By Kevin Wilson
For Ronald Reagan, it was an early-morning layover at a small train station in Clovis. For a 20-something ticket agent, the Cold War-era words they exchanged are still memorable 42 years later.
“We just talked about a lot of things,” said Dennis Edwards, now the president of Wells-Fargo Bank in Portales. “I can remember most of the conversation evolved around the world situation.”
The discussion eventually moved to Edwards’ ticket office and ended about 30 minutes before Reagan’s train arrived.
“We talked for about two hours,” Edwards said. “That’s always been a high point in my life. I was impressed at how sincere he was and how much he really believed in his principles, knowing it was important to get rid of communism.”
Edwards said the chance meeting with the future two-term president, who died Saturday at age 93, took place in the summer of 1962.
Reagan, already well known as an actor, was touring the country giving speeches about the dangers of communism, Edwards said. Reagan had given a speech in Roswell earlier in the day and ridden the train to Clovis so that he could catch another to San Francisco.
Edwards said he was the only employee at the station during a graveyard shift and Reagan was the only person waiting for a train known as the “San Francisco Treat.”
Edwards said he recognized Reagan from his many films; of course he followed Reagan’s political career closely after their meeting.
Carolyn Edwards said she’s heard her husband’s Reagan story numerous times in their 11 years of marriage.
Dennis Edwards always wondered if Reagan had remembered that night.
“After he was in office,” Edwards said, “I often thought about sending him a letter … to see if he remembered talking with somebody at a train station in Clovis, New Mexico. I regret that I never sent a card.”