Sunday, February 21, 2010

Record Breaking Day

The President's Day event at the Richard Nixon Library broke all sorts of records. It was great!

Attendance was 5,068 folks, who spent $7,127.97 in the Museum Shop and ate and drank $1,118.65 worth in the Museum Cafe.

C-span 3 will begin airing it on, Sunday, February 21, 2010, several times. We had a problem finding C-span 3 on DirecTV or our cable company. If you are having the same experience, you can "google" and look for 3 in the cable lineup. They call the programming on that channel, AH, for American History. It came across just great. Fun to see so many old pals in the audience, and I am especially proud of the panelists. Dwight Chapin, Steve Bull, Larry Higby, Ron Walker and Dave Parker via film were outstanding. What a great accomplishment to get all the "Haldeman as Chief of Staff" expertise on the record for people to study and decide for themselves how they view the Nixon administration.

We celebrated after the panel, with a special gathering in our Yorba Linda rented house. Readers of this blog know that we refer to it as "camping" because of the limited furnishings and lack of the creature comforts we take for granted in our other homes. As much as we complain about the cold and cavernous "Coyote Base," it is the perfect place to hold a seated dinner party for 56 people. Think about it, that's a huge truck load of chairs, tables and eating utensils.

The Anaheim White House restaurant loves it too. They don't often get to cater in a place where they can transform empty rooms into works of art. Flowers, flags, candles, gleaming crystal and china brought elegance to life. Amine, Geronimo, and all the other hard working staff are wonderful to work with. The fact that there were three blazing gas fireplaces, including one in an enclosed courtyard for alfresco dining under the stars added to the ambiance of a wonderful evening where old Nixon era staff and pals could gather and reminisce. It was also a remarkable opportunity for some of the Nixon Foundation's young staff to spend time with many of the people who "lived it". Those who were there that evening tell us that it was an invaluable time to listen, learn and appreciate what those days were really like. That is something they say has been missing from the day to day operations at the Library. Ron and I are so grateful that these exchanges are happening at last. Yes, they could and should have been done years ago and perhaps we will never fully understand why they weren't.

During the panel, Dwight Chapin joked about Haldeman's use of the TL2 symbol (Too little, too late.) but in this case, it's BLTN (Better Late Than Never!) We couldn't be doing what we are doing now, five or ten years from now. We are losing valuable insight way too often now: Bill Safire and Al Haig are perfect examples.

It felt good to feel good about old times. But as Dwight Chapin and the panelist pointed out, they represented many. That was very much on their minds as they put the panel together and selected photos and memos. You know if you are one of those, "many." Thank you, also, for all you did and continue to do. Please know you were missed.

News flash: The reclusive Dick Howard showed up, unannounced, to watch the panel. Ron spotted him and blew his cover and I made him sit with Lisa and Marja, but he wouldn't stay for the dinner. Too bad, because many of us miss spending time with him. He was a valuable member of the Nixon team and his involvement now would lend a great deal of insight. Which reminds me, it is not too late for others to get involved. Other panels to put on the historic record include, the Environment, the trip to China, National Security, Nominating Conventions, Presidential Advancing, Speech writing, and so much more. What was your area of expertise? What other panel topics would you suggest?

A personal note, a prerogative of having your own blog: Why in the world do we need to be able to take loaded guns into NATIONAL PARKS? I don't get it, so perhaps I must be missing a Charleton Heston moment . . . . or something? Hunting is not allowed in any of our National Parks, so the point would be? Ron joined eight other former National Park Directors in opposing loaded guns in our parks. Obviously, their letter was ignored.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Troops Rallied


It is quite heartwarming and amazing to see what is happening here in Yorba Linda, California. Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile may remember the one I wrote about our trip to "Rally the Troops." That was back in September, 2009. Well, the troops rallied. Big Time. President's Day will be the scene of the second Nixon Legacy Panels. A special panel will discuss the "Effective Use of the President's Time."

