It’s election season. Most people seem to fall into one of two groups: those who enjoy all things election-related, and those who hate them or don’t pay attention to them. I’m definitely in the former group; always have been.
Johnson was President when I was born, but Nixon is the first President I really remember. I would have just turned 4 when he was elected. Being so young, I didn’t really know his positions on the issues, but I liked him. Our family liked him. We had gone to visit the spot where his mother had lived as a child, which was not far from our hometown. Once someone asked me what was so great about Nixon. I remember asking my dad, who said, “He normalized relations with China.” So, I repeated that, although I had no idea what it meant. I’m still not real clear on it.
But anyway, Nixon was a positive figure in our household. One night, in August 1974, when I was nine, my mom said we all had to watch TV. I can’t remember if she had told me why or not, but evidently I knew that something big was going down. I decided to commemorate the occasion with an original bit of embroidery.
I planned to embroider “Pres. Nixon” at the top, then below that (inexplicably) a fish, and at the bottom, the date: August 9, 1974. I can tell this was important to me, as evidenced by the fact that I cut out the fabric with the revered pinking shears. And evidently, President Nixon didn’t speak nearly long enough — because I never finished.
I had heard about Watergate. I, perhaps, had a vague idea about the happenings. But still, it seemed wrong that these events led to President Nixon resigning. His wife and daughters looked so tragic, standing behind him. Years later, I wrote Nixon a letter, telling him about how much I had respected him. I felt sure this letter would be so moving to him that he would respond — but he never did. Instead, my vision of Nixon would always be the memory of that speech, and also the fuzzy half-image of him in a car, in a parade where we had gone to see him. Unless Trump wins, I guess Nixon is the only living President I have seen in person.
I would go on to see another President impeached (I remember watching that on TV), and another candidate who erased far more than 18 1/2 minutes of tape, yet who would be widely expected in the press to be elected. President Nixon must be turning in his grave.
How about you? Do you remember watching Nixon resign?