President-elect Ronald Reagan cast some loving last looks at California today and Los Angeles declared "Ronald Reagan Day" in honor of the first Los Angeles resident to be elected president.
"I can assure you, California is not an easy place to leave," Reagan told a crowd of politicians and other dignitaries filling the Los Angeles City Council chamber. Reagan leaves Wednesday for Washington to prepare for his inauguration.
It has been a week of goodbyes for Reagan. Goodbye to his Pacific Palisades home. Goodbye to his Santa Barbara ranch. Goodbye to friends and goodbye gifts.
"I've had a love affair with California for many years. It's only increased as the years have gone by," Reagan said. "I can foresee that it is going to be necessary for Air Force One to come west frequently. Sometimes I won't even pretend it's on business."
Although Reagan said recently, "I have always been well aware . . . the difficulties of being president," he makes no bones about his "mixed emotions" about leaving California -- where it is warm, sunny and his schedule is light -- for Washington -- where it is cold and the responsibilities of the presidency are heavy.
At least one part of the mix for the man about to become the 40th president might resemble the thoughts of the second president, John Adams, on his inauguration day. Adams wrote to his wife of the serenity of outgoing president George Washington:
"He seemed to enjoy a triumph over me. Methought I heard him think, 'I am fairly out and you are fairly in! See which of us will be the happiest.'"
Reagan has seemed especially relaxed in his last week here, joking with friends and reporters while carrying on a schedule that included public appearances only for one of his frequent haircuts, a stop at his tailor, a day cutting firewood at his ranch and a black-tie dinner with old friends.
Mayor Tom Bradley, City Council President John Ferraro and members of the state Senate and state Assembly presented Reagan with an assortment of plaques, flags, certificates and other gifts.
Assemblyman Mike Roos presented Reagan with a large jar of one of the president-elect's favorite things -- jelly beans.
Democrat Roos noted that he had worked for President Carter's reelection campaign, "thus setting the stage for an overwhelming victory in November."
Reagan promised to keep the jelly beans on the Cabinet table. "You can tell a lot about a fellow's character if he's the sort of fellow who puts out all of one color," Reagan joked.
Another present was a pair of spurs, which Republican County Supervisor Peter Schabarum urged Reagan to use on the U.S. Congress. But, for the most part, politics were forgotten as the Democratic mayor and others congratulated the local boy who made good.
The Reagans have put their Pacific Palisades house on the market for $1.9 million in preparation for their move into what Reagan never tire of saying will be public housing.
But they will keep their ranch as a western retreat. This week Reagan was given an elegant Arabian stallion that will end up at the ranch, as will two matching Colt .45 pistols in handmade holsters with the presidential seal on the buckle -- a gift from Arvo Ojala, a quick-draw expert who has taught actors, including Reagan, how to handle guns.
After City Hall, Reagan went to the Biltmore Hotel, where he was guest of honor at a luncheon sponsored by the Central City Association of Los Angeles.
Actor Charlton Heston and Democratic State Treasurer Jesse Unruh, whom Reagan defeated for the California governorship in 1970, spoke in praise of Reagan. The president-elect recalled that he first visited the Biltmore on the evening that led to the screen test that launched him in the movies.
"So it started here and we're saying farewell here," Reagan said.
He ended his last pre-presidential speech here, a week before he takes the presidential oath of office, with the famous line from his 1964 speech for Barry Goldwater that began the transformation from an actor with a lagging career into an enormously successful politician:
"We do have a rendezvous with destiny."