Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas


If you are watching your mail box or front door for our cards and gifts this year, we respectfully request that you enjoy the realization that a donation has been made, in lieu of our annual cards, to the Docent Guild at the Richard Nixon Presidential Foundation. They are an amazing, dedicated and knowledgeable group of volunteers that make the RN Library and Birthplace a very special place.


and all the


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, all around Coyote Base. We've decorated our tree, it's red white and blue. Full of flags, some that I quilted, and patriotic ornaments all about the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace. The "Birthplace Ornament" holds a special place of honor.

Tricia Nixon Cox, her husband Ed and son Christoper sent us, Christmas at the White House by Jennifer B. Pickens. It's a beautiful coffee table book with reflections from the Kennedy to the Bush 43 White House Christmases. Mrs. Nixon adored Christmas and was known for the beautiful decorations during the Christmases she was in the White House.

Writing in 1969, a Time magazine reporter observed: "Few presidential couples . . . have gone at the Christmastime merrymaking with quite the gusto of Richard and Pat Nixon. For the holidays they have peopled the place with choirs, Bob Hope, the Apollo 12 astronauts and more than 6,000 other Americans, renowned and unknown."

The Walker family proudly numbered 5 unknowns among the 6,000 invited guests. In anticipation of this memorable party, I made our three little girls, then 8,7,and 6, blue velvet dresses with white, lace trimmed collars. Their outfits were complemented by white tights and brand new, shiny maryjane patent leather shoes. When we were about ready to drive to the White House, they looked so adorable, that Ron insisted they have their pictures taken outside with the pine trees as a festive backdrop. During the process of posing, Marja took time out to climb an inviting tree limb, cut herself, and then proceeded to bleed all over her white collar. So much for a motherly vision of precious, angelic little girls going to a White House Christmas party.

Mrs. Nixon is credited with introducing more holiday customs than any of the first ladies preceding her. In 1969 she started the holiday tradition of candlelight evening tours. She said she wanted sightseers to see the mansions beautiful public rooms, "so filled with history, and now aglow with the magic and spirit of Christmas." White House candlelight tours are still very popular. Another anticipated event is the unveiling of the gingerbread house in the State Dining Room. The White House chef creates a new, completely edible one each year.

Another of Mrs. Nixon's holiday innovations was to showcase Christmas cards and artifacts from past presidencies. A 1866 edition of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," that President Franklin Roosevelt always read aloud to his family on Christmas eve. Another was a small fire engine that President Hoover gave to his secretary's son, as a memento of a fire in the West Wing the year before. Another artifact on display was a large dollhouse, made for ten year old Fanny Hays, daughter of President Rutherford Hays, by the White House carpenter in 1877. Mrs. Nixon liked it so much that it was on display all year and today it can be seen at the Hays Presidential Center.

In 1971 it was Mrs. Nixon's request that disabled workers be given the opportunity to make the Christmas ornaments. "State balls" were made for each of the 50 states. First ladies have continued the tradition of the state balls, and Laura Bush took the tradition a wonderful step further, by highlighting each of our National Parks as part of the state balls collection. Even in years when the state balls were left packed away, the First Lady will often commission new ornaments to represent all fifty states, continuing the tradition inspired by Mrs. Nixon. In 1971 she told an interviewer, "I suppose of all the places we've spent Christmas, the White House must be our favorite."

Thank you Tricia, Ed and Christoper for a thoughtful and beautiful gift.

When President Nixon appointed Ron to be the Eighth Director of the National Park Service, I made a special request. It had bothered me to see that the National Christmas Tree on the mall was one that was cut down and trucked to Washington each year. I thought it would be a grand idea to plant one on the mall. A permanent National Christmas tree. Secretary of the Interior, Rogers C. B. Morton thought it was such a good idea that he took full credit for the innovation. I'm OK with that, because our permanent National Christmas Tree came to be. I'm proud of "my beautiful Christmas tree" on the National mall and delight in watching the "Pageant of Peace" tree lighting ceremony each year on live television. The Walker family attended the event one year when Ron was Director. It was a freezing, but festive ceremony. Another year I was on hand when First Lady Barbara Bush rode a cherry picker basket to put the finishing decorations on the top of the tree. One great and gutsy girl, that "Bar."

In 1972, Mrs. Nixon chose the theme "Nature's Bounty" and the White House decorations were done in Della Robbia style. She told reporters that she had always liked Della Robbia wreaths, in which real fruits are mixed with greenery and pine cones, and for years had given them to friends as Christmas gifts. My mother did the very same thing. We always had Della Robbia wreaths in our home at Christmas, and we gave them as gifts, perhaps it was originally a California thing.

As 2009 comes to an end, we pray for our country. We pray for the current President and his family as they prepare for their first White House Christmas. Carved in the mantel of the State Dining Room fireplace, surely decked in festive holiday tradition as I write this, is the inscription written by John Adams: "I pray Heaven to Bestow the Best of Blessings on THIS HOUSE and on All that shall hereafter Inhabit it. May none but honest and Wise Men rule under this roof."

Let us all add an AMEN to the prayer of President John Adams.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Presidential Libraries

QUESTION: What city is a small stone?

ANSWER: Little Rock.
QUESTION: Who threw a little rock in the Arkansas River and the ripples caused a multi-million dollar downtown economic development to erupt?
ANSWER: Bill Clinton.

Ron and I were in Little Rock to attend a meeting of Presidential Library leaders at the Clinton Presidential Center. It is located in the downtown River Market District. The Presidential Library and Museum, within the Clinton Presidential Center and Park, includes the Clinton Foundation (Little Rock office) and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. They also have a Great Hall which seats 250 that can be used for special events. The surrounding 30 acre park replaced an industrial site of old, run-down warehouses. Hearing that, reminded me that the JFK Library site was once a landfill-dump that huge rats called home. Today it is a beautiful and dramatic ocean side site.

Thirteen libraries are part of the organization and only two were not represented at the meeting, due to scheduling conflicts, Reagan and Carter. The exchange of information was both interesting and helpful.

