Friday, February 25, 2011

I was a Nixonette!

This picture was made of me within several months of
Richard's Nixon's campaign stop in Knoxville, Tennessee,
on October 16, 1968.

Several of the girls in my high school were asked to be Nixonettes when Nixon made a presidential campaign stop at the Knoville Coliseum in Knoxville, Tennessee.  A Nixonette was to basically be a cheerleader for Nixon at the event and also to be adorned in red, white and blue.  We were to meet at the school bus in the late afternoon for our trip to Knoxville.  My friend Janet and I decided to wear our Top Hat (social club) uniforms, they were navy blue skirts and vests.  The initials "TP"  were on the vest but this was obscured by our "Nixon's The One " sash we were given that evening.  We were also given a little hat that had a red or blue band on it with Nixon's name.

The words Republican or Democrat never entered my mind that evening.  Janet and I were there for the fun and excitement.  Besides, there might be some cute guys there. :-)

We were assigned our "spots" in the huge crowd and of course Janet and I were not ones to stay long in any spot. 

We ventured out into the lobby area of the Coliseum and a few minutes later there were people scurrying around and the crowd parted with cameras flashing.  It all happened so quickly but the next thing we knew there stood Richard Milhous Nixon right in front of us!  He shook Janet's hand first!  The next thing I knew he said "Hi" and shook my hand!

Janet and I could not wait to get back to our "spots" and brag to our friends that we had shaken hands with Richard Nixon. The next day I combed the local paper, perhaps our photograph was made with Nixon shaking our hand and I might find it in the newspaper.  Janet and I loved telling our story the next day at school.

For many years I kept my little sash, hat and pins.  I had not forgotten the term, "Nixonettes".  Not long ago I was thinking of this event and was surprised to find as much as I did when I Googled "Nixonettes".  It was a
fond memory and I laughed at some of the information I found on Google.

From New York Magazine, October 28, 1968:

The Nixonettes, school girls and secretaries dressed in red, white and blue, organized basketball cheers that drowned out the "Stop the War" chants from the back of the crowds.

~From Gloria Steinem on Learning to Live with Richard Nixon.  

Somehow I escaped getting to wear the paper uniforms.
Some Nixonettes wore these paper dresses and jackets.


Nixon flanked by The Nixonettes!

Another quote I found ...  "We cheer when our leader gives us the signal,
a Nixonette said, 'before and after President Nixon speaks' ... "

Just sharing some fond memories here on this blog.


Franz said...

Beautiful story, I don't knew the Nixonettes
Your beautiful photos, congratulations!
Ciao,have i beautiful weekend!!

Shady Del Knight said...

...and a lovely Nixonette you were, Cindy. I suspect that you would have looked great in paper or even a burlap bag if it was required of you! (LOL) You also would have made a fine Dellette at my Shady Dell! Have a wonderful weekend, dear friend!

Clint said...

Damn!---You are soooo pretty! Great post from your past!

Nova said... were and you still are a beauty.

Thanks for sharing the story.

Greetings over the Atlantik

Sabine said...

nice foto. You look younger than ever today.
Greetings Sabine


How cute! Nixonettes:-) it's so much fun reminiscing about the past. LOL to the paper uniforms. You still look as lovely as ever and gosh you had shampoo model hairstyle then:-)

TinnyMey said...

you looks very good as nixonette but today you look`s good too!

Bitch said...

You didn't change much!!

Emma said...

Wow, what a great story! Love the photo of you, you're still as glamorous as you were then!

Anonymous said...

Just googled "Nixonette" and was so surprised to find your story......I too was a Nixonette in Boston, MA in 1972 as a sophomore at Melrose High School, Melrose, MA. I went on an errand with a friend to the Boston Richard Nixon Reelection Headquarters and was approached by a man, who I was told was one of the Chase Manhattan Bank family. He asked me if I would like to be a Nixonette at a fundraiser to reelect President Nixon and to be a part of a show with Bob Hope and others. I was so young and couldn't imagine that what he was proposing was true. But it sure was.
I will never forget it. There were thousands of protesters outside of the Boston Armory when we pulled up to the event. We were literally lifted up by both arms by Secret Service and wisked into the building as people with painted faces and signs chanted in protest of the war. They tipped over cars and burned him in efigee. The Secret Service were everywhere talking into their little microphones and waiting for word whether the President would be able to land or not. He didn't show, I'm sure due to the security risks. But Mrs. Pat Nixon was there.
I believe there were 6 of us local girls in our navy blue short skirts, white tops with our Nixonette sashes and tophats with red,white & blue bands lined up on each step leading up to the stage. I was on the top step. Lionnel Hampton and his band were on the stage ready to play a campaign song "We Need Nixon" to which we were about to perform a little song and dance number with Bob Hope. I was so excited to see the man whom I had admired so much for his work with the troops coming up the stairs toward me. I turned and whispered something to the girl next to me and he stopped right on my step. He proceeded to make a joke and turn to me and say there's a wise guy in every bunch. I felt my face turning purple with embarrassment and he kissed me on the cheek! I whispered to him that I would never wash my cheek again! We performed our song and dance number. It was so incredibly nerve wracking and thrilling. And it seemed like it was all over in a flash. All I remember seeing in the audience were big bright lights glaring from the TV folks and cameras flashing and the stage lighting that was blinding. There were other performers that night including Ethel Merman, Frankie Fontaine (funny guy), and others I can't even remember. We had a chance after the show to go and sit with Mrs. Nixon briefly. She was lovely.
I especially remember why they didn't let us near the windows to see what was going on outside at all that night, as I snuck a peak. It was chaos outside while we were having the time of our lives. Disappointed not to meet the President that night. But we had an opportunity to go to meet Air Force One land in Rhode Island days later and did get the opportunity to meet the President after all. Thrilling! Many years have passed and I am in search of any photos or home videos of the event to share with family and friends. I only have a couple of newspaper articles about the protesting of the event and one small article from a local paper which mentions me.
It was an experience as a young girl that I will always treasure. Especially the kiss from Mr. Wonderful - Bob Hope.
Loved reading your story!
Deborah M.