The Callased Nixon

This 1960 Nixon button has two messages.

This 1960 Nixon button has Nixon’s face on one side.

Complimenting my son on his two-handed handshake to a friend reminded me of the day I shook hands with Richard Nixon.

It was the Friday or Saturday before the 1960 Presidential Election.

As part of an Oberlin College Young Republican delegation, I had taken part in a torch light parade in Downtown Cleveland.

Not many of those were held after that date, I’d guess, although the Teenage Republicans in McHenry County held one in McHenry in 1968.

The Nixon motorcade came down the street behind a hotel where Nixon was appearing.

I happened to be on his side of his convertible.

Twist it a bit and one can read, "Our Nation Needs Nixon."

Twist it a bit and one can read, “Our Nation Needs Nixon.”

He was shaking hands with people, so I stuck out my hand.

He shook it.

What I remember most is that his hand was callased, more callased than the hand of anyone else I had ever felt.



The Callased Nixon — 8 Comments

  1. I also shook Nixon’s hand that year although I don’t remember the callouses.

    I was ten years old and had gone to Wheaton with a motorcade from the McHenry County Republican Party along with my mother, who, as a Cathoic, voted for Kennedy that year.

    When we got there I wormed my way up to the front of the corridor in the crowd where he would be walking towards the podium and stuck out my hand. I was thrilled.

    I still have the buttons from that day, which survived a fire in the attic a few years ago.

    Many years later, in August of 1974, while attending law school in Washington, D.c I was picking up my wife after her job on Lafayette Square which is right across from the White House.

    The House had just voted a Bill of Impeachment the previous week and we were all waiting to see what would happen.

    As I was waiting for my wife to come out, I turned on the radio.

    At that precise moment a voice came on and announced “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States.”

    Nixon then came on and gave his resignation speech while I gazed upon the West Wing of the White House through the windshield of my car only a couple of hundred yards away.

  2. Adding to your stories and memories of that time, I was a 17 year old freshman at the University of Illinois in Champaign when presidential hopeful, John F. Kennedy, was campaigning.

    I stood in line along with other screaming teenagers when he walked the line and shook all of our hands that cold day in early November.

    I had gloves on when he shook my hand.

    I came home for Thanksgiving vacation and told my mother that I would never wash that glove as John F. Kennedy had touched it and that he was so gorgeous.

    My parents laughed for weeks and I hid the glove from her so that she wouldn’t sweep it up along with my laundry.

    I never wore that pair of gloves again.

  3. The word is callus.

    Although, Mike’s interpretation of callous made more sense to me; but means the opposite of what Cal intended.

    An everyday word and we are all confused.

    Too much poison in the water and air making us dumber by the day.

  4. I remember being a 10 year old in a Catholic Chicago school and watching the swearing in of President Kennedy on TVs wheeled into classrooms.

    Later in 1963 I remember standing next to a guardrail by the Kennedy expressway when his motorcade drove by covered by a bubble top because they were afraid he would be shot; no he was shot in Dallas by haters.

    Hate still carries on.

    Let’s hope love and acceptance can win.

  5. I’ve got no cute, memory lane, political story’s.

    Maybe because like Thoreau, “I meet this American Government…once a year -no more- in the person of it’s tax gatherer”.

  6. It’s a rich and diverse language, Mike.

    No spell check could ever equal what our human minds could attain before we got dumbed down.

    I forgot to mention that Cal’s headline as it appears would indicate flowers.


  7. I don’t have a story about Nixon, since I wasn’t born until many years after he resigned, but I find it fascinating how the 1972 election was one of the biggest landslide elections in history and a little over a year and a half he had no credibility and had to resign to avoid being impeached.

    What a fall from grace.

    It sort of reminds me of Aaron Schock, the former Illinois Congressman who was a young rising star in the GOP, who resigned from office after a scandal surfaced.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.