You may remember that President Clinton announced that his Library would be a "bridge to the 21st century". It does resemble a classic covered bridge, only it is made of steel and glass. The top floor, overlooking the river, is an elegant, two-bedroom apartment. The first evening, we had an amazing five course dinner in the apartments library. Actually a library within a library. We were told that the President stays there on an average of twice a month. His may be the only Presidential Library with an in-house award winning chef. Jacob Peck, executive chef to Forty-two, recently won the Arkansas Iron Chef competition. There is also a restaurant, "Forty-two," with an outside dining area on the river. It is only open for lunch and Sunday brunch.

The next morning we began a full day of meetings. Bruce Lindsey, Chairman and CEO of the Clinton Library, graciously invited me to be a part of the gathering. I had been very hopeful I would be able to attend the meeting. Years of having to do "separate spouse tours" really bugged me. I always wanted to be a part of the real thing, not off shopping and touring while the good stuff, the reason we were there in the first place, was happening. So, thanks Bruce Lindsey, for allowing me to sit in on the good stuff. Stephanie Streett is the Clinton Foundation executive director and she was President Clinton's scheduler for eight years.

We stayed at the Capital Hotel. That's not a mis-spelling, it was named because it was a "capital idea" for the capitol city. It recently went through a major renovation and it's a beautiful property. Four stories high, with marble columns, wide staircases and lots of lovely and inviting areas to sit and read, or just enjoy the ambiance. The stained glass ceiling in the atrium has the Arkansas State Capitol, a replica of our nation's Capitol, in the center of the design. The rich, elegant Christmas decorations made the hotel look and smell even more amazing. The elevator has a fascinating story to tell. The car itself is at least three times the width of a normal elevator. The story told is that it was built to accommodate Ulysses S. Grant and his horse, Cincinnati, during his 1880 visit. In a space to the left of the elevator is a boutique, but it was originally the ladies entrance to the Capital Hotel. Wishing to avoid the lobby, ladies of the 19th century could discreetly enter and make their way to the parlor and balcony on the Mezzanine to enjoy tea with their friends.

Now that the Nixon Library has become part of the National Archives, after 17 years of independence, it was interesting to hear the other libraries share their experiences. The federal government owns the documents, so the archivist controls them and that part of the library that houses them. Foundations want to further their President's legacy. The archivists want to present the administrations total picture for all to see and study. Here-in lies the basic conflict, sometimes adversarial, often more on the cordial side, but always interesting. Each institution expressed dedication to strive for collegiality with their on-site government employees. And each is proud to be playing the role of financial support group to NARA.

I think it can be assumed that libraries with still living ex-presidents get a little more flexibility from the government than do those whose presidents are gone. It may not be true in all cases, but it seems to be pretty apparent. Modern day Presidents raise the funds to build their own buildings. Without these efforts the libraries would not have been built across America, and their individual records and archives would most likely be housed in huge warehouses in a central location. Think College Park, Maryland. The ability to raise funds for older libraries dries up with time and when their constituencies aren't around to maintain the condition of the aging buildings. Lack of federal funding is of great concern to many historical buildings and collections.

The Foundations would really like to see an organized Presidential Library Congressional Caucus to advocate for additional legislation and funding for the changing nature of records management in the preservation and accessibility of presidential records and American history.

The National Archives was established in 1934 and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The new head archivist, nominated by President Obama in July and confirmed by the Senate on November 6, is David S. Ferriero (rhymes with stereo), the first librarian to hold the post. He says he has 10 billion things to worry about. His objects of worry include the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and of course, all the Presidential papers. Ron was one of the first library foundation heads to reach out for him and they will soon be meeting face to face.

The proliferation of electronic government records and how they should be preserved is a big issue that the new head archivist faces. It is estimated that President Obama's presidential papers will be 80 percent electronic, something that the Nixon Presidential papers-people did not have to worry about. But, one can not help but wonder if we would have had more access to them in that format, instead of them being secreted away in College Park, guarded and hidden from the president and the other people who created them. The only access to papers was when the archives were about to release some of them. At that time, the archives would notify members of the administration whose names were about to be made public.

Now that is all about to change at the Nixon library. A wing has been built to house the papers, and truck loads of documents are scheduled to begin arriving any day now. The archivist are preparing to be overwhelmed by the load that is coming. Their aim is to have them all available on the internet at some later date. No small task, obviously. At the JFK library, AT&T offered to scan all of their documents and provide internet access to them. They are working feverishly, but the endeavor has proved to be more daunting than anyone envisioned.

The National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) Presidential Libraries include: Herbert Hoover Library, West Branch, IA, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY, Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, MO, Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene,KS, John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston, MA, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, Austin, TX, Richard Nixon Library and Foundation, Yorba Linda, CA, Gerald R Ford Library and Museum, Ann Arbor, MI and Grand Rapids, MI, Jimmy Carter Library, Atlanta, GA, Ronald Reagan Library, Simi Valley, CA, George Bush Library, College Station, TX, and William J. Clinton Library in Little Rock, AR. Soon to be added to the system is the George W. Bush Library on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Mark Langdale, the GWB Foundation President, is working on the fundraising and plans for that Library.

Locations of other Presidential papers include collections in the Library of Congress and various libraries and historical societies around the nation. I was very interested to learn that numerous collections of presidential papers are in the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California, an almost annual field trip destination during my school days. If anyone told our classes about the Presidential papers, I've long forgotten they were there, but I do remember the beautiful gardens, the peacocks and Thomas Gainsborough's paintings of Blue Boy and Pinkie. The Huntington also has a Chinese garden, something we hope to do at the Nixon Library. I want to go and see it. My brother, Rob, said he'd meet me there. He lives in Simi Valley, near the Reagan Presidential Library. A visit to the Huntington Library, near where we grew up, is on the to-do list right after the holidays.

On a more personal note, it is fun to report that Lynne and Barry are here with their two dachshunds, Jackson Hole and Teton Spirit. Kodai and Lulubelle are excited to have their "cousins" visiting again. Now, there is a herd of dachshunds running around Coyote Base, doing "puppy burns" up the front staircase, down the long hall way to Marja's suite, and down the back stairs, and then skidding across the marble floors in the "state rooms." It's hilarious and keeps us all laughing. They bark at the bunnies on the back hill, neighbors walking on Winners Circle, cars going around the circle, and the owl that sits on the peak of our roof and salivates at the sight of them. We look forward to having our grandsons and Lisa join us on Lynne's birthday, December 26th. They will not be bringing their two Rhodesian ridgebacks.

