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Tears & cowboy boots at Calif. resting place
New York Daily News ^ | 6/07/04 | MICHELLE CARUSO

Posted on 06/07/2004 1:47:18 AM PDT by kattracks

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - Californians erected a makeshift shrine out of jellybeans, flags and a pair of cowboy boots at the gates to Ronald Reagan Library yesterday.

The hilltop library in Simi Valley was closed, but mourners began arriving at its entrance by dawn with flowers, balloons and teddy bears.

Some, like Jennifer Varnel of Moorpark, Calif., wept for the actor-turned-President.

"I love Ronald Reagan," she said, choking back tears. "I voted for him the very first time I could vote. This is important."

One mourner even left a pair of cowboy boots stuffed with lilies at the library gate, not far from a handmade sign that read "Thank You President Reagan: You Made Us Proud Again."

Inside the library, work crews prepared for today's arrival of the former President's coffin, which will rest in the main lobby for public viewing.

Outside the library, flags hung at half-staff and crews groomed the grounds where Reagan will be laid to rest in a burial plot on Friday. On a clear day, the spot has a panoramic view of rolling hills and the Pacific Ocean about 10 miles away.

Sailor John McAlpin drove nearly 200 miles from his Navy base in San Diego; he was disappointed there was no viewing yesterday.

"I really wanted to pay my respects. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I don't know where I might be headed," McAlpin said.

Other mourners gathered yesterday in Santa Monica, Calif., outside the Gates Kingsley & Gates funeral home, which is handling Reagan's funeral arrangements. Visitors dropped off jars of jellybeans, a cowboy hat and handmade signs, including one that read "God Bless the Gipper."

"To me, Ronald Reagan was America," said Veronica Baker, who proudly showed off a 1993 picture of her son Matthew posed with Reagan. "My son volunteered at the Reagan Library during college and the President was nice enough to take time to meet him."

Ukrainian immigrant Lilia Shimanovsky said she met Reagan while he was walking on the beach in Santa Monica with two bodyguards six years ago. "I said, 'Hi, Mr. President' and he smiled and waved. He asked me where I was from and if I liked it here in America. I was very impressed."

Originally published on June 7, 2004

TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ronaldreagan

1 posted on 06/07/2004 1:47:19 AM PDT by kattracks
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