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.