Here’s most of a nice speech that President Ford delivered to the Annual Congressional Dinner of the University of Michigan Club back in March 1975. To me, much of it applies today as ever and if he were around I’m guessing he would have shared many of these memories on the field today:
[Introductory portion omitted]
You know, as a matter of fact, I can still remember spending a good part of my sophomore and junior years washing dishes in the DKE house–of which I was a proud member–and I mean washing dishes. As a matter of fact, I washed so many dishes I was the only athlete in Michigan history who ever had a football knee and dishpan hands at the same time. [Laughter]
As I mentioned a moment ago, I was lucky enough to play football, first on Ferry Field and then in the stadium. And I was lucky enough to start a few games in the football season of 1934–and that was quite a year. The Wolverines on that memorable occasion played Ohio State, and we lost 34 to 0. And to make it even worse, that was the year we lost seven out of eight of our scheduled games. But you know, what really hurt me the most was when my teammates voted me their most valuable player. I didn’t know whether to smile or sue. [Laughter]
When I look back to 1931 and bring us up to date, so many, many fine memories come to mind.
In my freshman year, I had a job at the University Hospital. Dr. Kerlikowski, with the help of Harry Kipke, got me the job. I was a very disinterested waiter in the interns dining room and a very energetic waiter in the nurses cafeteria. [Laughter] You know, the truth is, it couldn’t have been better. I worked in the interns dining room for their benefit and the nurses dining room for my benefit. [Laughter]
Personally, I am intrigued by the differences between then and now, as well as by the similarities. For instance, back in Ann Arbor I lived on the fourth floor of a rooming house and my rent was $4 per week. And I shared it with a good friend of mine from Grand Rapids. Today in Washington, that building would be described as a townhouse. The room would be called a pad. The rent would be $400. And you still wouldn’t get enough hot water. [Laughter]
Of course, that doesn’t apply to where I live now. I have only been there 7 months, and you can’t believe all of the hot water I have gotten into. [Laughter]
Frankly, I just wish some of my critics could have been here tonight. I would have liked them to know what my major in Ann Arbor was—economics. The truth is, it shows you how little times have changed. In 1935, I got my first degree, and in 1975, from some sources, I am getting my third degree–and it is still in economics. [Laughter]
But now as then, I look to the future with confidence. Those of us who went to the University of Michigan during the thirties don’t have to be reminded of just how hard those times were. But what years haven’t been hard? And what times haven’t been a challenge to those who lived in them? And what is wrong with hard times and a challenge? I think it has a way of making people a little stronger and a little better.
And frankly, I have always been grateful, despite whatever hardships I and others served under, for my years at the University of Michigan. They were darn good years, years that provided me with the necessary building blocks and the blueprints to fashion a life from, years that gave me so many, many true friends to experience a life with.
And a rare night like this allows all of us to look back with affection and, at times, with amusement. But our sights should always be set on tomorrow and the many tomorrows that follow.
I know what my views are and my hopes and expectations are. You know, I tend to follow the sentiments expressed in one of our dearly loved college songs–the one that says, "I want to go back to Michigan." And I do. But with your kind permission, I would like to do it in 1981. [Laughter]
Thank you very much.
Note: The President spoke at 8:40 p.m. in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Representative Marvin L. Esch and Senator Robert P. Griffin of Michigan; Robben W. Fleming, president of the University of Michigan; Charles Wixom, president of the University of Michigan Club; Dr. Albert C. Kerlikowski, former director of the University Hospital; and Harry Kipke, former football coach at the university.
Citation: Gerald R. Ford: "Remarks at the Annual Congressional Dinner of the University of Michigan Club.," March 5, 1975. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=4764.
Related: Honoring Freshman Ford
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