Our luminaries light up the front yard beside the American flag, white lights twinkle on the balcony, the tree is waiting to be decorated. It will be a red, white and blue Christmas tree and theme for us here in Yorba Linda. We salute President Nixon and his legacy with all things patriotic. God Bless all of you during this wonderful time of year, God Bless the President, and may God continue to Bless America.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Lulubelle enjoying the view aboard "Moss One."
During this special holiday, dedicated to blessings, we are reminded to think about them. We count the many ways that we are blessed. A good and generous God, our faith and grace, family members to love and cherish, dear and special friends, pets that love us unconditionally, wonderful memories that make us smile, medical miracles that heal us, and beautiful places that re-charge our batteries.
My Blessings overwhelm me. My Blessings bury me in goodness. I love the song that reminds us to count our blessings instead of sheep and "you'll fall asleep, counting your blessings. That's a good thing and something we should remember to do every single night when we crawl into bed.

We received an amazing, unexpected, never-even-dreamed about, blessing at the beginning of Thanksgiving week. We got an e-mail from dear friends, Dianne and Bill Moss. They suggested we might like to use their jet-share and go to Jackson Hole for a few days. We were surprised, overjoyed, excited, and mostly blessed by their thoughtful and most generous kindness.

We hadn't seen our little cowboy cabin, dubbed "The Director's Cabin" since mid-summer. It was here that Ron talked to Kris Elftmann, Nixon Foundation Chairmen, multiple times each day about the process of doing a search. Then when Kris began to ask Ron about the possibility of him assuming the Presidency of the Foundation, we talked about how we better "bank some rest" if we were going to prepare to take on such a daunting task.

Dianne and Bill Moss have visited the Director's Cabin many times. They knew how much we love being in the shadow of the Grand Tetons. To sit and watch the sun light and shadows dance across the jagged peaks, chasing wisps of clouds in an endless, changing tapestry is a most relaxing way to spend time.
When the first rays of the morning sun hit the top of the Grand, it shines bright pink and gradually changes to softer golds and yellows as it moves down the range. It usually spends the day in shades of gray with white and evergreen highlights, but sometimes the hand of the howling wind snatches it away completely. When we first started coming here, I liked to say that I was going to get a Doctorate in Teton Viewing. The plan was to spend the hours needed to earn an advanced degree, quietly sitting and staring at its beauty. I think I've done it. Dianne and Bill thought, but more likely knew, we might like to have a quick visit to re-charge ourselves again. What a gift. What a blessing.
Marja, Kodai and Lulubelle, Ron and I, took off Thanksgiving morning from John Wayne airport's Atlantic Terminal in a seven-seater jet. Kodai, did the classic double-take, when he looked out the window and realized the ground was way down below him. Lulubell found the view mesmerizing. What a way to travel. We all agreed, we could sure get used to that!
As the Teton's came into view, plane side, we all took pictures. Even the pilots.

The old reliables, Michelle and Bill Arnold, had our car waiting at the airport for us. Keys under the floor mat. It only takes an e-mail, and the old reliables get the job done, even on a holiday morning. On-site manager, Ron, had turned up the heat and made sure the water heater switch was flipped. Our on-call, as needed, housekeeper, JoAnne had popped in to see if dusting or cobweb getting was needed. More blessings from special people.
We talked about the ways we could have Thanksgiving Dinner the evening of our arrival, but our little Golf and Tennis Club was closed until early December. Even the good old stand-by Dornan's in Moose was going to be closed. Then another Blessing came our way. Pat and Homer Luther invited us to join their family for a Thanksgiving Feast. Those of you that have experienced Homer and Pat's culinary expertise know how great an opportunity this was. Great home-made bloody marys, wine before the wine (Homer's description), and THE wine with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Pat's family favorite, chocolate fudge pecan pie was the perfect cap-stone to a delicious holiday dinner with pals whose friendships go back to the days of our children's childhoods. The view from their work-of-art house, atop Riva Ridge is always a treat to see again.

We cooked our traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday and also feasted on lots of football, especially seeing Arizona win the Territorial Cup from rival Arizona State. (I spent college-day Thanksgiving weekends as a pom-pom girl at that very game.) It was sunny and cold outside, and cozy inside with delicious smells warming the little cabin. A beautiful fox came trotting down the road Sunday morning, hunting his breakfast, as Ron was cooking bacon, eggs and toast for us.

Somehow I missed mentioning a blessing on my Nixon Connection blog. Perhaps because it was really meant to be a part of my Blessings blog. Our friendship with Shelley Scarney and Pat Buchanan go back to early Nixon days. We went to their wedding. During Geoff Shepard's Domestic council gathering, they had a dinner party for at least 80 of the faithful. It was such a huge event, they had to tent their back yard so everyone could have a place at the table. Ron and I sat with Lynne and Dick Cheney and had a good chance to get caught up with them. Too many wonderful, long-time friends were there. I wish I could name them all, but I decided to not even try. Comraderie and a delicious dinner were enjoyed by everyone.

The long-time, Buchanan McLean home is a beautiful, charming house, amid the trees. Their grounds are adjacent to the CIA. Kristine and Gordon Strachan got turned around and found themselves inside the fence at the CIA. Really a no-no, evidently. They said it was easy to get in, but a real hassle to get back out. Since they now live in Utah, they were driving their god-daughter's car. Oops. Sure hope that being in the CIA data bank doesn't cause her heartburn every time she shops in Tyson's Corner.

Now we prepare to head back to Coyote Base tomorrow, Monday. "Moss One" will depart Jackson Hole at ten am. We HAVE re-charged our batteries, thanks to the thoughtfulness of Dianne and Bill. Thank you's are not enough, but heartfelt in every way.

Tuesday morning early we will fly to the Clinton Library in Little Rock. You can see why we get tired keeping up such a pace. Ron will join his counterparts from the other Presidential Libraries for a meeting. It should be an interesting get together, and the subject of my next blog. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Turkey Has Landed

On his first Thanksgiving in the White House, November 27, 1969, President Nixon told a group of senior citizens, “In our family we always had Thanksgiving as a family day. We have in the past, and we do now. Our parents cannot be here now, but we wanted people who have been with this Nation for so many years, who have lived good lives, to be here as our guests today. We feel that you are part of our family and we invite you here as part of our family, The White House family, the American family."

