President Richard M. Nixon: Little-known Facts and Trivia

Some little-known facts and trivia about the President of the United States Richard M. Nixon.


-Nixon's mother once told the public about Richard's celebrated talents. "He was the best potato masher one could wish for," she recalled. "Even in these days, when I am visiting Richard and Pat in Washington, or when they visit me, he will take over the potato mashing. My feeling is that he actually enjoys it."

-When Nixon became Vice-President, his mother hung a huge, transparent, 3-dimensional color photograph of Richard in her stairwell. When she pressed a special button, the image lit up.

-At Whittier College, the annual bonfire was a point of class pride. Each year the fire was fueled with scrap wood topped by an outhouse. The competition was to see which senior chairman could top the pile of debris with the largest outhouse-a 2-holer, say, or even a 3. Young Nixon scored an immense and well remembered triumph when his diligence turned up a 4-holer! As writer Garry Wills suggests: "Picture the systematic intensity that went into this achievement."

-After his "Checkers" speech Nixon received a congratulatory phone call from Hollywood producer Darryl Zanuck. "The most tremendous performance I've ever seen," Zanuck told him.

-Despite its spectacular success as a political device, Nixon was always sensitive to teasing about his "Checkers" speech. During one campaign appearance in 1952, a young man in the audience shouted up at Nixon: "Tell us a dog story, Dick!" The candidate lost control of himself almost completely. "When we're elected," he shouted back, "we'll take care of people like you!" Then Nixon turned to the Secret Service men in the hall and told them, "OK, boys, throw him out!"

-In 1954, while serving as Vice-President, Nixon found time to travel to Whittier College to deliver a commencement address. Feelings were so divided on Nixon's old campus that 2 reception lines had to be set up by the college administration. Those who wanted to greet the Vice-President stood in one, while those who desired to avoid that honor stood in the other.

-Occasionally, Nixon found it necessary to lash out physically at hecklers. During his trip to Peru as Vice-President, a man in the crowd spat on him. "As I saw his legs go by," Nixon remembers, "at least I had the satisfaction of planting a healthy kick on his shins....Nothing I did all day made me feel better."

-One of Nixon's more fanciful campaign proposals in 1960 was a pledge that, if elected, he would send ex-Presidents Hoover, Truman, and Eisenhower to "visit Eastern Europe and organize Freedom's underground against communism there."

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