Less than an hour from the Beach Street News offices is the Richard Nixon Library. Something everyone should see.
While most of our time is spent at the beach, we do wander off on foggy mornings or when there is no swell or too much swell. After a couple of bad rides in the washing machine, my personal limit is now 8 feet in California. I’ll stretch that to 12 feet in Hawaii because the waves don’t get “angry” until about 15 feet over there.
When it comes to things to do away from the beach, California isn’t short of options. When any of us find something cool or different we’ll share it with you here. The Richard Nixon Library is a place we just kept overlooking. We would see signs on the way to Temecula wine country. Either because he was a republican or because of watergate, we just kept driving by.
Richard Nixon Native Californian
One of the first things you learn walking into the presidential library is that Richard Nixon was born in Yorba Linda. The house his dad built from a kit still stands in its original spot. Once upon a time, people bought houses from Sears Roebuck and Co or Montgomery Wards and built them with help of family and neighbors.
At 14 Richard Nixon got up early and drove to buy fruits and vegetables for his fathers store. Back then 14 was the legal driving age. Eventually his dad sold the store and bought another business in Whittier. Both Yorba Linda and Whittier are very different today then they were back then.
Nixon went to college and eventually law school at Duke. He was also a Navy officer in World War II. This is just the tip of the iceberg of things I didn’t know about President Nixon. Eventually he ran for Congress, Governor of California, the US Senate, Vice President and President. He was never Governor of California, and lost a couple of times at the others before succeeding. The story sounds a bit like Abe Lincoln.
Now I can already hear people saying “Nixon is no Lincoln”. True, but they were both Republicans and did things that the Democrats have somehow claimed ownership of. Lincoln was a role model of sorts for Nixon.
Environmentalist – Women’s Rights Champion
Up until about 25 years ago, California would shift back and forth from Democratic rule to Republican rule. The part that was most educational was finding out that many of the things the Democrats champion now (or claim to) are from Nixon and his era of republicans.
As a young person in California, I remember smog so bad I couldn’t see Saddleback Mountain from the beach. I couldn’t see Long Beach from Seal Beach and as you entered the San Fernando Valley it was nothing but black smog.
Nixon changed that when he connected with Dr. Becker and created the EPA. Wildly unpopular with big polluting companies, the creation of the EPA by President Nixon is why kids can play outside again. There were many days as a child that PE was cancelled due to unhealthy air.
Walking through the library I was reminded of our recent oil spill in Huntington Beach. It turned out in the late 60’s there was a large spill and Nixon was a major player in making oil rigs safer and cleaner. Then I stumbled on the biggest surprise of all. Nixon was a champion of women’s rights. A Republican. I wondered what happened. He helped write and pass Title IX.
Watergate and Saving the Animals
The most amazing thing about the Nixon Library was how open president Nixon was about his failure. The timeline of the Watergate scandal and coverup is pretty open. There isn’t any glossing over the story to make President Nixon look better. In fact it paints a pretty dark picture of a man that let ego take over. Not something people of his generation were known for. Bob Greene wrote that that generation had it’s life mission of creating a safety net for it’s children.
Nixon also helped create and champion the Marine Mammal Protection act. He signed it into law so that people would stop harassing the animals of our oceans. This is just one of many laws he created protecting people, animals and the environment before Watergate ended his great work.
While we try and credit universal healthcare to President Obama, it was actually Richard Nixon who got the ball rolling. He didn’t call healthcare a “right”, rather he said it was our duty as a great nation to take care of our people. Sadly Watergate killed his plan and Gerry Ford couldn’t see it through.
Once upon a time people flocked to California, now they are leaving. Take a visit to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, and it might make sense.
The Richard Nixon Presidential Library is Open Monday – Sunday 10AM to 5 PM
and is located at:
18001 Yorba Linda Blvd,
Yorba Linda, CA 92886