"You have seen the menu. It is the usual, of course. Turkey and all the things that go with it, and pumpkin pie for dessert. Seeing turkey on the menu reminds me that when this country began, Benjamin Franklin argued that the National Bird should be a turkey rather than an eagle. Now, I think he was a very wise man, but the final decision to have the eagle was a better one. When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, it would have sounded rather funny to say, 'The turkey has landed.' And today I think you will all agree you would not want to eat eagle."

Would you like to have an authentic Nixon Family Thanksgiving Dinner? The Republican Cookbook, with Recipes for Political Success," The Brownstone Press, Inc., 1969 lists the following:

Mrs. Nixon’s Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
Crabmeat bisque
(served with corn sticks)
Roast turkey with celery dressing
Candied sweet potatoes
Tiny onions in cream
Fresh broccoli with lemon butter
Mold of fresh cranberry jelly
Iced celery and black olives
Sage biscuits
Pumpkin pie
Here are some of Mrs. Nixon's recipes for you to try:

1 cup fresh, lump crab meat
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup cream
Saute’ shallots in butter until soft. (Do not brown.) Add flour and stir until mixture is very smooth and flour is well cooked but not browned. Add crab meat and stir. Add milk, salt paprika, and cream and cook over very low heat until thickened. Keep warm by letting stand over hot water. If desired, the bisque may be garnished with finely chopped chives. Serves six.
1 quart dry bread crumbs. (Lightly toast slices or chunks of dry bread and crumble)
¼ cup melted butter
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ tablespoon poultry seasoning
¾ cup finely chopped onion
1 cup diced celery
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 egg
Mix all ingredients except the egg in a large bowl. Beat the egg and fold into the dressing mixture. If a moist dressing is preferred, add cold water a few drops at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Stuff the turkey with the dressing or bake in a buttered casserole until brown.

1 ½ cups cooked canned pumpkin (If home cooked, put through strainer)
1 ½ cups cream
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup dark corn syrup
4 eggs slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 nine-inch unbaked pie shell
Combine brown sugar, white sugar, salt, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Alternately stir small amounts of cream and the dry mixture into the pumpkin until the whole mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in syrup, eggs, and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into unbaked pie shell and bake in preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake pie until firm or until silver knife, inserted into center of pie, comes out clean. Cool and serve with whipped cream.

Today, we are just like those senior citizens in 1969, invited to share Thanksgiving traditions with the Nixon Legacy, represented here at the Richard Nixon Presidential Foundation. All of us here, and especially the Walker family, wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving.
We plan to spend the holiday counting our many blessings and enjoying a delicious turkey dinner. Our blessings include the many friendships and opportunities we enjoy because of the Nixon family, and the many doors they opened for us. May God continue to Bless America and give our leaders wisdom. . . . and may God Bless all of you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More Nixon Connections

We left Coyote Base (actually we should have dubbed it "Coyote Hole" since we have to walk outside and look straight up to see the sky) and spent a few days in Tucson. It was good to check on the place and tend to some business. Then we flew to Washington, DC, where the Nixon Connections occur on a regular basis. Like wheels among wheels, they come together, separate for awhile, and join up again. It's quite amazing, exciting, heartwarming and fun!

Ron and I flew to Washington a few days early so we could attend a "Celebration of Life" gathering for Bill Safire at the University Club. The Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist was eulogized by such luminaries as Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Ann Dore McLaughlin Korologos, Daniel Schorr, Judith Miller, Marvin Kalb, Charles Krauthammer, Rahm Emanuel was scheduled but did a no-show, Donald Rumsfeld, Patrick Leahy, and Bill's daughter, Annabel Safire. Reading the names, you can just imagine what an amazing tribute it was. We like to think of Bill as one of "our own," but he became much larger than just a Presidential speech writer. He won his Pulitzer for distinguished commentary and was the most widely read writer about the English language, with his column "On Language" in the New York Times Magazine and in newspapers around the world. His books are too numerous to count

We walked from the JW Marriott to the University Club. The wind felt really cold to a couple of western desert rat/beach bums, but we braved the elements and enjoyed seeing so many friends. It was a fitting turn out.

President Nixon's Domestic Policy Staff gets together every November, to reminisce, celebrate and/or commiserate if it happens to be an election year. These gatherings have been organized by Geoff Shepard for many years and Ron has been an "honorary member" for a long time. He describes it this way: he blew up balloons and painted hand signs and made sure all these policy makers and lofty thinker-types found their seats in motorcades, helicopters and on Air Force One. It's a pretty accurate description. They always gather after the luncheon for a group photo and John Whitaker, aka Cheers, is usually in the front row wearing white socks. He was absent this year because he was somewhere on the Nile River.

Luncheon is always followed by a series of speakers. This year, one of the speakers was James Rosen, author of "The Strong Man" a biography of John Mitchell, and a Fox News correspondent. His talk was riveting, but my favorite line was his telling the gathering of Nixon administration aides, that it was their job to "rescue the caricature of Richard Nixon." I had not thought of it in those terms, but it is an apt description of exactly what we are trying to do. He is not ONLY the Herblock pen and ink drawings of exaggerated jowls, five o'clock shadows and sinister sneers. Not by a long shot.

When President Nixon appointed Ron as the 8th Director of the National Park Service, he fired George Hartzog. It was a shock to everyone in the service. George had been there since 1964. He was a legend, and enjoyed more clout on capitol hill than most people in the capitol city. George and Helen Hartzog were gracious and good to us from the very beginning. The first thing they did was have a huge party for us at the National Capitol Parks headquarters. Rangers from all over the area came to meet us, but probably the main reason they came was to tell George and Helen how much they would be missed.

In 2006, George and Clemson University awarded Ron the George B. Hartzog, Jr. Environmental, Walter T. Cox Award, "for sustained achievement in public service providing leadership in administration of public lands and for policy formation affecting our natural and cultural resources".

Ron was honored, but there was more to the plan than we first realized. George asked Ron if he would "Chair" the proposed Hartzog Institute for National Parks. It would be housed at Clemson in South Carolina. Ron accepted the challenge. The next couple of years were frustrating. One step forward usually resulted in several steps backward. People questioned motives and jockeyed for organizational positions. The memorandum of understanding was dissected, massaged and manipulated. Dean Larry Allen at Clemson hung in and refused to walk, when lesser men would have given up on all the factions that vied for positioning. Ron was ready to walk several times too, but he would always say that he couldn't quit. He had promised George. George Hartzog died knowing he had an Institute, but he did not see the Board of Directors appointed and the Inaugural meeting take place on Wednesday, November 11, 2009.

