During his eight-years as President of the United States, Ronald Reagan held five summits with the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Summit number three between the two men was held December 8-10, 1987, in Washington, DC.
On the trip to the White House on the final day of the summit, the Soviet General Secretary shared the back seat of his Zil limousine with Vice-President George HW Bush. From the Soviet Embassy, they would have traveled down Massachusetts Avenue to DuPont Circle and then continued down Connecticut Avenue to 1600 Pennsylvania.
In December of 1987, I was a stockbroker working in the nation’s capital; my office a seven-iron and tap-in from the White House. At 24, I was less than a year away from returning to New York to work at the counter of my family’s Bronx paint store; Tremont Paint.
My red 1985 Nissan 300 Z would have been two-years old; though still showroom condition due to my early obsession with keeping my cars overly clean. A gift to myself after a particularly successful month selling stocks and bonds to DC’s wealthy, THE “Z” had a smooth-shifting five-speed manual transmission (there was no such thing as a six-speed at the time), and was my first sports car.
Idling as the first car at the at a traffic light waiting to turn onto Connecticut Avenue and onto my office near the White House, I was probably thinking about a girl, a baseball game or another girl-who didn’t know the first.
As the light changed to green, a DC motorcycle cop pulled in front of my Z, blocking me and all other traffic from turning. Connecticut Avenue was closed I was told. “Gorbachev!” the cop said.
As I stood next to my car on the corner of 21st and Connecticut, the motorcade sped by.
Passing directly in front of me, the motorcade with Bush and Gorbachev should have continued on but strangely it stopped at the curb on the shuttered Connecticut Avenue, just feet to my right. It didn’t take long for the pedestrians on Connecticut Avenue to realize what was going on and a crowd formed as the two men began shaking hands.
Gorby called it “glasnost.”
I rushed towards Connecticut Avenue looking for a brush with greatness but was held back by the heavily armed DC motorcycle cop who barked “Stay with your car!”
In a few minutes the excitement was gone and the motorcade delivered the General Secretary to the White House where he and President Reagan signed the INF Treaty, reducing their respective nations nucl