15 Jun

A Father’s Day Surfboard at the White House

Richard Nixon loved the ocean ever since his childhood growing up in Southern California. When he was a young boy, family vacations meant pitching a tent and camping right on the sand in front of the historic Laguna Beach Hotel. During his high school and college years, fun activities included adventures to the beaches in Santa Monica, Long Beach, Newport Beach and Balboa. When he was courting his future bride Patricia, some of their most enjoyable dates were watching the sun set at Huntington and San Clemente beaches, and when he proposed to Pat, he did so on the cliffs overlooking the Dana Point beach.

So it should have been no surprise when, on June 15, 1969, exactly 45 years ago, President Nixon’s daughters Tricia and Julie celebrated his first Father’s Day in the White House with a gift of a miniature surfboard to serve as a reminder of his love of the ocean.

Julie, Tricia and President Nixon on the White House lawn with their Father's Day gift of a miniature surf board.

14 Jun

Richard Nixon’s First Movie – Across from the Spit & Argue Club

Yorba Linda has a current population of nearly 70,000 residents. But when Richard Nixon was born there just over 101 years ago, it was hardly even a town. People from the era described early Yorba Linda as the equivalent to a gas station in the desert – “you went through town and you didn’t even know you went through it.”

The Nixon family lived there for Richard’s first nine years, and  in that time the population of Yorba Linda swelled to 350.  Richard Nixon’s universe was essentially a four block area, the center of which was Main Street, where the town blacksmith and Masonic Hall were located.

The Buckmaster blacksmith shop was affectionately known as the Spit & Argue Club, where the men from town always gathered to discuss issues of the day. Richard’s father Frank Nixon was a charter member of the group, and he always walked his sons Harold, Richard and Don into town with him so they could ride the local delivery wagon while he debated varying topics with his friends.

Across Main Street was the Masonic Hall, which housed a local drug store, and served as a community center. There were no theaters in the area, so movies were a rarity, but those that were shown were at the Masonic Hall, and everyone in town attended. This is where Richard Nixon saw his first motion picture,  The Man Without a Country  a 1917 film based on a short story by the author, historian and Unitarian clergyman Edward E. Hale, about an American Army lieutenant who, having renounced his country during a trial for treason, is sentenced to spend the rest of his life at sea.

Both the Buckmaster building which housed the Spit & Argue Club and the Masonic Hall still stand on Main Street, Yorba Linda. Now and then photographs are below.

Spit & Argue Club

The Buckmaster blacksmith shop on Main Street served as the Spit & Argue Club for the early Yorba Linda townsmen.

The Masonic Hall on Main Street, across from the Buckmaster building, served as a community center and is where Richard Nixon saw his first motion picture.


28 Feb

Space Shuttle Endeavor’s Southern California Nixon Roots

The space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center is truly an amazing exhibit for all to see. Equally amazing is that the space shuttle program has its roots in the Nixon Administration and Southern California.

The California Science Center is located adjacent to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where in the fall of 1933 Richard Nixon suited up with the Whittier Poets to take on the defending National Champion USC football team coached by Howard Jones. Whittier lost to USC 51-0. But they fought hard and had a never give up attitude.

These are the same attributes that Nixon demonstrated throughout his life. There is no way Nixon could have foreseen that just beyond the walls of the Coliseum would one day be located a space shuttle that was the result of his foresight. But that is exactly what happened.

On January 5, 1972, while at the San Clemente Western White House, Nixon met with NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher, and made the following announcement: “I have decided today that the United States should proceed at once with the development of an entirely new type of space transportation system designed to help transform the space frontier of the 1970’s into familiar territory, easily accessible for human endeavor in the 1980’s and ’90’s.”

The space shuttle program had its share of difficulties and suffered tremendous losses – namely the Challenger in 1986. But like Nixon, NASA and the space shuttle program fought hard and had a never give up attitude, and the shuttle Endeavour was put into service with flight operations in 1992. And the rest is history.

Richard Nixon and the Space Shuttle

Nixon and John C. Fletcher just before announcing space shuttle program, and Endeavour at the California Science Center

10 Jan

We Celebrated at 323 for President Nixon’s 101st!

It is well known that Richard Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, and raised in Whittier, graduating from Whittier High School and Whittier College. Less well known is the fact that America’s 37th President attended Fullerton High School for his freshman and sophomore years. During those two years, Nixon often stayed during the week at his Aunt Carrie Wildermuth’s house at 323 Jacaranda in Fullerton. In addition, the entire Nixon family often visited in Sundays for afternoon picnics where all the boys gathered to play football in the road out front.

as a result of the hard work of Chris Norby, a former member of both the State Assembly and  the Orange County Board of Supervisors, today we celebrated Richard Nixon’s 101st birthday at the Jacaranda residence. The current owner was kind enough to open the 900 square foot residence, basically still in original (and beautifully restored) condition, to all the attendees for the afternoon ceremony.

