Schulenberg’s Page: Still trying to process the year of 1973

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July 1973: So President Nixon had been re-elected earlier in the year — and by a landslide!

Months later, we were still trying to process this.

George Booth, in a memorable cartoon he’d drawn for The New Yorker, had put it this way before the election.

“Has everybody got it now? If President Nixon wins, Buren, Irene, Aunt Irma and Uncle Earl strike up «Hail to the Chief!» If it’s McGovern, Granny goes it alone on the trombone.”

I’m wondering if today this would be called elitist or disrespectful of the “real people” who live in what is dismissively called “the fly-over-not-on-one-of-the-coasts-states”.  

Humor appears to have been become sensitized in the time since 1972 when this appeared.

But be that as it may, Nixon was sworn in on January 20th, 1973. Lyndon Johnson died two days later on the 22nd and the next day Nixon announced that a peace accord had been reached in Vietnam.  With the signing of the Paris Peace Accords on the 27th, U.S. involvement in the war ended.

1, 2, 3!

But in March, after being discovered as being one of 5 participants in a 1972 burglary at the Watergate complex, James McCord named former Attorney General John Mitchell, the head of the Committee to Re-elect the President, as the boss of the whole burglary operation!

What ensued was the uncovering of illegal practices by many members of the Nixon administration, 69 indictments with 48 people, many of whom were top officials being found guilty and the beginning of an impeachment process against President Nixon.

On July 13, during preliminary court proceedings it was discovered that there was an elaborate sound-activated taping system that recorded everything in the Oval Office, Nixon’s private office, the Cabinet Room and several other rooms.

That evening, I went with Bob Stone, Barbara Minty (a very successful model who was Bob’s girlfriend at the time), and Paul Bartel to Lincoln Center, which was having a virtual love-fest of Disney film screenings.

We’d met across the street at The Ginger Man for dinner before the screening, but Bob became sick after having a bad reaction from alcohol, and he and Barbara had to leave — missing the screening of Alice in Wonderland.

Earlier that week I’d been busy meeting with art directors and agencies.  It had been a very active time with a different deadline every day!

My rep was delighted (and so was I!) but it wasn’t easy turning out work and then having to go and take meetings all over town and grabbing a quick lunch wherever possible.

And it was hot and muggy!

Barbara, Bob, Paul and I had gone to the first Disney screening and afterwards had gone back to Paul’s apartment for another dessert.

The next evening, another Disney screening, another dinner at The Ginger Man!

Paul had decided to grow his hair long — but since there was nothing on top it was a little disconcerting. But it did give him the dramatic look of a 19th century poet!

Then, the following Thursday, Disney/Ginger Man — it was becoming routine!  Actually it was a great unwinding for me even if I did have to go home afterwards to work.

On Friday (the 13th) my French “sister” Katia invited me to an evening at the apartment of her friend, Eric Roper.  Eric had a classy East Coast air; and with Katia’s obviously Parisian elegance they were a very attractive couple.

Since that Friday the 13th had been the day that it had been revealed that there were recorded tapes in the White House, the conversation centered around speculation about Nixon’s involvement in what was turning out to be a major scandal!

Was there a cover-up?

How much did the President know?

Would we ever know?

Since I was already on the West Side I stopped by my cousin Adrienne Albert’s apartment on Central Park West.

She was married to John McClure, an executive at Columbia Records.  He was Igor Stravinsky’s producer and Adrienne, a singer, had recorded a solo with Stravinsky.

As I left their apartment it was a beautiful night with a full moon. As I waited for a cab I couldn’t resist drawing it shining over Central Park, a futile task but a reminder of a warm summer night in Manhattan!

The following Monday I got a call from Michael Weil, the son of my mother’s friends in Fresno.  He was living in New York and called to tell me that his parents were in town and were inviting me to dinner.

We went to The Ginger Man but this night there was no Disney screening!

It was, however, the day that the existence of an elaborate taping system in the White House was announced on live television and suddenly the whole Watergate investigation was transformed into a horrific reality!

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