Richard Nixon, Geoff Fox And A Wollensak Reel-To-Reel Recorder

There was no real purpose for me going to see Richard Nixon, a man I reviled, speak. I thought it might be fun, especially as a member of the working press.


While out in Brooklyn with Matt I saw this Wollensak tape deck at the flea market.

So old. So outmoded. So close to getting me wrestled to the ground by Secret Service agents!

It was October 27, 1970 at the Palm Beach Auditorium and Richard Nixon was speaking. I was working at WMUM, what was then called an ‘underground station,’ located on Palm Beach Island.

There was no real purpose for me going to see Richard Nixon, a man I reviled, speak. I thought it might be fun, especially as a member of the working press.

OK, I was pretending to be a member of the press–but the ruse worked!

I packed up our Wollensak recorder, threw it in my Volkswagen and headed to the venue. As I remember the White House staff set up a ‘mult box’ which provided a clean podium feed to all who needed to record it. I plugged in a cable I’d brought and waited.

When Nixon finally came out to speak I pushed the play and record buttons simultaneously (that’s how you recorded) and watched the reels begin to turn.

A few seconds later there was noise–lots of noise. The Wolly had slipped a belt and was complaining loudly about its state. People were turning to see what was causing the ruckus.

Three tall men in suits with identical abstract buttons on their lapels walked toward me. Two turned their backs while standing between me and the podium. The third asked what was wrong?

“I think it’s a belt,” is what I remember saying as the whir grew louder.

He looked at me and my long hair. He was not happy.

I took my hand, clenched it in a fist and hit the tape recorder hard a little left of center where the counter was. The bigger the problem the bigger the hammer, right?

Silence. All it needed was a zetz!

The Secret Service agents turned and without a word quickly faded into the crowd. I began to breath again.

A Drive To Worth Avenue – Palm Beach, Florida

Thursday in Florida. My mom’s birthday is tomorrow.

Today, we wanted to get out of the house. My choice was to take Steffie somewhere she’d never been… and yet there was still shopping. We headed to Palm Beach and Worth Avenue.

Long before there was Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, there was Palm Beach and Worth Avenue. Beverly Hills is nouveau. Palm Beach is old line.

We crossed onto Palm Beach Island at Southern Boulevard, making the sweeping left around Mar-A-Lago (Hi Donald) and then north on Ocean Boulevard, aka A1A. When we hit Worth Avenue, we turned left.

It was eerie. It looked like the day after a neutron bomb. Worth Avenue had cars parked on both sides of the street, but there was no foot traffic. It looked deserted.

The cars were a show in and of themselves. I saw Ferraris, Masseratis (yes, more than one), Rolls, Mercedes and Porsche. Only on Palm Beach does a Lexus represent Chevy values.

Beyond the curbline around 25% of the shops were still closed for the summer. September… hot and sweaty September… is not the season in Palm Beach.

Stefanie lit up as she looked around and recognized the names. Every high end, decadent, over priced retailer was there.

Guys don’t get it. Certainly, I don’t get it. Stefanie does. It’s been there from birth.

We walked around for an hour or so, then headed south. Steffie left carrying a shopping bag. I can’t tell you more than that as we have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy in the Fox Family.

We took A1A home, passing through Palm Beach, South Palm Beach and Manalapan. It is difficult to fathom the amazing estates that front the ocean and Intracoastal. Some straddle the road and front both.

Mainly the buildings in Palm Beach and along A1A are what I consider “Spanish Mission” style. Whether that’s the real name or not, it’s what I call it. They are appropriate and strikingly beautiful.