For People Who Wanted Glimpse of President, His Profile Was Too Low

Times Staff Writer

Early Saturday morning, murmurs began filtering through the plush lobby of the Anaheim Hilton hotel, where many of the guests anticipated a glimpse of President Ronald Reagan, perhaps even a quick snapshot as he was whisked by.

But true to Secret Service form and security, no one but the 1,400 faithful who paid $250 each to hear the President’s speech saw him.

The disappointment in the lobby, where some guests had waited since before 8 a.m., was expressed in an almost choruslike sigh. The President’s entourage had arrived on time, but he was taken to a rear, indoor parking lot and ushered through a service elevator to the California Pavilion, where he spoke on behalf of U.S. Senate candidate Ed Zchau.

“Son of a gun, we missed seeing him and we were so close,” moaned Dick Smith of West Bend, Wis.


Smith and his wife, Marilyn, in town for a weeklong convention of credit union employees, had hoped to snap a picture.

“We’re waiting for him,” Marilyn Smith said before the presidential arrival. “We’re all Republicans. We got to see this guy. We think he’s wonderful.”

But minutes later, the Smiths and their friends, Tony and Ann Novak of Superior, Wis., left disappointed.

‘Rather Seen Reagan’


“I guess we’ll go see the Spruce Goose,” Novak said. “I would have rather seen Reagan, though.”

Virginia Flurey of Dayville, Conn., also found herself, unwittingly, in the middle of the anticipation. Flurey, who left for the East Coast an hour after Reagan departed, had known nothing about his local appearance.

“I went outside this morning and saw all these policemen,” she said. “I saw the sign that said, ‘Welcome, Mr. President.’ I wondered, ‘the president of what? “‘

Also in the lobby, only a few feet from the front doors, were Bill and Ethel Rogers of Denver, who said they were Democrats. The Rogerses were in town to witness the grudge match today between the Denver Broncos and the Los Angeles Raiders. They, too, had no idea until Saturday morning that Reagan would be in town.


“I’ve seen two Presidents, Truman and Roosevelt. But that was a long time ago. I wouldn’t mind seeing another,” Rogers said.

Added his wife: “We’re here to see the Broncos beat the Raiders. But if we get to see him, we’ll be Reagan supporters tomorrow.”

Won’t Be Won Over

The Rogerses should return home after today’s game--still Democrats.


Perhaps the most disappointed was Bernardino Benitez, a janitor at the hotel. Half an hour before the President’s scheduled arrival, Benitez listlessly wiped the glass of the front doors. He was taking his time.

“I want to be around here when he comes through the door,” said Benitez, not ready to believe that Reagan was supposed to enter through a private back entrance.

Later, when the presidential caravan drove from the rear of the hotel, Benitez stood in front of building, still lamenting the lost opportunity.

“I got to see the limousines with the darkened windows, that’s all. I thought all week that I was going to see a very famous person today, but it didn’t happen,” Benitez said, returning to his chores inside the hotel.