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President Reagan visits children's camp

President Reagan visits children’s camp

April 18, 1987: President Reagan hugs Rocky Romero, 12, of Los Angeles at a camp for children with cancer.

Published the next morning, this image by staff photographer Larry Davis was front-page lead art. The accompanying front-page story by Times staff writers Michael Wines and James Gerstenzang started with Cold War arms verification discussions and ended with President Reagan visiting the special camp near his Santa Barbara ranch:

WASHINGTON – In a move that may narrow a superpower dispute over limiting nuclear tests, the Soviet Union has proposed that it and the United States explode atomic weapons at each other’s underground test sites to improve ways of decking and measuring the blasts, U.S. officials said Saturday.

The Reagan Administration, reacting positively, indicated that the offer might ease U.S. complaints about the accuracy of present means of verifying nuclear tests….

Later, Reagan made an afternoon visit to a camp, near his ranch, for children with cancer.

At the camp he said: “There is great reason for hope. It’s the first time there has ever been a Russian leader who has actually suggested eliminating – doing away with – some of the weapons.”

Asked by a reporter about the prospects for a summit conference, Reagan said: “I feel very good. I’m also a little superstitious. I don’t want to talk about things until they happen.”

He also responded to 9-year-old Michael Covel of Riverside, who asked, “How’s Mr. Shultz doing on the ordeal … of nuclear missiles?”

Reagan replied, “He’s come home very optimistic, and we’re all looking forward to carrying this through to where we can make some start in eliminating these terrible ballistic missiles.”

The President began making contributions to the privately funded camp for young cancer victims after reading about it three years ago in Reader’s Digest. He used the visit to the camp, two miles from his mountaintop ranch, to espouse the virtues of voluntarism, but he also was asked about retirement.

“I have thought about the possibility of writing a book,” he said, “so that you could get the true story of what has been going on.”

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