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Richard M. Nixon

 

One of the scenes in my story involves former Vice President Richard M. Nixon in the immediate aftermath of the inauguration of John F. Kennedy as president. This story has never been reported until now.

My father was an economist in the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department. His office was located in the Securities and Exchange Building near the Capitol. Dad came home from work and told our family about his encounter with the former vice president earlier that day.

He said he had arrived at work that morning and the entire building was buzzing with the gossip that Nixon was in a temporary office in the basement of their building. He said everyone was looking for various excuses to go downstairs and see the former presidential candidate in the flesh, and he decided to yield to his curiosity too.

He made his way to Nixon's basement office and found a shocking sight. He said he saw Nixon standing knee-deep in papers slung wall to wall. The former V.P. had a couple of secretaries who were trying to sort through the mess, but Dad said Nixon looked truly miserable. When one of the secretaries made eye contact with my father, he asked what was going on and got an unexpected answer.

"The Kennedys did this," she replied. She went on to explain, "We had carefully sorted, collated, boxed, and labeled all of Vice President Nixon's papers after the election in preparation for the change of administrations. It's historical protocol for the possessions of the old adminstration to be moved out of their offices during the swearing-in ceremony to allow the new adminstration to move in. The V.P.'s papers were picked up by the movers and brought over here to these temporary offices to be held until they were to be shipped to their final destination. However, the Kennedys gave orders to the movers to open all of Vice President Nixon's boxes and to dump the contents on the floor. It was simply a terribly mean and spiteful thing to do, as well as completely unnecessary."

Even though my father was a confirmed Nixon hater from way back, he said he actually felt sorry for Nixon, seeing him standing forlornly in the midst of all of the chaos of his personal files.

This story was my first inkling into the cruel temperment of JFK and RFK. Even I thought it was a childish and needlessly heartless prank on their part.