Thanks to Chris for including Native Son: Richard Nixon’s Southern California!

Richard Nixon frequently stayed at the 323 Jacaranda home of his Aunt Carrie Wildermuth

31 Dec

Southern California’s Final Whistle Stop Campaign

The greater Los Angeles area, including Orange County, is so densely populated that politicians do not campaign by train through Southern California. “Whistle Stop” campaigns have traditionally been conducted through parts of the country where a candidate wants to reach smaller communities through the countryside connected by rail. The train pulls into a small station, and the candidate can speak to the crowd from the rear of the train. California has seen such campaigns across the state. In 1952 Richard Nixon kicked off his Vice-Presidential campaign on a train platform in Pomona. The train headed north, stopping at small towns along the way through California and Oregon.

Richard Nixon loved trains. He could hear them traveling near his boyhood home in Yorba Linda, where he often daydreamed of the places one could see be train. As a politician, his favorite method of campaigning was the Whistle Stop tour. In fact, each year The Nixon Library has a Christmas Train Exhibit inspired by Nixon’s love of trains.

So it really should not come as any surprise that Richard Nixon brought Southern California its last Whistle Stop campaign in 1962. At the time, Nixon was seeking to defeat incumbent Governor Pat Brown. On October 18th Nixon ran an old fashioned Victory Express Train from Santa Barbara south to Los Angeles, overnighting at the Union Pacific Station. First thing the next morning the train rolled out of Union Station for campaign events at the train stations in Pico Rivera (7607 South Serapis Avenue), Fullerton (120 East Santa Fe Street), Anaheim (708 East Center Street), Orange (185 North Achison Street), Santa Ana (1034 East Fourth Street), San Juan Capistrano (Verdugo and Los Rios Streets) and then on to San Diego. In each city, Nixon’s train would pull up and he held rallies right on the tracks.

We will likely never again see such a campaign through Southern California. The Pico Station has since been moved and is now a museum; the Anaheim Station is now a youth center; and the Santa Ana Station has been demolished. But with a little imagination, you can see Nixon’s Victory Express pulling into each of these stations for Southern California’s final Whistle Stop Campaign.

Stations from the last Southern California Whistle Stop Campaign

Clockwise from top left, the Pico, Fullerton, Anaheim, Orange and Santa Ana Train Stations from Southern California's last Whistle Stop Campaign




11 Nov

Happy Veteran’s Day, Richard Nixon

In honor of Veteran’s Day, here are some terrific pictures of Richard Nixon serving in the South Pacific. Thousands of miles away fighting in a war, it is clear that he never lost his sense of duty, his sense of humor, his Southern California roots or his devotion to Pat. Likewise, Pat sent a beautiful portrait to Richard and also a humorous shot as well.

Richard Nixon serving in the South Pacific, World War Two

Clockwise, from top: Nixon with buddy in Jeep; Nixon working on phone in Quonset hut, Chinatown picture of Pat, Nixon (in hardhat) at Los Angeles encampment, Nixon in jungle stream and in uniform, Pat's portrait she sent to Richard

30 Sep

A Country Boy with a Country Appetite

Richard Nixon was raised a country boy. When he was born in Yorba Linda, there were only about three hundred or so residents. Nine years later when his family moved to East Whittier, the area was so sparsely populated that the residents of nearby Whittier considered it “out in the country.” All the roads were dirt. Homes were several blocks apart. The Nixons ran a little gas station with general store. Richard’s mother Hannah was a terrific cook, and was especially talented in making pies. Meat and potatoes were the staple of the day. And Richard Nixon developed quite a country boy appetite. These were some of his favorite recipes:


Saute until just done in hot butter 1 thinly sliced, medium potato. Add, quickly cook golden, 1 sliced, medium yellow onion. Add, quickly cook crisp, about 16 dollar-sized pieces cooked, hard Virginia ham, each 1/8 inch thick. Add all to 10 inch omelet skillet with 4 tbsps. hot butter. Add half of 8 beaten eggs; let eggs set on bottom, holding vegetables and ham; add salt, pepper, rest of eggs. Cook, tilting pan to side, pushing in sides of omelet with spatula to let eggs run under and set on bottom. Set top under hot broiler. Serve warm or cold, in wedges.


Two small chickens cut into halves

To ½ cup melted butter, add the following:

Juice of two lemons

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Marinate chicken for three to four hours in sauce

Barbecue- basting often with remainder of sauce

Or to bake—oven at 325 – bake 45 minutes—basting often.


You will need a spring-form pan in addition to the following ingredients:

2 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 pound creamed cottage cheese

1 ½ cups sugar

4 eggs, slightly beaten

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 table spoons flour

1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup butter, melted

1 pint sour cream

Preheat oven to 325ᵒ. Grease a nine-inch spring-form pan.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with cottage cheese at high speed, until they are well combined. Gradually beat in the sugar and then the eggs. At low speed, beat in the cornstarch, flour, lemon juice and rind, and vanilla. Add the melted butter and sour cream. Beat just until it is smooth. Pour into greased pan. Bake one hour and 10 minutes, or until firm around the edges. Turn off the oven. Let the pan stand in the over for two hours. Then remove and let it cool completely. This takes at least two hours. Refrigerate the cake for three hours, or until it is well chilled.

