The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Digital Library

The Vladivostok Summit Meeting on Arms Control

Section 4: Breaks Between Sessions

The American and Soviet delegations take a break
The delegations take a break

The American delegation meeting outdoors to avoid being bugged.
American delegation meeting outdoors (in -20 degree weather)

From President Gerald R. Ford's memoir A Time to Heal (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), pages 217-218:

Initially, we had planned to meet at six o'clock, talk for two hours, break for dinner and then resume the next morning.  But we had made so much progress that both of us decided to cancel dinner and just keep going.  We did take three short breaks to relax, walk outside in the snow and talk privately with our aides - without the possibility of our conversations being bugged.

President Ford examines a wood portrait of himself given by General Secretary Brezhnev
Ford with portrait presented by Brezhnev

During one of these breaks, Brezhnev walked up and gave me a wood portrait of myself.  It was a marvelous work, although it didn't look much like me; the artist had worked from a picture in some Russian magazine.  Kennerly, Hartmann and Scowcroft were standing with a group of English-speaking Russians when I stepped outside.  I held the portrait up while Kennerly began reeling off his photographs.  The Russians crowded in, and I said, "Isn't this nice?  Just look at it.  I think it's a great likeness."  Kennerly paused from his picture- taking and said, "Hey now, would you look at that?  They gave you a picture of Frank Sinatra."  That was one time I didn't appreciate his wise-guy humor.

Ford-Brezhnev late night meeting
Late night meeting



We didn't wind up our talks until after midnight, and I was famished.  The Soviet chefs assigned to our quarters were preparing a late snack, and as I waited for the food to arrive, I remembered that back home in the U.S., Michigan was scheduled to play Ohio State.  I told Bob Barrett, my military aide, to wake me at six o'clock with the score of the football game.

Precisely at six, Barrett entered my room.  "Mr. President, time to wake up," he said.

"How did the game turn out? What was the score?"

"Twelve to ten," Barrett replied, and turned to leave the room.

"Wait a minute. Who had the twelve, and who had the ten?"

"I was afraid you'd ask me that."  From the look on his face, I knew Michigan had lost.  "Yeah," Barrett continued, the same poor kid who missed the field goal last year missed another one seconds before the end of the game."

I knew how heartbroken that Michigan player must have been, and I found myself wishing that I were somewhere where I could easily pick up a telephone and try to brighten his day.

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