Dear Family and Friends …
Years ago I became the first person in the world to send overly long form letters to family and friends at Christmastime. Now you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Christmas form letter, usually written, oddly enough, by the family cat, which, of course, is adorable.
But has anyone ever gotten an President’s Day form letter? I think not.
Here goes …
I have actually met three Presidents of the United States of America thanks to my involvement in the Olympic Movement.
In 1996, at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, I got word that the President wanted to meet the team. So with the Presidential press corps on one side of the room and the swim team on the other, I waited by the door. Eventually President Clinton strode in. I stuck out my hand and he shook it.
Later they were having difficulty situating the team photo with the President. He didn’t want to stand in front of anyone, which was very thoughtful, so Sheila Taormina pipes up with a suggestion, “Can’t he just squat?”
The next Presidential encounter was at the 1998 Goodwill Games. I got word that President Carter would be joining Ted Turner at the swimming pool one night. I waited at a back entrance where Mr. Carter’s car drove up. He walked up to me and we had a conversation. I said, “Hello Mr. President.” And he said, “How are you?” My only regret was that I didn’t stick out my hand because we were standing face-to-face.
Finally, after the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, I accompanied Team USA for the White House Visit. That was awesome. We got to wander around the West Lawn. President Bush gave a speech with the White House as the backdrop. The team was standing behind him, in stairwells and balconies. Quite a photo op. I sat on the inside aisle in front of the President, a couple rows from the podium. When the speech was over, W shook hands with the dignitaries in the first row. I was standing in the aisle and when the President finished with the front row, there was a moment … where’s he going now? Others hesitated, I shot the gap, and by ‘shot the gap’ I mean, I stepped forward, hand extended. He shook my hand. I said, “Hey.” He said, “How’s it going?” My second Presidential conversation.
The completeist in me wants to track down all remaining living ex-Presidents and shake their hands, but these encounters can not be planned, what with all the Secret Security always milling around.
And I don’t work in the Olympic Movement anymore, so the opportunity to meet world leaders at big events has lessened considerably, although I have met two Governors of Colorado, both Bill Ritter and John Hickenlooper, at the Fine Arts Center.
Oh wait, I have met two other Governors … Arnold Schwarzenegger (R – Calif.) at the 1991 U.S. Olympic Festival in Los Angeles the weekend Terminator II opened and Jesse “The Body” Ventura (I – Minn.); I met him when I brought Amy Van Dyken to be interviewed by Jesse at KFAN.
I have also met one Senator, the late, great Paul Wellstone (D – Minn.), when I was a student at Macalester College and he was a professor at Carleton College. The interview was about farmers protesting a powerline crossing their land. He had written a book.
At the 1991 Pan American Games, I stood two feet away from Fidel Castro, but since I didn’t speak to him or shake his hand and since he was not a U.S. President, he did not qualify for inclusion in the first-ever Snyder Family President’s Day Letter.
And I did say “Howdy” to Jesse Jackson when I was going up an escalator and he was going down an escalator at CNN in Atlanta; I was bringing Brooke Bennett to an interview there after the swimming was over in 1996. I enjoyed his speech at the 1988 Democratic Convention.
That does it. The end of the first and probably only Snyder Family President’s Day Letter, which years from now biographers will refer to as “the letter where Snyder listed all the politicians he had ever met or stood next to.”