To remove the cake from the pan, run a spatula around the sides of the cheesecake and then release the clasp of the spring-form pan. Leave the bottom of the pan in place and put it right on a serving plate.

Early Yorba Linda with the Nixon home and barn in the center of picture

Early Yorba Linda with the Nixon home and barn in the center of picture

30 Aug

Richard Nixon Stayed Here

Richard Nixon had a tremendous work ethic. He was a hard worker, and hated to waste time. For example, long before he was President enjoying the perks such as Air Force One, his friends knew that when he was to catch a flight, he would show up at the gate five minutes before take-off. When asked why he cut it so close, he would explain that he hated to waste time sitting in an airport waiting for the flight.

He was the same way when he campaigned. Fifty-one years ago was Nixon’s last campaign dedicated solely to California. He crisscrossed the state non-stop in an effort to unseat Governor Pat Brown (father of current Governor Jerry Brown). It was an uphill battle, and Nixon knew it. Some of his close supporters, such as William Price, did not believe he really had his heart in the campaign. Whether he did or not, once he set his mind to the campaign, his work ethic took over.

Not only was he running for Governor, but Nixon was also writing and promoting his first book Six Crises, and a syndicated column for Times Mirror, plus he was a partner in a busy law firm (Adams, Duque & Hazeltine). So as he traveled the state, and especially Southern California, he made sure that his staff always rented rooms in local hotels so he could rest, work and prepare for his next appearance.

Granted, as the former Vice President, most of his stops were to wonderful hotels such as the Balboa Bay Club or Disneyland Hotel when in Orange County, and the Beverly Hilton, Ambassador and Biltmore hotels when in Los Angeles. But for Nixon, it was more important to get work done than to worry about the accommodations, and he was willing to work and stay in some lesser known motels as well. Places that have long since forgotten that the future President stayed in their modest facilities. Motels such as the Fiesta Motel on Lankershim Boulevard, the Travel Inn on Sepulveda, the Hollywood Palms on Sunset, and the Blue Pacific on Whittier Boulevard in Whittier. These motels, except for the Fiesta (which is now the Mark Taper Foundation Center for Housing and Supportive Services, remain virtually unchanged since the days in 1962 when Nixon was a guest at each.

Nixon was a guest at each of these modest motels during the 1962 governor's race campaign.

28 Jul

Richard Nixon and Bristol Farms

Southern California has a tendency to to demolish old buildings in favor of new and improved structures. But not always. Thankfully every now and again an iconic structure is preserved while it is redesigned for another purpose.

Chasen’s Restaurant,  opened in 1936 at 9039 Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood, was a favorite of many Hollywood celebrities and politicians. And it was one of  Richard Nixon’s favorite eateries as well.  Especially in the period of 1961-1963 during his post Vice-Presidential years when he was practicing law in Los Angeles, living in Brentwood and Beverly Hills, and running for governor. Chasen’s was also a favored by Nixon’s good friend Ronald Reagan. In fact, Ronald proposed to Nancy while sitting at their favorite booth in the restaurant. That booth is now at Reagan’s Presidential Library.

The Plush Horse, opened in 1960, was another famed locale in the South Bay area. During his campaign to unseat Pat Brown, Jack Drown, one of Nixon’s lifelong best friends, arranged for Nixon to campaign at the Plush Horse, an upscale eatery at 1700 Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach. Drown was a successful businessman who lived in Rolling Hills with his wife Helene (Pat Nixon’s best friend). The Plush Horse later became The Strand, a nightclub hosting such greats as Keith Richards and the Winos, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Leon Russell, Chris Isaak, Gregg Allman, Nick Lowe and Pancho Sanchez.

Ultimately, both Chasen’s and The Plush Horse were shuttered. But instead of demolishing these prime pieces of real estate in upscale areas, each was preserved and reborn as a Bristol Farms markets!

The Plush Horse Bristol Farms

The Plush Horse


Bristol Farms

Chasen's famed green awning

14 Jun

AMTRAK Surfliner and La Casa Pacifica

From 1969 through 1980 Richard and Pat Nixon’s official private residence was La Casa Pacifica, located steps from the Pacific Ocean in beautiful San Clemente. The La Casa Pacifica residence was built in 1927 by Henry Hamilton Cotton, an early Democrat Party supporter.Only the AMTRAK Surfliner’s tracks separated the estate from the sand and sea. Here is a short video with a: View of La Casa Pacifica from AMTRAK Surfliner. The first struct seen is a small cupola structure. In the 1930’s President Franklin Roosevelt visited the home, arriving by train for an overnight card game in this little building.