Dayton Duncan was this years featured speaker. His collaboration with Ken Burns for "National Parks, America's best idea" is a fantastic book and TV series. In his remarks, Dayton said that the first two Director's of the National Park Service, Stephen Mather and Horace Albright, were the Washington and Jefferson on the Mount Rushmore of National Parks. He said Stuart Udall was the Lincoln, and he went on to talk about the reason he felt this was true.

After his remarks, he walked by Ron and told him, "you were the Teddy Roosevelt." We decided it was a very flattering and generous bit of hyperbole from Mr. Duncan.

The bottom line is that there is now a Hartzog Institute for National Parks at Clemson University and Ron kept his promise to George.

The campus of Clemson University is beautiful. Lakes, trees, rolling hills and gorgeous views are everywhere. "The Walker" golf course is on campus and of course we had to visit the pro-shop and buy some shirts. Larry and Barb Allen, and Brett and Judy Wright were wonderful hosts and we enjoyed some great restaurants, topped off by the final nights feast at the Allen's home.

We came back to Coyote Base (Hole?) tired, but also energized at how much had been accomplished in a relatively short time. Marja, our house/dog manager, had chicken-sour cream enchiladas, and re-fried black beans waiting for us. How wonderful and special is that? The weekend was spent re-charging our batteries, and by Monday, we were ready to roll once more. I volunteered in the Museum gift shop and we kicked off the "Festival of Trains" that evening. Calling all train buffs, and kids of all ages, you don't want to miss this. There was a huge turnout, and Ruby's Diner served their famous sliders. YUM!

GramAnne aside: When I first started this blog, it was mostly to just record and write about stuff that was fun, especially the wit and wisdom of grandsons Hugh and Jake Hart. When Ron flunked retirement and the girls asked me to "blog" about our involvement with the Nixon Foundation, it took on a more serious purpose. But . . . . please allow me a little detour now and then: The Hart family was watching, "Dancing with the Stars," and Michael Buble was singing. Jake, 6 years old, said, "He sounds just like that old guy GranGran listens to, you know, that Frank guy."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What does "Nixonian" mean?

It seems to me that we are hearing the term "Nixonian" used more often these days. Most recently when TV pundits were talking about the Obama Administrations criticism of Fox News. They talked a great deal about the Obama folks having an enemies list and how they were acting very "Nixonian." I know they weren't being complimentary when they said it.

I asked our in-house expert about this, the wonderful and wise Frank Gannon, and he had some interesting historic facts about the "enemies list." It was originally a September 9, 1971 memo to John Dean, from Chuck Colson. It contained only 20 names. Mostly the reason they were on the list is because they were very, vocally, anti-Nixon. Dean took that original list and expanded it to over 200 names, mostly made up of people who were against the Vietnam war. He, Dean, has said publicly that he didn't think President Nixon knew about the list. Then it surfaced during the "Watergate" hearings. Today, we are lead to believe the President wrote it himself. That is unfair and wrong.

I have often referred to myself as a "Nixonian Republican" and I never considered that I was being unkind to myself when I used that description. My parents were life-long Republicans and my mother was proud to describe herself as a "Civil Righter." Then, President Nixon's leadership also shaped me and how I think. I AM a more moderate Republican than many of our party members today and using the term just meant exactly that. My more conservative friends don't seem to hold it against me. There should be room for both mind-sets in our party. Wise counsel told us that we should agree to disagree agreeably!

I went on Wikipedia to see what their description of "Nixonian" might be. What I read was very interesting. First of all, "one never self-identifies as a Nixonian."

Oh my, what about me? I even have a button that my daughter Marja made for me that says, "Proud Nixonian Republican." I must admit that when I wore it at the 1988 RNC convention, certain folks looked at me like I had a communicable disease!

The description goes on to say, "The term is most frequently used by Republicans to attack self-described moderates; when used by Democrats it is more apt to be used in the context of the Watergate scandal and the suggestion of Republican corruption."

OK, we already knew about that and live with it everyday here at the Richard Nixon Presidential Foundation.

More from Wikipedia: "This moniker is based upon the administration of Richard Nixon, who ran in 1968 and 1972 as a conservative, only to enact unprecedented amounts of new regulations and government agencies, and expand federally provided social services. Among those were the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, implementation of price and wage controls to try to reduce inflation, and an unsuccessful attempt to provide a guaranteed minimum income to taxpayers."

Hey! Isn't this the Legacy we want everyone to know about? Now that's NIXONIAN, and it's a good thing.

I've been spending some time as a volunteer in the Museum Shop at the Library. It is fun and a great opportunity to chat with visitors and find out why they chose to visit. Their reasons are overwhelmingly positive and that's heartwarming to hear. Last week I looked up from the cash register to see John and Marilyn Wilbur walking toward me. We were classmates at the University of Arizona and Marilyn and I were Delta Gamma Pledge sisters in the spring of 1956. What could be more fun than that? After they toured the Library, they said they "had forgotten what a great President he was." So, it seems, have a heck of a lot of other people. That's the mission ahead as I see it: remind the people and focus on the Legacy of the 37th President of the United States.

Tell me what you think. How should we work to take back the Nixonian label? Maybe the RN Foundation web-site could have a "Nixonian Moment," or "Nixonianisms of Note" posted now and then. I for one would love to see it become a description to be proud of again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Birthplace

The Birthplace of the 37th President of the United States.

This precious, one and a half story, house is where the first baby in Yorba Linda, California was born. It was January 9, 1913. The baby, the second son of Frank and Hannah Nixon, was named Richard.

The Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace is a special place in so many ways, and the little house is the gem in the setting. "The Birthplace," will be 100 years old soon. Frank Nixon, the President's father built it from a kit in 1912, on the grounds of his citrus farm. In 1959, to honor Richard Nixon's forty-sixth birthday, the townspeople and the school board designated it a historic site, and it now has National Historic Landmark status.

