Saturday, September 18, 2010

Goodbye Coyote Base, Hello Rattlesnake

Coyote Base is closed!

Most of you know that we rented the behemoth for a year. The date was August 22, 2009. We wanted to stay in Yorba Linda through September of 2010 and asked for an extension of our lease. The landlord said NO!

So we scrambled, packed, cleaned, sorted, and gave stuff away. Then we went to an "extended stay" place for several days. The movers came and took everything else to Tucson. They had to make three stops, Marja's house, our house and the Harts. The good news is that it's over, and we are back in Tucson. The bad news is our Tucson home is a mess and bursting at the seams. We bought beds in California, but mostly all the furnishings in Coyote Base were garage and estate sale treasures. Five dollar tables, two dollar lamps, you get the idea. Saturday mornings became the days we went hunting, not Ron of course, but Marja and me and whoever else was camping out with us. Then, everyone was so thrilled with their super, valuable finds, that we had to bring them back to Tucson. Therein lies the overload problem.

You can't leave a house for a year and expect things to remain as you left them. This morning at 6:30 am, I was greeted by the rattle of a rattle snake when I went into the garage. After I did the superman leap in a single bound over the Escalade, I called the fire department and they came to get the sucker. Interesting to find out that Arizona Game and Fish won't let the fire-men take them farther than 100 yards away. That's to ensure their survival by making it easier for them to find their home and loved ones. Do you suppose I can ever go out in the garage again and not worry that he'll be back?

Then, feeling a huge overload of stress, I decided to chug out for a walk and try to calm myself. As I was enjoying the vista from the High Mesa, I encountered a javelina. For you who may not know that critter, it looks like a pig in high heels. They have longer legs than porky or Babe, and tall, black pointy hooves. They also have very sharp teeth, eat desert things and smell bad. AND . . . they've been known to charge at people. Needless to say, my walk wasn't completely successful in calming my nerves.

The past year was harder than we thought it would be, and someday maybe I can tell the whole story. Ron, and all of you who rallied to help, also accomplished much more that we had dared to hope for. Legacy panels are on C-span for future generations to study and learn about the Nixon Administration. That's a good thing. The Nixon-haters just want to focus on Watergate, and the latest "expletive deleted" that shows up somewhere. With the recent arrival of truck loads of additional documents at the library, I can just imagine the feverish combing for "juicy tidbits" that must be going on.

We will stay involved until a new President of the Foundation is on board. Ron works the phones for hours every day and we will spend next week at the Library. The true Bonus from the past year was the opportunity to re-connect with so many wonderful Nixon era pals, and to get to know the outstanding docents who provide so much to the day to day operation of the Richard Nixon Foundation, Library and Birthplace. They are truly a unique group of professionals. Thank you for the support and warmth all of you extended to us.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Stronger Foundation

There is now an Association of Presidential Library Foundations. It is 13 members strong. The members are the HOOVER, the ROOSEVELT, the TRUMAN, the EISENHOWER, the KENNEDY, the JOHNSON, the NIXON, the FORD, the CARTER, the REAGAN, the GEORGE H W BUSH, the CLINTON and the GEORGE W BUSH which will break ground on the SMU campus in December.

By coming together and discussing common issues and concerns, it became quite obvious that all Presidential Foundations could benefit by forming this group. The meeting last week in Washington, DC is the second one that Ron and I have attended. (An earlier blog is about our meeting at the Clinton last December.)

A Charter and By-laws were adopted and the officers elected are President Bruce Lindsey from the Clinton, Vice-President Jim Cicconi from the GHW Bush, and Secretary/Treasurer Becky Allgood from the Hoover.

The head Archivist, David Ferriero, has been in charge for nine months now. He and Sharon Fawcett spent time briefing the group. He specifically told Ron that the Watergate Exhibit is one of his highest priorities. The original Watergate Exhibit was ripped out almost immediately when the Archives person, Dr. Tim Naftali arrived at the Library. A sign that has been in place for over three years promises that a new exhibit is "coming soon." It is finally about to happen.

Originally given five days to turn around approval when the Foundation finally received the "plan", the deadline was extended by Ms Fawcett. "Team Searchlight" lead by Bob Bostock, also included members Frank Gannon, Dwight Chapin, Tod Hullin, Jack Carley, Sandy Quinn, and Geoff Shepard, went to work, studied the proposed exhibit, and made suggestions. Then a special team of archivist was set up to review Dr. Naftali's exhibit plans and our response to his plans. Sharon Fawcett made a point of telling Ron that he would be not be pleased with all the changes, but would be happy with some of them. Ron reminded her that our team had only asked that the replacement exhibit be fair and balanced and include the prospective of President Nixon. Looks like we'll soon know! Stay tuned. We are really looking forward to having that empty space filled. It is not fair to the paying guest to be confronted with vacant exhibit space.