Richard Nixon

What’s up at Walla Walla Regional Airport

Walla Walla onion_edited

What’s that giant onion doing at Washington’s Walla Walla Regional Airport?

Besides being a shiny distraction for those waiting for their bags at the tiny airport’s baggage carousel, the onion artwork celebrates the area’s most famous crop – Walla Walla Sweet Onions.

You’ll find a few other treats at ALW airport.

In the ticket lobby, a plexiglass case displays a impressive collection of luggage tags one couple collected during their travels.

walla walla tags

A small alcove filled with photos and clippings tells the history and highlights of the airport, including the day in 1971 when Richard Nixon stopped by on his way to Alaska.

Nixon in Walla Walla

And once you pass by security to the waiting area at the airport’s one gate, you’ll find a machine offering complimentary coffee and a “take one/leave one” bookcase.

WALLA WALLA free coffee

Walla Walla free books

Museum Monday: Richard Nixon arm wrestles George McGovern

The death on Sunday, October 21st of George McGovern – who ran an unsuccessful campaign for president in 1972 against Richard Nixon – gives me the opportunity to offer a sneak preview of something that will be in my new book about things museums have that are rarely shown to the public.

Tucked away at the  Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California is a plaster sculpture that depicts Richard Nixon and George McGovern arm-wrestling.

The sculpture was made in 1972 by art students at Lancaster Country Day School in Lancaster, PA. who had just been to see an exhibit of work by George Segal at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They class traveled to Washington, D.C. to deliver the sculpture to the White House and it is now in storage at the Nixon museum in California with what may be thousands of other gifts given to the former president.

A curator told me that the museum can’t put this sculpture on display because it’s been damaged.

“One of the feet is broken. One of the hands is cracked. We’d need a get a conservator to fix the plaster.”

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing with Nixon and the astronauts

July 20th is the 40th anniversary of the moon landing and there will be loads of celebrations and commemorations around the country.  You can read about many of the events on the NASA Web site, but two events of special note are the Summer Moon Festival in Wapakoneta, Ohio (Neil Armstrong’s home town) and Splashdown 2009, on the USS Hornet, the ship tasked with plucking the Columbia capsule containing the three astronauts out of the Pacific Ocean.

The Summer Moon Festival (July 13 -20, 2009) seems especially intriguing, because in addition to the World’s Largest Moon Pie, the town is promising visitors that they’ll get to see (and nibble on?) a life-size statue of an astronaut made entirely of, you guessed it, cheese.

This “sample” cheese astronaut is “just” 40 pounds, but I’m sure you  get the picture…

Wapokaneta, Ohio - Astronaut of cheese(Photo courtesy The Cheese Lady:

The USS Hornet’s Splashdown 2009 event (July 23-26) will be fun as well, especially if they display this photo of then President Richard Nixon telling jokes to the astronauts while they were in a quarantine capsule (in case they had “moon germs”) on the USS Hornet.

USS HORNET Nixon Telling Borman Joke RGB-1

Photo from the book Hornet Plus Three: The Story of the Apollo 11 Recovery, by Bob Fish.