It truly is a step back to the days of young Richard's boyhood because the furnishings are about 90 percent original. The story told is that when Richard Nixon was first elected to Congress from the district that included the home, his brother Don's wife, Clara Jane saw the historic significance that his election represented and put the furnishings from the little house in storage to ensure their safekeeping. The house was sold soon after.

A great deal of restoration work on the house was done to get ready for the opening of the Library in 1990. The work included the installation of security and sprinkler systems. The original furnishings and artifacts that belonged to Frank and Hannah Nixon were brought home too.

I have a vivid memory of the President reminiscing during the opening of the Library. He said he remembered often waking up in the early morning to the sound of a spoon beating on a mixing bowl, right underneath his window. He said his mother always said that the clear, cool, early morning air made her cakes taste so much better. Hannah Nixon baked pies and cakes to sell in the nearby store, and she also worked at packing lemons and oranges for shipment.

Many of Hannah's other cooking utensils are also in the tiny kitchen. The piano that young Richard played, is in the small living room. Until recently, his violin sat atop the piano, but it has now gone on tour as part of the "Presidential Instruments" special exhibit. The stairs that aren't even 12 inches wide, lead up to a small bedroom, shared by three little boys. A beautiful Pepper tree towers over the house. It was planted by Frank himself. When it became impossible to earn a living from a citrus farm, the family moved to Whittier in 1922. Brother Ed was born when Richard was nine.

Richard entered Whittier College when he was seventeen. He represented Whittier in over 50 debates, winning most of them. He was a born leader and held many offices including president of the freshman class and student body president. Years later he would be remembered for two accomplishments: dancing and the annual bonfire. He convinced the college-powers-that-be to lift the ban on dancing because the students would be safer dancing on the campus than going to the "dens of iniquity in Los Angeles". During his junior year, he was chairman of the annual bonfire. The bonfire took place on a mound of earth called fire hill. The custom was for everyone in the student body to pile things to be burned on the mound for days. The chairman was responsible for putting the last item on the top, and his status as a leader of men was judged by the size of the outhouse he could mid-night requisition for the crown. In most years the bonfire was topped by a one-holer. Occasionally, a really outstanding chairman would manage to find a two-holer. In 1933, according to Steve Hess and Earl Mazo, in NIXON, a political Portrait," Richard Nixon established a record that still stands. He produced a four-holer.

It is interesting to read in the same book that Richard Nixon classified himself as a "liberal" in college, "but not a flaming liberal." Recently I heard a TV pundit refer to him as our last Republican "liberal president."

It's well worth a trip to Yorba Linda just to see the birthplace of the 37th President of the United States. President Nixon personally requested that the porch light remain on at all times, to tell everyone they were welcome to visit. Marja and I plan on doing a plein-aire painting of the birthplace very soon. Hers in acrylic and mine in watercolor. Our small way of saying Happy 100th Birthday to a true American treasure.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mao, Now, and Me

You may be aware of the current dust-up at the Richard Nixon Library. The archives Director and twelve Chinese people want the statue of Chairman Mao removed from the Hall of Leaders. Mainly because he was a mass murderer and a communist.

That's hardly new news about Chairman Mao. Certainly President Nixon knew these things when he chose him to be included with the other World Leaders that he worked with during his Presidency. It just seems to me that folks shouldn't be allowed to come along twenty years later and decide they don't want things to be the way the President, whose name is on the door, wanted them to be. They are wrong to insist on trying to change history.

The other nine leaders who have statues in the room probably weren't perfect either. But each of those chosen by President Nixon, shaped the history of their time, for good or bad. It's the way it was. It would be wrong to remove any of them now, because a few folks don't approve of what they did. As it is, the Director of the Archives saw fit to put a sign in the gallery that reads, "The presence of the statues in this gallery does not imply that the United States government, which has operated this museum since July 2007, takes a position on their legacies"

OK, but why doesn't the piece of the Berlin Wall have a sign that says the government didn't approve of it's original intent, or a disclaimer by a photo of the Presidential party attending the Communist propaganda production of the "Red Detachment of Women," explaining that the government did not approve of China's cultural revolution? I suppose. . . .one could probably walk among the exhibits and find lots of areas to criticize. Actually, that's exactly what has been done. Several missing exibits have signs that say, "Exhibit Under Renovation."

Perhaps the most disturbing, is the poster that was put up 30 months ago, announcing that a new Watergate exhibit will be "coming soon". It features a picture of the Watergate building that looks like it is on fire. The symbolism for burning in hell, perhaps?

We know the Director believes that a presidential library should include all the people who were a part of that presidency. His way of explaining why he invited John Dean to speak on the anniversary of the Watergate break-in. Alright, but it seems to me, he can't have it both ways. Chairman Mao was a huge part of the Nixon presidency. The leader who invited President Nixon to visit his country in 1972. A visit that many consider to be President Nixon's greatest achievment. It was a historic moment. How in the world can he, Chairman Mao, not be a part of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rally the Troops Time

THE MISSION: Rally the Troops

We took JetBlue out of Long Beach Airport. Loved one, tolerated the other. First of all, you have to see Long Beach Airport to feel the time warp jolt. It's Olde California. Charming tile work, outdoor areas meander in an out of the really old and picturesque buildings. Remember back in the day what Santa Ana airport was like? That's still the feel at Long Beach. I loved it. I tolerated the non-stop flight to Dulles International Airport, stuck in a middle seat, but somewhat saved by DirecTV and XMradio on my very own little screen. They even had a SPA Music station and so I tried all the relaxation tricks taught to me by daughter, SpaLady Lynne.

Anyway, Ron and I, Chris Elftmann, RN Foundation Board Chairman, and Sandy Quinn, Foundation VP are off on our "Rally the Troops Tour." The Nixon Alumni have not been involved with the Library. What was the previous leadership thinking? These are the folks who lived it, who care the most about what REALLY happened, and should be shaping the message and direction it takes. So that's our mission for this trip.

The three guys met with the folks at the National Archives and the Nixon Center for International Study to spread the message about greater cooperation and the many exciting projects to come. A bunch of old Nixon pals will be brainstorming about ideas for projects, especially RN and PN's centennial birthdays and the 20th Anniversary Reunion at the Library.

