The Gates to a President’s Hell: Water and the IRS

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by cheri block

At the end of August 1973, after spending the summer eating ice cream sundaes and pistachio nuts, guacamole and whipped cream, I gave birth to a baby girl. I was twenty-three years old.

Most women in those days remember the months leading up to their deliveries as ones festooned with baby showers and serious decision-making about cribs and rockers, nursery colors and strollers. Not I. I spent the entire summer on the sofa watching the Senate Watergate Hearings. Gordon Liddy, H.R. Haldeman, Archibald Cox, John Dean, Herb Kalmbach–these names I knew well.

I am a small person–at the time of my pregnancy I weighed about 100 pounds and by June of 1973, my body weight was approaching 118 pounds. My ankles screamed at me; my lungs cried out nightly, “More air, please!” In short, I slowed down. These were not the days when women worked out at the gym up to the night of delivery or spent their last moments on a yoga mat before their water broke. These were the days when, like Homer Simpson creating a permanent divot, or should I say crater on the sofa, it was perfectly acceptable to lounge while pregnant.

I was no exception. My husband, in law school from August to May and in Officer Candidate School for the National Guard that summer, was not clerking for some high-powered judge in San Francisco. We were married, damnit, and he had a child on the way and a wife on the couch.

He worked, therefore, at Pacific States Steel, a filthy (now condemned and cleaned up thanks to the EPA) sooty company in Union City, California. His job was to keep the underground ovens going and to do this, he had to wear wooden sandals strapped to the bottom of his boots to keep the rubber from melting. Metal-toed boots would surely roast his toes like peanuts.

He would come home from work with soot so ground into his  face, I thought we lived in West Virginia outside of some coal mine. Nightly, dropping his lunchbox on the counter before going upstairs to shower,  he would find me watching the Senate Watergate Hearings. Dinner was not ready.

Like my husband  shoveling coal in the bowels of Pacific States Steel, Richard Nixon, too, was on the hot seat of American politics and I wasn’t going to miss one minute. And I didn’t.

You see, I had a personal connection to the Watergate scandal: my college roommate had married the son of Richard Nixon’s personal attorney, Herb Kalmbach. I wanted to see him testify. I wondered what my roommate  might be thinking about her father-in-law. I also wondered if she ever felt guilty wearing my dirndl skirts and stretching out the waist bands while I was away on weekends.

But most of all, from the outset, I was positive that Richard Nixon had lied to the American public about his role in the cover-up and, as a seasoned Sunnyside Day Camp Counselor by day, ordering small children around, and a clerk in the Mervyn’s Department Store Mens’ Department by night, I did not approve of lying or shoplifting. Or secret break-ins. I wanted justice to be done.

I will confess that at that time, I was a registered Democrat and did not like Richard Nixon, whose shifty eyes and sweaty upper lip during the 1960 debates with John F. Kennedy made me, as a precocious 4th grader, vote for JFK in a straw election in Room 6.

We all know how Richard Nixon was brought down: Arrogance. Narcissism. Ignorance. Prevarication.

These fatal flaws can eventually trip up even the most well-insulated politician.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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17 Responses to The Gates to a President’s Hell: Water and the IRS

  1. douglas says:

    I also did not like Richard Nixon. But it was not because I was a Democrat (which I was at the time). I was too busy working, going to college (pointlessly, it turned out) and dealing with the woman I was to divorce some years later to pay a lot of attention to the Watergate hearings. No, I disliked Nixon because I had been in the Navy when he first took up residence in the WH and allowed the Vietnam War continue for 5 plus years longer than it needed to while young men died and were mutilated and scarred. I still dislike him. He didn’t simply lie about the Watergate break-in cover up, he also lied about his “plan to end the war” and a lot of people died for his political desires.

  2. Cyberquill says:

    Not sure who broke the IRS story, but it seems that Woodward and Bernstein were asleep at the switch this time around.

  3. Brighid says:

    I fervently disliked Nixon, and now O and even more so Soros, for their effect on my beloved country.

    • Cheri says:

      We’ll see what the latest three screw-ups shall do. The details of the Benghazi scenario are disgusting. Did you know that Ambassador Stevens was the first ambassador in 3 decades to be killed on duty? I’m a Libertarian, so my concerns usually have to do with government overreach, no matter who the president is. This president, unfortunately, has no leadership or elocution skills. He reminds me of a number of my students in college-prep English, not Honors.

      When things don’t go Obama’s way, he turns into a blamer. Very unbecoming of the president.

      • wkkortas says:

        Your right about Obama’s leadership skills, or at least his abilities in the arts of politics. Frankly, I think the worst moment of his Presidency is when Rahm Emanuel left–he was the sonofabitch this administration leads. I think Obama would make a fine Supreme Court justice, but as a president, he needs a lot more LBJ in his diet.

  4. It would be interesting to find one person who admitted to liking Nixon, then or now. He was certainly all of the above. I was present at the old Lucky Center in Centerville, when he came through before his run for the Governorship. Not for nothing was he termed “Tricky Dick”. Poor adoring Pat sat beside him in her famous cloth coat, feet pressed firmly together with a look of devotion on her face. Nancy put her trademark on the same expression some years later, while listening to Ronnie. ( Nixon earned his nickname as a somewhat younger man in his local Junior Chamber of Commerce.)

    • Cheri says:

      I did not know that Kayti. By the way, your McDonald’s blog post is a kick. Left me thinking of Al B. this morning. What a character he was. (Like Dr. Advice)

    • Don says:

      I was 16 when he resigned and probably the only person in the City of Berkeley-sponsored summer music camp who did not cheer when his speech was piped over the PA system. Not because I liked him, but because I felt it was too weighty a moment for crowd hysterics. Correct, I wasn’t a fun date in those days.

  5. Richard says:

    With a BMI of 21.6, Watergate and couch-spuddery were definitely the best therapies.

  6. Cheri says:

    Ha! The BMI continued to increase as the summer months moved along.

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