Now that’s af-Ford-able!

Cassie PenceVail correspondentAspen, CO Colorado
NWS Ford Auction1 SM 7-7-07

BEAVER CREEK – It’s not every day you get to take a practice swing with a president’s golf clubs or feel the slick shine of his patent leather golf shoes. Nor is it routine to flip through a president’s record collection, reading the intimate greetings from the musicians themselves, some of which predate the president’s term in office.

On Saturday, people from around the country flocked to Beaver Creek, where Guernsey’s of New York auctioned off more than 500 items belonging to former President Ford and his wife, Betty. Things such garden books, LIFE magazines, crystal Christmas platters, Asian ceramic figurines and gifts given to President Ford from leaders abroad were spread across tables. People milled around, examining the Fords’ personal effects closely.When preparing to sell their Beaver Creek house last fall, Betty Ford gathered several items in the house that neither the couple nor their children had room for, so she decided to donate them. All the funds raised at Saturday’s auction benefit three local charities: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, OK Corral Camp and the Eagle River Scholarship Fund.Though Randy Hoge of Colorado Springs never met Ford personally, Hoge served in Vietnam and appreciated the role Ford played in the final U.S. withdrawal.

“We know of Ford’s legacy, and we would like to have something of Ford’s legacy,” said Hoge, who was swinging Ford’s golf clubs and had his eye on an old Los Angeles Dodgers jacket of Ford’s.George Young of Fort Worth, Texas, who has a home in the Bachelor Gulch subdivision of Beaver Creek, said he didn’t think he would buy anything at the auction but liked the idea of supporting local charities. He ended up taking home a framed Carousel Ball poster many celebrities, including Jimmy Stewart, Dolly Parton, Lucille Ball, Racquel Welch and Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed for Ford. “How would you get all these celebrity signatures in one place? Golly this is neat,” Young said.

It could be easy to dismiss these auction items as novelty, mere trinkets or simple memorabilia, but the overall feeling at the auction was one of importance. “This is part of history,” said Caroline Karlin, originally from Washington, D.C. “I really admired the Fords, and I needed to have a few things.”Now everything that Ford symbolized, like integrity and humbleness, will live on in these tiny reminders on the shelves and tables and in the homes of his fans across the country.