The panelists are Dwight Chapin, Steve Bull, Larry Higby and Ron Walker. In my mind it is really going to be the "Bob Haldeman Panel." Bob was the genius behind the efficient way the Nixon White House operated on a daily basis. He believed the key word in his title was STAFF. Chief of STAFF to the President of the United States! You didn't see him on the Sunday talk shows, because he didn't consider TV appearances to be part of his job description. It is exciting that this part of history will be discussed by four men who worked for Bob Haldeman, and recorded by C-span. Because of this panel, future generations of presidential scholars will have more information with which to judge the Nixon Administration.

Some of you will be interested to read the names of those who heard the call to rally, and have made plans to be here on President's Day. Most notable will be twenty-two members of the Haldeman family. Jo Haldeman will be leading the pack of children, grand children and Bob's brother's family. Ron and I will be hosting a dinner here at "Coyote Base" and as of this moment, it looks like it will be a reunion and a happening.

From the military: Jack Brennan, the Marine aide to President Nixon and Gene Boyer, the pilot of Marine One will both be here along with Carl Burhannan, the first black presidential helicopter pilot. It is because of Colonel Boyer's hard work and persistence that the Library has the Presidential Helicopter on the grounds. It is a favorite exhibit of many of our visitors.

An old friend to many, Herb Kalmbach, will be here.

From the Domestic Council: Geoff Shepard, who did such a great job moderating the first Nixon Legacy panel, and panelist James Cavanaugh are coming. Also, John Brown, former Staff Secretary and his wife Noelle who worked for Gordon Strachan and later the Committee to Re-elect the President. (I refuse to refer to it as CREEP)

Special counselor, Frank Gannon will be on hand. Actually, we wish he could be here every day, but he's got another life on the Eastern Shore, helping some of our old pals write their very important stories of what happened and why.

From the White House Advance Office: Jon Foust and Doug Blaser, along with volunteer advance men, John Pitchess, Peter Murphy, Larry Eastland and Wayne Whitehill.

From the Press Office: Bruce Whelihan, and Tim Elbourne's, widow, Inge will be here. She recently married Bob Frohn and theirs is a wonderful story. The Elbourne's and the Frohn's were across-the-street neighbors for many years in Anaheim Hills, California. Both Inge and Bob suffered the loss of children, and then spouses. When Bob heard that Tim had died and Inge had moved to San Luis Opisbo, he decided to drive up and offer his condolences. It was no quick trip. It was a four hour drive. He arrived with a large bouquet of roses. They spent time together. They cried together. They comforted each other. Bob made the trip often, and always arrived with an armload of roses. A couple of weeks ago, they got married. Inge is getting ready to move into the house across the street from where she used to live. Those of you who know Inge will be smiling at this moment. Especially if you had not heard the news.

From the Television office: The late Bill Carruthers two sons will be here.

And from the Secretarial Support office: Terry Decker Goodsen

Ron and I are especially excited that his sister Kaye Walker Ingerson and brother-in-law Mike Ingerson will be with us, joining our daughters Marja Walker and Lisa Walker Hart and Marcia Howard Schoenbaum and her husband Steve. Long-time aide to Governor Pete Wilson, Bob White, will also be on hand.

Those of you who are interested, be watching for it on C-Span.

I plan on doing another blog about the President's Day festivities, but I can't sign off without singing the praises of our amazing and hard working folks here at the RN Foundation. First, there is the incredible Sandy Quinn, who knows everybody that is anybody in the State, and probably on Planet Earth. Sandy makes the library run, something he has done from the day the place opened. All of the "out in front" folks plus the people who move tables and chairs constantly as events happen and the people who make the Museum Store vibrate with excitement every single day are a great bunch of hard workers.

Keep in mind, that President's Day will be a free day. "George Washington" will be on hand giving out cherry pies. All this excitement means the Museum Store will be a hot bed of constant activity. And as I've told you before, our Docents will be on hand and making the day extra special for all who come.

The Anaheim White House Restaurant will be doing our dinner here at Coyote Base. How could a Presidential Library ask for a caterer with a better name?. They are worthy of the title and great to work with. We'll raise a toast, "To The President."