While Richard M. Nixon was the 37th president of the United States (1969-1974), he spent much of his time away from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue for working trips to the southern California coast, where world leaders would travel to conference with him In San Clemente, California. His residence on the beach, Casa Pacifica in Cypress Shores, gave the small town the moniker of the Home of the Western White House.
Richard Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, less than an hours drive from the the tiny coastal town that became his home away from D.C.. With a population at the time of approximately 7,300 inhabitants, San Clemente is located almost exactly between San Diego and Los Angeles, at the southern tip of Orange County, separated from northern San Diego county by Camp Pendleton, the two cities connect via the 5 freeway.
Nearing the end of Nixon’s term in office, I was a junior high school student living across the highway from his compound. Due to overcrowding our school was on a split schedule, half the students would go in the morning until noon the remaining half would come in at noon until about 5:30 PM. We came in at noon, meaning our bus stop time was around 11:30 AM, a bus stop with about 8-10 kids on the newly named Del Presidente Street. It was across the highway overpass (since demolished) in front of my home, next to the entry gate to Cypress Shores, in front of Richard Nixon’s Western White House.
As we stood or sat on the curb waiting for our public school bus late in the mornings that year, there was one common occurrence that fell right in my lap. Vehicles of many sorts would pull up, and people of all sorts would inquire, where is the Presidents home?
I approached every vehicle with a welcome to town smile and offered my assistance…