Friday, August 8, 2014

Where were you when Nixon resigned?

[Andy Warhol, Vote McGovern. 1972. Screen print on Arches 88 paper. 42 x 42 in. From The Andy Warhol Museum. First spotted at Ordinary Finds.]

I know where I was on August 9, 1974: at home watching television. I remember the farewell speech — “My mother was a saint” — as painful to watch. I despised the man, but I took no pleasure in this sad spectacle. His life was in ruins, and there was his family, standing off to the side having to see it.

I have more vivid memories of the day before the resignation, the day Nixon announced that he would resign. I was working as my dad’s helper (tile work) at the house of a woman named Mrs. Zargami, somewhere in northern New Jersey. We had a transistor radio on and heard the news — in the afternoon, I think — that Nixon was going to address the nation that night. Mrs. Zargami gave me a twenty-dollar bill at the end of the day. I wondered whether she realized that my dad was paying me. We drove home and we all had dinner, and later that night we turned on the TV.

Where were you when Richard Nixon resigned?

Richard Nixon on the Irish
Six degrees of Richard Nixon

[Thank you again, Mrs. Zarghami. And how do I remember her name? My dad has quizzed me on it over the years. Thanks, Dad.]

comments: 9

Fresca said...

I just blogged about this too...
I remember watching it on the couch with my father, who hated Nixon with a personal (and Sicilian) hatred. I was 13--it was the summer before I started high school--and my father had spent the whole summer in the living room with the drapes drawn, watching the senate hearings on TV.
(My father was a professor of political science, so this could be counted as work...)

Like you, I also felt uncomfortable--even sad--to see this individual's lief so publicly seemingly ruined.
I might have felt less sympathy if I'd known he'd rehabilitate himself in the public's eyes soon enough.

Similarly I feel a little sad to see George W.'s childlike doggie paintings, and then I think of Iraq and I'm not so sad.
Sort of a reverse of "My Favorite Things"...

Michael Leddy said...

Indeed. We will be digging out from W. for many years to come.

Daughter Number Three said...

It's weird, but I don't remember exactly when I heard it. It was just another summer at my rural home; I was 14. My grandparents, who lived with us, were in declining health (and both died within a few months) but my grandpa was pretty happy about it. He had been following the story closely. The clearest memory I have of the whole Watergate debacle was during one of the Congressional hearings, when more damning info came out and suddenly the Republicans stopped trying to defend him.

Elaine said...

I was teaching jr high special ed in SW Ohio, and I had spent two summers glued to the televised hearings and so forth. At one point, I had read *every* Watergate book out there. Fascinating and depressing.

If only Hubert Humphrey had been our president

Bent said...

Thanks for the link-back, Michael. Best wishes from our Norway retreat, and good vibes in these troubled times for your brother-in-law.


Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, Bent.

Mika said...


Where were you when Clinton was impeached and, in essence, said "Pthththttttt!" to Congress. Impeached and stayed in office - I think one showed much more national respect than the other.

And digging out from an unpleasant legacy? Well, that's yet to come.

Michael Leddy said...

Not that it has a dang thing to do with the occasion for this post (a forty-year anniversary), but I believe I was listening on the radio while driving.

Michael Leddy said...

And Mika, if you’d like to see what I think of Bill Clinton, just search my blog. You’d find the comments that follow this post, for instance.