You’ve come to the end of your current job – you knew it was for a set period only – but it came with a live-in house, so you have to both move out and move on. You’ve accumulated a few things while there – work gifts and a mountain of paperwork and memos that Legal won’t let you destroy.
And then there are the corporate movies showing you at work. And the video biographies created to give the shareholders an idea of the man behind the desk before he was behind the desk. Together with all the television interviews, magazine stories and photographs. Plus the next guy doesn’t want anything around to remind him (or her) of your existence. So you have to sort it all and find a home for it somewhere.
Unless you are the outgoing occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue because then you have access to a marvelous storage facility called a Presidential Library and Museum. It may not be open 24 hours but you don’t have to pay to keep all your stuff there and it even usually has somewhere to grab a cup of coffee.
I’ve been educating myself about Presidential Libraries given Chicago can now officially boast it is the future home of the country’s 14th. My first lesson was learning it’s not a place full of books on many subjects, more a multi-media documentation of one subject. It’s hard to think of anything comparable in the UK. I googled to see if there is a National Churchill Museum and one does exist – in Fulton, Missouri.
I genuinely like the idea of having one place which brings together the life and times of each presidency. Regardless of whom you voted for, it must be a unique insight into what it was like governing the country at any one time. I’m even considering applying for a passport, as in a Passport to the Presidential Libraries, at a grand cost of $5. Once you’ve acquired stamps from all libraries, you are entitled to a ‘special gift’ which makes perfect sense given the role gifts play in the exhibitions.
It must be one of the hardest questions facing an outgoing leader. As with any big corporation, there are guidelines. If it is a gift from a Foreign Head of State, you can choose to buy it at its appraised value. An outgoing president may keep gifts from a private citizen so long as they are (currently) under $335 in value; more than that you must declare them on your taxes. If you do not want to buy, keep or declare them, they are given to the Library. So I suppose it’s a Presidential way of re-gifting – and you just hope none of the visitors recognize their present.
You probably do hope however that your visitors may themselves wish to purchase something at the gift shop to contribute to the Library’s funding. I am impressed, I have to say, at the merchandising skills of certain libraries. I would like to state at this point that the Presie presies below are not meant to reflect in any way on the Head of State featured in said items. The truth is, they just caught my eye.
A ‘Socks’ bracelet – no, not a misspelt prototype for President Obama’s gift shop. A bracelet with a photo of Socks, the Clintons’ cat. Also in the same store ‘I Miss Bill’ T-shirts and caps. Well, perhaps for not too much longer.
A hand-made maple baseball bat with engravings of the 43rd Presidential Seal and President George W Bush’s signature – one of several baseball items in the 43rd President’s Gift Shop. Does this open the way for a golf theme in President’s Obama’s Library Giftshop? Or that ‘Sox’ bracelet?
‘Cattle Queen of Montana’ and ‘Hellcats of the Navy’ – pre-Presidential movie features by a young Ronald Reagan. Who incidentally got his break in Hollywood after being sent from Des Moines to California to broadcast on the spring training of a little team called the Chicago Cubs.
I have to say that the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is at the top of my visit list. Firstly because you can go on board an actual Air Force One, on loan from the United States Air Force (just in case you thought it was unwanted official gift).
And secondly, because the Library’s Snack shop is a recreation of a pub President Reagan visited in Ireland. So good grounds then for a full-scale replica of Ollie Hayes’ pub where President O’bama downed a pint in his ancestral Irish home of Moneygall. You couldn’t get more Chirish than that.
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