I must put in a plea here for any Nixon Administration papers you might have. I know some of the alumni have wanted their papers housed elsewhere, but my thinking is this: If you lived it and helped shape it, you should be recognized for those efforts in perpetuity. Students and researchers a hundred years from now, and much longer, will be studying what happened and why. We are all proud of the accomplishements that were made, and I for one, want to make sure history gets it right. Leadership changes just like faces and personalities come and go, but the only lasting historical record is, and will be, and should be, the truth.

Ron went to the Chinese Embassy to pay his respects to the Ambassador. He took Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan's book on National Parks as a gift. He was met at the door of the beautiful NEW People's Republic of China embassy by two gentlemen, one wearing white gloves and carrying an umbrella, as it was raining lightly. The other man turned out to be the "note taker" during his visit. The Ambassador was in high school when President Nixon visited his country in 1972. After the meeting, Ron was escorted by the umbrella man again and when Ron said "schey, schey" and extended his hand, the umbrella man took off one white glove before shaking hands. The meeting room had great big, overstuffed furniture with doilies, beautiful, large tapestery wall hangings, and they served cups of jasmine tea. Isn't it amazing how perfectly predictable some things are?

I love the ambassador's card. It reads, "Zhou Wenzhong, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the United States of America."

The February Group gathering was great with a good turnout in Dave Parker's American Gas Association conference room. Lots of glass and class overlooking the Capitol. Dewey Clower, an original member of the first White House Advance Office, started the February group, as a way for us Nixon people to stay in touch. They met the first time in February (obviously) after President Nixon's resignation. Overtime it also became a time for Ford, Reagan and Bush-41 get togethers. It stopped meeting, I think sometime during the Clinton years. Steve Bull, Kay Bulow and Barbara McCaffrey are working hard to get it going again , and they are the perfect bunch of people to get the Richard Nixon Presidential Foundation revved up.

Ron spoke, then Chris and Sandy. Then Steve asked Jack Brennan, Ken Khachigian, and Frank Gannon to talk a little bit about what REALLY HAPPENED during the Frost/Nixon conversations. Jack said that the late night phone conversation never happened. When he challenged Ron Howard on it, the Director said, "Yea, I know, but it makes such a dramatic addition." He also said that he did hold up a sign that said, "Let him talk," but Frost yelled cut because he thought it said "Let us talk." Gucci shoes gift never happened either. But just like Oliver Stone's movies, future generations will think it's historically accurate instead of historic fiction.

We have found a great deal of enthusiasm and countless offers to help. So we are really excited.

I saw first hand what happened to charming, old, and historic Congressional Country Club. After my retirement from the Reagan Administration, I spent lots of time there with my 9-holers golfing buddies, and bowling in the basement during winter time. Good grief. They spent mega bucks and made it unrecognizable and HUGE. The long driveway leading up to the entrance, and the first glimpse of the old building, leads one to think it is the same place. What a shock to walk inside.

Then I visited my old friend, Ann Hand. If you aren't familiar with her wonderful jewelry, check her out online. ( She is famous now, worldwide. Her most recognizable piece is the Gold, ruby-eyed Eagle sitting on a large Pearl. I get compliments every time I wear mine, and if you start looking for it, you'll see it on Hillary, Nancy Pelosi, and just about every other high ranking lady in Washington. Ann's collection includes a lot of patriotic pieces and Sandy, Chris and I picked out a bunch of great pieces to sell in the Library Gift Shop. "Good Stuff", as Sandy likes to say.

The men also visited with Brian Lamb, Chairman and CEO of C-Span. Ron did not realize he had worked in the Nixon Administration. Mr. Lamb told him he had known of him forever, and was delighted to finally have an opportunity to meet. He said he would always be open to covering events involving the Nixon Foundation, and they discussed some ideas. Mr. Lamb was especially enthusiastic about getting a group of Advance Men to reminisce and talk about their experiences. Ron says that back in the beginning, when he established the very first White House Advance Office, because President Nixon wanted the function "legitemized" instead of continuing to be hidden in the various government agencies, they were "silent warriors" with a passion for anonimity. That is not the case today.

Later they had lunch with Richard Norton Smith, perhaps the most famous Presidential Library leader and planner of our time. Somehow he makes me think he is the Dominique Dunn of Museums and Libraries.

Friday night we gathered for a no-host dinner in the Flag Room at Smith and Wollensky's, the site of so many special gatherings and events. Lots of old pals having a good time just being together.

We took the train to New York and had dinner with our special pals, Don and Ginny Vinson. They are on TDY at Sloan Kettering while both Ginny and son, Mark, receive cancer treatment. We needed some face time and hugs with them during this very difficult time in their lives and we continue to offer up prayers and blessings for them.

New York City was on overloaded grid lock. President Obama's presence at the United Nations, plus over 100 other heads of state, made things more chaotic than ever, and New York is never very normal. We were on the 33rd floor, and our hotel was hosting the Chinese delegation, plus the presidential helicopter crew members, and probably a lot of other folks that we weren't told about. All night long, something banged and thumped. We couldn't figure out what could be happening. Then we learned that it was the Fitness Center on the 35th floor, where people were lifting weights and working out. We guess that security folks, who have to stay in top physical condition, and work in rotating shifts, work out at any hour of the day or night. That was either the source of the constant banging, or the hotel is haunted by former UN members and diplomats spending eternity banging their heads against the wall.

On Monday we had lunch with Tricia Nixon Cox, her husband Ed, and son Christoper. Tricia is very supportive and grateful that Ron has agreed to serve the Foundation at this time. Ed is now the New York Republican State Chairman, a post he said he won because Christoper was his campaign manager. Christoper is a very impressive young man, and admitted he wants to run for office someday. Of course he does, it's in his DNA!

That evening Sandy and Mike McManus met us at Buddakahns for dinner. It's a "nouveau asian" eatery, dark, and almost dungeon-like. We feasted on lots of interesting delicacies, my favorite being the Peking duck. Yum. We always have a special time with Sandy and Mike.

Tuesday, Ron spent some time with Roger Ailes, President and CEO of Fox News. We had dinner with our wonderful long-time friends Warren and Sunny Adler at one of their New York clubs. A place where authors and literary leaders like to gather. The city was so congested, that we hired a pedi-cab to help us find the Century Club. It's one of those places that you only know where it is if you have a need to know where it is, so of course it's not marked. Signage on the street would be tacky, I suppose. But the pedi-cab driver pedaled in and out of taxi cabs, limos, and buses as we enjoyed being the fastest thing moving. Warren is being honored by his, and Sunny's, alma mater, New York University. His many books and movies are an amazing accomplishment. Also, two retrospectives on "War of the Roses" are being planned. At 83, he still writes everyday.

