6 Awesome Things You Probably Didn't Know About Ronald Reagan

Elisabeth Meinecke

4/4/2012 8:20:00 PM - Elisabeth Meinecke

It's no secret that Ronald Reagan holds a special place in the heart of conservatives--and indeed most Americans. Winston Groom, who has a new book out on Ronald Reagan, spoke Wednesday evening at a Reagan exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and shared fascinating anecdotes from Reagan's past that gave insight into what shaped the 40th president of the United States.

Some of the most dynamic examples revealed Reagan's ability to embrace hard work and take on even the most unglamorous of jobs. They also showed a man who knew how to overcome obstacles through that hard work. Try reading these tidbits Groom shared with the audience Wednesday and not be inspired:

--Reagan went from a scrawny, 90-pound guy trying to make it on the football team to captaining the team. What helped him was a job in construction, of all things, that helped him gain bulk. It's fun, in these days of weight rooms and athletic trainers and sports camps from before you learn how to drive, to see a guy who could transform himself without any of the bells and whistles.

--One of Reagan's jobs was washing dishes in a sorority house.

--Another of Reagan's initial jobs was working as a sportscaster, covering the Chicago Cubs. This job would eventually launch his acting career, because the Wrigley family owned an island in California where the Cubs would go for spring training. While in California, Reagan looked up an old contact who was working in showbusiness out there.

--Reagan graduated from college in 1932, which Groom characterized as possibly the worst time anyone could graduate from college. Reagan didn't get the job his father had lined up for him--something that Reagan feels changed the entire course of his life. So the next time you get turned down for a job, remember Reagan's story.

--During his time in the military during World War II, Reagan actually came up with an idea to utilize the talent of Hollywood set designers to help create 3D models of targets that the U.S. needed to bomb.

--Reagan couldn't afford horses, but he loved riding them, so he actually joined a military program similar to ROTC which enabled him to ride.

Groom said he wrote his new book, "Ronald Reagan, Our 40th President," for young adults to learn more about this contemporary president, but, based on the facts he chose to share Wednesday, it's likely the generation that elected Reagan will find themselves falling in love with the Great Communicator all over again.