Dick Nixon, Soda Shark

Dick Nixon, Soda Shark

DIck Nixon was attorney for Pepsi Cola when I wrote to him to request an autographed picture. His generous response was probably accompanied by a cover letter from his secretary, Rose Mary Woods. If so, I discarded her letter because I didn’t know she would be famous in a dozen years. When I wrote to RN in 1964 to request an interview, I inadvertently preserved Woods’ reply by using it as a book marker. (See http://bit.ly/1mGSgxb)

In 1961, I saw no reason to dislike Nixon. My Weekly Reader had bolstered his image during his vice presidential years, and he was no longer campaigning against JFK, so I set ill feelings aside. My views toward Nixon soured during the Watergate period. When I left American Baptist Churches in 1993, the human resources officer pulled out my 20-year-old application form which had a space for “Miscellaneous Comments.” I had written, “Nixon Sucks.”

Suffice it to say he was a complicated man. When I was growing up, my household held him in fairly high esteem, and my mother was fond of pointing out that, in some poses, my father looked like Nixon. When it came out years later that she was a closet Democrat, I suspected passive-aggressive motives.

Be that as it may, Richard Nixon — possibly underwhelmed by his duties at PepsiCo — took time to scrawl his name for a stranger not old enough to vote. Did it belie a spark of optimism for his future career?

For the record, when I came of age to cast my first vote in 1968, it was for Nixon’s rival, Hubert Humphrey.

About Philip E Jenks

Philip, a synodical deacon in the ELCA Metropolitan New York synod, is a retired communicator for American Baptist Churches USA, the U.S. Conference for the World Council of Churches, the U.S. National Council of Churches, and two Philadelphia area daily newspapers. He and his spouse, the Rev. Dr. Martha M. Cruz, are the parents of six adults and are members of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rye Brook, N.Y. They live in Port Chester, N.Y.
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