Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 27, 1975 · Page 121
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 121

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 27, 1975
Page 121
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Page 121 article text (OCR)

of freedom, a lot of happiness in it. At this stage in my life, money doesn't mean very much to me. I figure that so long as you're doing what you want to do, money is not a concern. My mother has second thoughts about my cowboy- in', but that's the way all mothers are." How does his father, the President, feel about his cowboy ambitions? "He lets me do what I want to," Steve confirms. "He's open-minded about it. So long as he figures I'm headed in the right direction, it's okay with him. He'll Gerald Ford's son Steve, 79, /earns to ride the range- something his father did as a teen-ager. Like a/I the President's children, Steve doesn't hesitate to express his own opinions, even when they differ with Dad's. RAMON A, CAL I n 13 days the Ford children will mark their first anniversary as members of _. America's First Family. Under careful scrutiny by press and public for one year, the four Fords have remained remarkably unspoiled, informal, humorous, well-mannered, straightforward, in fact downright normal. Mike, 25; Jack, 23; Steve, 19, and Susan, 18, present a sharp contrast to the two Nixon girls. With the possible exception of Susan Ford, who has understandably succumbed at times to Washington's social hurly-burly, the Ford kids eschew any role in the so- called "Imperial Presidency". They are as down-to-earth as their father, a man who has no airs except friendly ones. Take Steve Ford, who is spending this summer riding the range in Montana and Utah, as his father once did in Wyoming when he was a teen-ager, "I like to stay out of politics," explains Steve, who has yet to vote, but nevertheless keeps abreast of public issues. "For example," he says, "I kind of differ with .my dad about strip mining. The land's got to be returned to its natural state, which some of the mine owners are not doing. I'd like to see that by Charles Peterson wherever strip mining is done in this country the land is returned to its natural state. A lot of environmental regulations are being overlooked, and in 15 years people are going to regret it." Following his graduation from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., last year, Steve took a year off, a decision which did not meet with overwhelming parental approval. But this fall, Steve plans to attend Utah State University at Logan from where his brother Jack recently graduaTed. Steve's girl friend Steven has a 17-year-old girlfriend, Frances "Dee-Dee" Jarvis of Alexandria, Va., who describes him as "a natural, easygoing, nice-to-be-with young man." In the collegiate years to come Dee- Dee won't be too far away from Steve. She's enrolled as a freshman in the University of Northern Colorado. Steve says he hopes to make wildlife science his occupation. "Ifs kind of like game management, wildlife management," he points out. "Politics is not for me. Thaf s my old man's game. Right how I'm into being a cowboy, and it's been working out prettywell for me. A few weeks ago i spent a couple of days in Ramona under Casey Tibbs--he's a rodeo champion--learning how to ride a bronco, wrestle a steer, and rope a calf. "And I must say," he adds, "that being a cowboy, working for somebody, on someone else's ranch--that sort of life appeals to me, because there's a lot wrong, but he gives me the opportunity to get out on my own and do what 1 think is right." Parents set curfew Betty and Gerald Ford reared their children to learn by doing. Jack Ford, 23, who is spending the summer in Washington before hitting the campaign trail for his father this fall, has worked as a hotel bellhop, deckhand on a freighter, forest ranger, and U.S. Senate page. He recalls that his parents, especially his mother, were never over-permissive and that when the children began dating, they had curfew hours to meet. If they broke them, they were punished. Michael, 25, the eldest and the only married child, is completing his final year at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass. Has their First Family status changed the Ford children very much? According to friends, only Susan has been considerably affected by the White House environment Her ex-boyfriend, Gardner Britt, who is attending Virginia Polytechnic Insti- . tute this summer to improve his grades, says, "Susan bears the brunt of it because she's living at home. I think if she were a little older she wouldn't be so affected by all the Presidential trappings. "We broke up, you know, because Susan said she wanted to be free in order to take advantage of being the President's daughter, meeting all those society people." Britt, who was introduced to Susan on a blind date, says, "I understand it, and I still think she's a super girl." 'Really grooves' As for the other young Fords, "Jack dabbles in Washington society as a lark," a friend explains. "He's not taken in by it. And Mike and Steven couldn't care less. But Susan is impressionable and she really grooves on it." The Ford kids and their friends ac^ knowledge that they've reaped some benefits from the Ford Presidency. Jack has brought Ravi Shankar, and rock stars George Harrison, and Billy Preston to the White House. He's been spotted in Manhattan with Bianca Jagger, wife of Mick Jagger of the Roiling Stones. Friends of Susan and Jack have summer continued 78-year-o/d Susan Ford enjoying her senior prom held at the White House.

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