on a visit to Lowell Park to see a lifeguard buddy of his. The buddy asked him to keep an eye on things while he went to the restroom. In later years when he was a disc jockey in Des Moine Iowa he saved people at a swimming pool there and once in California he rescued a person as Governor of California at the age of 56. These rescues in my opinion probably had a great impact on Ronald Reagan. They helped prepare him for the greatest role that he would ever play as President of the United States. In my mind Ronald Reagan was the greatest president of my lifetime and one of the five greatest presidents ever.