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Comments & Curiosities: Imagine the aging process

January 15, 2011|By Peter Buffa

Ronald Reagan is coming to Newport Beach. Well, his statue is anyway.

The idea is the brainchild of Newport Beach Councilman Keith Curry, a long-time Reagan admirer, and not just from afar. Curry was a member of the Reagan administration in the 1980s, serving five years as a deputy director at the Federal Transit Administration — a special agency in charge of making sure no transit project happens quickly.

In October, Curry suggested renaming Bonita Canyon Sports Park after Reagan, but the votes fell short. In the spirit of never stop fighting until the fight is done, Curry then suggested a statue of Reagan be placed in the new Civic Center to commemorate the Great Communicator.

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At Tuesday's City Council meeting, not only were the votes there but they were unanimous. The plan is to raise $50,000 for a larger-than-life statue of Reagan, which will hopefully be cast, buffed up and bolted down by the summer. And here is a nice twist to the story: with Feb. 6 marking Reagan's 100th birthday, the timing for Newport Beach to tip its commodore's cap to president of the United States 40 couldn't be better.

To be honest with you, that's the part that jumped out at me — Reagan would be 100 years old if he were still with us. When a famous person crosses over, we tend to remember them as they were, and it's hard to relate to what they would look like if they were still on this side of the divide also known as life. True, Reagan was 79 when he left the White House, but he was a robust, commanding presence who looked much younger than his years.

Because we saw little of him after that, that image remains frozen in our mind's eye. The "mental illusion" of someone who would be, umm, fully mature today is even more pronounced when it's someone who moved on long before their time. My trusty mouse and I discovered that when we rooted around in the folder marked "Famous/Departed/Early." While we're on U.S. presidents, try John F. Kennedy. He would be 93. Can you picture a 93-year-old JFK? I cannot. Then again, Jackie Kennedy would be 81, as would Audrey Hepburn.

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