We hopped on the train again, for the short trip to Philadelphia. Such a civilized way to travel. We had dinner with Julie Nixon Eisenhower, he husband David, and their daughter Jenny. Julie's exuberance for Ron's leadership at the Foundation is very gratifying and we talked about lots of exciting ideas for the future. She loved the idea of a Chinese Garden as a tribute to her father's historic trip in 1972. We plan to talk to the Chinese community leaders here in Southern California. It would be great if this could be a partnership effort. I can hardly wait to join them in the garden for Tai Chi in the early mornings.

David Eisenhower was recently voted the most popular professor on the Pennsylvania campus where he teaches. He is wonderful, and so is daughter Jenny, a gifted actress and singer,who will be opening in May with the lead in "Fiddler on the Roof."

Then we represented the Foundation at the memorial service for Ambassador Lenore Annenberg, at the Academy of Music. It was a beautiful and elegant tribute to a most generous philanthropist, complete with music by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. The participants included Tom Brokaw, Michael Bloomberg, Ed Rendell, Sandra Day O'Conner, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, David Dreier, and by video, George and Barbara Bush, HRH The Prince of Wales, and Colin Powell. And that's not even the complete list. You probably remember that President Nixon appointed Walter Annenberg to the Court of St. James, where Mrs. Annenberg charmed the royal family and also the commoners. Later she served as President Reagans Chief of Protocol, where she also gained the rank of Ambassador. But, as much as she was a high ranking member of society, she helped countless people and institutions with her generosity.

All in all, it was a good trip and I think we accomplished our mission. Now we have to go to work. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


To all my friends who might be wondering where we are and what we have been doing:

Well, here we are on TDY. The old military term for "Temporary Duty Yonder" . . . we are starting a year or so living in Yorba Linda, California. Yorba is the name of the family who founded this area, and Linda means pretty in Spanish. It is pretty.

We rented a house that is a bit over the top. It's huge, in a chopped up, cavernous way, with two staircases, six bedrooms, six bathrooms and a swimming pool that looks Greecian/Las Vegas gawdy, with three waterfalls and four spitting lions. You know I couldn't make that up.
My favorite spot is a little prayer garden in the side yard that has a statue of the Virgin Mary and a little bench for solitude and meditation.

Ron was recruited and persuaded to serve as the first President of the Richard Nixon Presidential Foundation. When the long-time executive director, John Taylor, resigned to become a full time Episcopal priest, the Foundation Board launched an executive search to find his replacement. They chose Korn/Ferry International. Board Chairman, Kris Elftmann, was advised by Sandy Quinn to contact Ron Walker to help him understand the search process. The more Ron and Kris talked, and it was quite often, the more Kris came to realize who should do the job. (It reminds me of George W. Bush asking Dick Cheney to lead his search for a Vice President.)

Ron told Kris he was "too old and very happily retired," for weeks. Kris wouldn't accept that answer. Finally, at dinner one night with Linda Elftmann, Sandy Quinn and me, Ron said, "If you really want me to do this you will have to get 100 percent of your board behind this. I won't do it without that kind of support, and I will put a succession plan in place immediately. I will only do it for a year to `18 months." Kris jumped on the challenge and pulled it off . . . . and here we are. Every once in a while we look at each other and GULP!

But, as so often happens with our wonderful family, Ron comes complete with his own "Verizon Network." Marja came with us and is our House/Dog Manager. Being the sole proprieter of her MarjaDesign Graphics Company, she can work anywhere that is wifi enabled. She is officed in the living room, at the front of the house.

We came to the Library in June when Ron was asked to speak to the Young President's Organization. They were meeting at the La Casa Pacifica, the Nixon's former home in San Clemente. It is now owned by Gavin and Ninetta Herbert. It was during this visit that Ron gave Kris the 100% Board Challenge, but nobody else knew what was in the works but Sandy Quinn and Linda Elftman. Ron and I flew up to Jackson Hole and spent three weeks "banking rest" while Ron and Kris talked multiple times daily. Marja held down the Tucson fort with the doggies.

When the Board voted unanimously for Ron to assume the leadership of the Foundation, they also voted to change the title from Executive Director to President. Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, both board members, were grateful and gracious in expressing their appreciation that Ron would consider taking on this role.

Now we, "the network," had to get to work. Marja and I drove over with the dogs, our brother and sister dachshunds, Kodai and Lulubelle. Ron flew over. Lynne and Barry flew in from Kentucky. Lisa volunteered to be in charge of the Tucson house.

We got three rooms at the Fullerton Marriott and proceeded to find a house to rent. We found this beauty, and finalized the deal. We dubbed it "Coyote Base." Then we took the dogs to play on Newport Beach, my girlhood stomping ground.

In the meantime, the Library Foundation Staff and all the docents welcomed us in the East Room. We had a catered lunch with the staff and felt very welcome and appreciated. Sandy, Frank Gannon, Ron and I drove up to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to have dinner with our wonderful, and longtime friend, Bruce Herschenson. He's one of the treasures of the time that we represent here and the mission is to join together and work to enrich the legacy of Richard Nixon.

We know we will never get past Watergate. That's a given. But we can strive to highlight the MANY good things President Nixon accomplished. They include the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ), the All volunteer Army that ended the draft, Parks to the People, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and of course his Opening of China, to name just a few. Perhaps someday, they won't ALWAYS refer to RN as the first President to Resign" without at least mentioning one or more positive achievements too.

My girls asked me to keep a blog of the experience and this is my first one. We, of course, encourage everyone to get involved with the library, if you have any interest. It is amazing to realize that we are the only ones here who "lived" it. Now that the National Archives are involved and the Library is a part of the "Presidential Libraries System," quality control is needed. There was a picture of Dick Howard on a board, probably part of the "Nixon-Frost" movie set, and the name on the back was Gordon Strachan. That's just an example of the necessity for leadership by someone who lived it.

If you received this and have no interest, I won't be offended. Just let me know.

All the best, Anne Walker reporting from Coyote Base in Yorba Linda, California