Monday, February 18, 2013

ATIT Reheated: My visits with Richard Nixon in NYC

By Jack Brummet, Editor-in-Chief
with research by Pablo Fanque, National Affairs Editor

Frank Curran, Claudia Curran, Nick Gattuccio, and Jack outside Richard Nixon's House, 1980 - click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

One of my favorite things when I lived in NYC was to visit President Richard Nixon.

The President had a sweet townhouse at 142 East 65th Street on the Upper East Side. We probably stopped by five times while I lived there. I would drag friends there in a taxi, or car, if someone had one. The President never actually came out to greet us, although I often hoped he'd come out and say hi to the kids, and hang with us like the time he visited the students at the Lincoln Memorial. Maybe we'd have another one of those uncomfortable Nixon moments where he is bound and determined to seem like a regular guy. . .an almost laughable goal.

A few years after he resigned, he returned east from his California exile. This is the President who wanted to send me to Vietnam, so I had mixed feelings, indeed, about this man. He kept the Great Society funded, even as he lied and weaseled his way to disgrace. What could you think of the ex red-baiter who went to China and opened diplomatic relations? He was a two-edged sword, which made him endlessly fascinating. And I went there to pay homage to both Good King Richard and Evil Dick.

These visits often occurred around closing time. I seem to recall often having a bottle or go cup in hand, as we stood outside the townhouse for ten or fifteen minutes and pondered the dark and magnificent phenomenon of President Nixon.

In all of those visits, the Secret Service never came near us. We saw them a few times, but no matter how loud and raucous we got, they never approached. I guess that makes sense. There were 20 million people living within an easy car drive. We were probably not the only knuckleheads in the region to stop by.

In the mid-eighties, Richard Nixon and I both moved from Manhattan. He moved to Saddle River, New Jersey and wrote a lot of books, and advised every President in some capacity.  RMN died in 1994, in NYC.

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