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Eyewitness to History: Remembering Richard Nixon's Historic Resignation

Certain Events in our personal lives are forever etched in a manner that we cannot ever forget where were when these events unfolded. Nixon's resignation was one of the most pivotal moments of our history and certainly one for our country. Although I was just ten years old I experienced an event that I instinctively knew was one i would never forget.

Eyewitness to History: 40 Years ago, Richard Nixon became the first, and only President to resign. A President who accomplished great things around the world, he would take paranoia to a new height domestically. On that very night, I was camping with a summer camp. We were having a lot of fun and it had gotten quiet as it got late. My mom and dad had been outspoken Democrats and they could not stand President Nixon. Often times the two could be heard arguing in the kitchen and dining room over politics. Despite being Democrats,my father wasn’t quite on-board with the whole Women’s Liberation Movement yet, and understandably, my mom was!

I grew interested in the House Hearings on the matter and even got a kick out of Barbara Jordan because she sounded nothing like the way I would have expected. Being from Texas, I rooted for her. Judge Sirica, I believe also from Texas,was one of my favorite memories of the time. The names and places and intentions of this Nixon White House were more interesting to me than any one else even close to my age. (Keep in mind I did my book report on Steinbeck’s‘’The Grapes of Wrath’’ so there might have been a clue there!)

I stayed up late on election night on a gloomy November day in 1972. The Presidency was really never in-doubt. John Chancellor of NBC called state-by-state for Nixon in the largest landslide in American history. George McGovern never had a chance. Looking back, we know that the wounds of Vietnam had not nearly healedand the failure of LBJ was still fresh on their minds.

By August of 1974, my father had passed away and mom felt that a young boy of ten would do well to have male role models to lookup to. So I joined a summer camp with the JCC of Houston and we had a blast. My favorite day was when John Pacioreck came and taught baseball to us. He talked about how to steal bases and to this day, I have used every bit of the thing she taught us. I even remember what color his shirt and shorts were. After thesession, I asked for an autograph or five. My innocent joy was still very much in tact.

And still…..John Pacioreck played all of ONE GAME in the majors, having been called up on the final day of the 1963 season. He got on base five times, with three hits and two walks. When 1964 rolled around he was back in the minors to stay. He remains the only ballplayer to retire with a 1.000 lifetime batting average. To me however, he was a rock star.

That hot night in August, the camp counselors gathered a few of us up and we listened to Nixon’s speech on an orange colored small battery operated radio. ‘’Effective at Noon tomorrow, I shall resign the Office of the Presidency and Gerald Ford will be sworn in as the new President…’’ Nixon gave his resignation speech. Everyone cheered. I was so excited I knew I would never sleep that night, which would be trouble for everyone else that night! I also knew it was a great moment, and one I would vividly remember despite being only ten years old at the time. Of course, all I knew and understood was that never before had a President had to resign before. I thought that is was an awesome moment, even while half of the other kids probably weren’t much aware of who the President even was.

When I returned home the next day, mom was in an upbeat mood. I threw my backpacks in the backseat of our 1970 White Buick Wildcat with a raincoat over the passenger side window. I told my mom at once what Ihad learned about politics and history the previous night.

‘’You already know a lot Robbie, she said between puffs of her Salem Menthol Lights, …''...but just promise me one thing….You’ll NEVER become a Republican.’’ Loved my mom, but I never did keep that one. #####

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