Monday, September 2, 2013

The Richard Nixon Presidential Library

Earlier this summer, I got to check out the Ronald Reagan Library, which is one of 15 Presidential libraries in the United States.  After becoming very fascinated with the historic artifacts and the downright cool factor of some of the things there (a de-comissioned Air Force One aircraft that you can board, to name one of many), I made it a point to go see the only other Presidential library in California - let alone Southern California.  The Richard Nixon library is located in Yorba Linda, which is in Orange County, CA.  Each library is about a 45 minute drive from home, so there really is no excuse not to go see it.  These libraries are truly historic records of our nation's presidencies, and are really quite fascinating.

Richard Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, CA, and the very home in which he was born sits on the property.  His father built the home from a kit that was delivered, and in it sits the original bed in which he was born - and they allow you to walk into the house!  I know I'm totally nerding out right now, but it's pretty cool if you ask me!

Among other things I enjoyed seeing were replica space suits from the Apollo 11 mission, a teddy bear presented to President Nixon with signatures from Vietnam prisoners of war (POWs), a piece of the Berlin Wall, Vietnam POW garments and artifacts, and the presidential limousine of Presidents Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter.  Perhaps the most impressive thing I saw there was a Chinese silk double-sided stitching of a cat looking at a mantis.  It was a gift from some Chinese delegates to Nixon, and the detail of the piece is truly remarkable.

There is a full scale replica of the White House's Lincoln sitting room, where Nixon spent a lot of his time writing speeches.  We were told that the President's daughter paid a visit to the museum, and told them that the reproduction was spot on, but was missing one important piece:  a box of Milk Bone dog biscuits for their pet, Checkers.  The box was placed by his favorite chair shortly thereafter!

Lastly, I discovered that Pat and Richard could not afford a wedding photographer.  In one of the timelines of their lives sits a reproduction of the only image taken of their wedding, by a friend in June of 1940.  When you see the image. . . .well, scroll down to check it out, and you'll see.  Let's just say that everyone should have a professional photograph their wedding, simply because it is such an important day that should be documented.  After seeing the image, I would have volunteered my services if I was alive back then.

At the very end of the property sits the graves of Pat and Richard Nixon, just a few yards away from the famous birthplace.  I should also note that in 2001, my high school senior prom was held here.  I was nominated for prom court, but decided not to attend.  It only took me 12 years to venture onto the property and see what it would have looked like.  Chanda and I peeked into what I assumed was a reception area where they hold weddings (we were told that weddings account for the majority of the Library's funding), and I got to imagine the prom that never was.  Oh well.  If you get a chance to see these wonderful collections of Presidential history, by all means, go do it!  Enjoy the photos!

A doll-house-sized replica of Nixon's boyhood home in Yorba Linda

The POW bear given to the President at the largest dinner in White House history.

The famous first-televised Presidential debate.  Those who heard it on the radio felt that Nixon won.  However, those who watched it on television felt that the more photogenic JFK won.  Oh the power of the visual medium.

I love the art on the Berlin Wall.

Close-up of a stitching made of a Presidential meeting between Nixon and Mao Zedong.

Ornate silk stitching.  This thing is simply amazing.

The crate in which a Chinese panda was gifted to the United States.

The pen that ended the Vietnam war.  Talk about being mightier than the sword. . .or in this case, the M16. 

POW garments. . .

. . .and toothbrush

Love this letter.  

The wedding photo.

Lincoln Sitting Room

Checkers' favorite Milk Bone biscuits.

Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 space suit.

Top view looking into the limousine

Nixon's birthplace.

The bed in which Nixon was born

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