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Lunch At The Watergate Brings Back Memories Of Richard Nixon

June 10, 2017

The life and times of Richard Nixon have long fascinated me.  As a boy from hearing his famed line “I am not a crook” while listening to radio as mom ironed clothes, or the day he left the White House after a most emotional talk to cabinet members and staff, there is always something so large and disturbing about the events.  As an adult there has always been an attempt by me to better gleam what made the man tick.  An introvert who follows a profession that demands an extreme extrovert warrants examination.

Over the decades I have always wanted to visit the Watergate complex where the famed break-in to the National Democratic Headquarters took place in 1972–when I was ten years old.  Just weeks prior to turning 55 I finally made the journey to that place and without really planning it–had lunch there.

The Watergate is a very splendid, and needless to say, pricey series of buildings.  A Supreme Court Justice lives there, the former majority leader of the senate and 1996 Republican presidential nominee lives there, and a list of others.  The cheapest overnight stay for two at the hotel would have cost James and myself almost $800.00.  Needless to say we did not overnight it there.

On Saturday afternoon as we left the Jefferson Memorial and took a taxi to the Watergate I thought perhaps there would be a coffee shop or such to relax and catch a late lunch. Once we made the large arc of a driveway to the Watergate and were greeted by a uniformed man opening the car door I thought perhaps this was going to be even more grand than I had first thought.    We asked about some food options and were told that the Kingbird was still serving.  We asked for outdoor seating and were at once caught up in the history of the place.

To sit there and just take in the surroundings, while pondering the enormity of the break-in that would lead to the constitutional crisis that would envelop this nation was truly sobering.  We did not know it at the time but later that evening we would pass the courthouse where Judge John Sirica would make his rulings.

There were only a few items on the lunch menu and since visiting Washington requires carbs and calories for the constant adrenaline rushes we settled on bagels with cream cheese, lox, and capers.  It came with a side dish of fresh fruit–blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.   James ordered mineral water and I had coffee.  It was not a cheap lunch and admittedly the most expensive coffee I have ever had–though it was richly brewed and simply perfect.

The attendant who waited on us brought a square silver box with a weighted spoon to provide raw sugar (turbinado)  for coffee.  I have always drunk my coffee black but know after this experience I have been missing something.  So, at home now since our return James has a container with a label reading “Snootty Sugar”  so I can relive the Watergate memory daily.    Is that not love?

During lunch I told James that Lary Swoboda, the state representative I had worked with for nearly a decade in Wisconsin, would have much loved this experience, too.  He was also an avid reader of books about Nixon and had many recollections about the events and mood of the nation during those tumultuous years.  So in some sense Lary did make it to the Watergate–at least in our memories.

I told the friendly lady at the end our lunch how pleased I was to have had the experience and made my interest in Nixon known.  Though most professional at her job she put both hands over her head–the peace sign made with fingers in each hand–and said “I am not a crook.”

It was perfect!

The other Richard Nixon moment on the trip took place at the Capitol Visitors’ Center under Capitol Hill.  There were countless items to view from pens used to sign significant legislation to the catafalque used for President Lincoln’s funeral.   And then there was this.


The wooden box that was used for the counting of the Electoral College Votes following the 1968 election.  The final victory required to make Richard Nixon the president.

  1. June 14, 2017 12:08 AM

    Thanks, PurplePenquin.

  2. June 13, 2017 11:43 PM

    Been meaning to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your “travelogue” entries lately…thanks for sharing your DC visit with us!

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