Do You Still Get a Paper?

Southeast Missourian under car 10-14-2006While looking for a picture I had taken on one of our vacations back to Cape, I ran across this 2006 picture of a Missourian under my van. Who knows why I shot it? Maybe I wanted to gripe if it was a pattern.

That got me thinking about my changing newspaper habits. When I used to go on a road trip, Wife Lila would give me a $10 roll of quarters to drop in newspaper vending machines outside motels and eateries along the way. I gradually stopped doing that when dinky dailies wanted a buck or more for 12 pages of mostly advertising and press releases.

I realized the other day that I left West Palm Beach on March 17, and, so far as I can remember, haven’t bought a single paper along the way. Even when I was in motels that gave them away free, I didn’t bother to grab one from the lobby.

Still a news junkie

Papers for Ken's Paper Route
Papers for Ken’s Paper Route 1961

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a news junkie. When I get up in the morning, I check for email and Facebook messages, then I turn to the USA Today ap on my tablet (I’m not crazy about USA Today, but their ap is clean and easy to use). After that, I check out Google News. If I have a lot of time, I’ll visit Digg. The other day The New York Times offered me three months of digital access for $5. I’ll cancel it just before it jumps to five bucks a week.

I’ll dip into The Missourian’s website (which I pay for) and take a quick glance at The Palm Beach Post’s headlines.

Even with my employee discount, The Post subscription costs enough that Lila and I debate renewing it now that has become the Incredible Shrinking Newspaper. The other night I told her she could stop saving them up for me like she’s done on all my other trips. “I’ve already seen the world, state, and regional news and comics online, and I don’t care about who was shot or in a car wreck overnight.”

The Three Bs

Post Editor Eddie Sears used to say that newspapers would survive because of the Three Bs: Breakfast, Bathroom and Beach. I’m OK with the first two and never go to the beach, so I’m not so sure survival is in the cards.

Walmart Marketing Fail

Rubbermaid storage container Walmart 03-01-2015When you have as much old stuff as I do, and you are constantly shifting it around as it is scanned, published, or just set aside, you need lots of storage boxes. I’ve found over the years that clear plastic boxes with sturdy lids do the best job.

With that need in mind, I set off for Walmart the other night. I’m not crazy about the big box store, but they usually have a wide selection of boxes and bins.

This one looked like it was going to be perfect: it had the right dimensions, had a great lid, and, best of all, it was “virtually unbreakable” enough that it came with a limited 10-year warranty.

There’s only one problem

Rubbermaid storage container Walmart 03-01-2015There was only one flaw: this is what I found when I went to pick up the “virtually unbreakable” bin.

Some times a picture tells the whole story.

Nixon and a Pigskin Purse

Pigskin coin purse from Mexico c 1949; gift to KLS from Elsie WelchMy original headline read “Stuck in the Sock Drawer,” but I changed it because “Nixon” will score higher with the search engines.

Even that headline was a little misleading, because we’re not going to talk about my exact sock drawer, although there ARE a lot of weird things hiding in there, too.

Many years ago, my grandmother gave me a good wooden¬† box that was probably supposed to hold jewelry. It’s been a catchall for heirlooms of no real value, something that became apparent when our house was burgled a few years ago.

The crooks made off with some of Wife Lila’s jewelry that was rich in sentimental value, but not worth much in dollars. The mopes didn’t even bother to root through my box.

Maybe they feared the curse of the pigskin purse, a souvenir my grandmother, Elsie Welch, brought back from Mexico (the country, not the county seat of Audrain County, MO, where the annual Miss Missouri pageant is held) when I was about two years old.

I never had much money as a kid, so the poor pig was always pretty skinny. Now, nearly seven decades later, he still hasn’t put on much weight.

Elvis Presley and President Nixon

Richard Nixon presidential cufflinks given to KLS by Ollie AtkinsOllie Atkins, President Richard Nixon’s official photographer, was a speaker at a National Press Photographers Association conference I attended. To be honest, I thought Atkins was a pretty pedestrian photographer kept around for dull grip ‘n’ grin shots of dignitaries. His photos perfectly captured the wooden Richard Nixon.

One of his images, though, according to a 2012 story in The Guardian, is one of the most requested images in the National Archives and Records Administration, more popular even than the Bill of Rights or the Constitution of the United States. It’s the photo of Dick Nixon and Elvis Presley shaking hands after a secret meeting in the White House.

Presley wrote Nixon a six-page letter requesting a meeting with the president and suggesting he be made a “Federal Agent at Large” in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The events leading up to and after the meeting are detailed in the documentation and photographs included at this link, which include Presley’s handwritten letter, memoranda from Nixon staff and aides, and the thank-you note from Nixon for the gifts (including a Colt 45 pistol and family photos) that Presley brought with him to the Oval Office.

Nixon cufflinks

Richard Nixon presidential cufflinks given to KLS by Ollie AtkinsFrom time to time during the conference, the moderator would draw numbers for door prizes. After Ollie’s presentation, he reached into the box and pulled out mine. Instead of some cool photo equipment, I was presented a pair of presidential cufflinks. That prize was especially ironic because, up until I picked Bill Hopkins to run my campaign for student body president of Central High School, I thought I might get to wear a set of cufflinks like these some day.

They have never been out of the box. When I scanned them tonight, I pulled the lining of the box out to see if anything cool, like the nuclear launch codes or something, was behind them. I am sad to report the bottom of the box was empty.

You can click on the photos to make them larger, but ignore all the white specks: I didn’t bother to dust the plush lining in the box.

Matchless Nixon

Nikon Air Force 1 matches given to KLSOllie must have sweetened the pot by tossing in a box of matches from Air Force One.

I beat the devil

Nikon Air Force 1 matches given to KLSWhile I was looking at the unused book of presidential matches, I thought of Kris Kristofferson’s song, To Beat the Devil, about a down-and-out guitar player. It contains the line, “I ain’t sayin’ I beat the devil, but I drank his beer for nothing. Then I stole his song.”

Well, I never got to be President, but I ended up with his cufflinks and his matches.

Other encounters with Richard Nixon

Nixon for Presidents’ Day

Richard Nixon in Columbus 10-19-1970First off, I have no idea what the real name for the holiday is. When I Googled it, it came up as Presidents’ Day, Presidents Day and President’s Day. I’ll go with Presidents’ Day.

Richard Nixon was probably one of my least-favorite presidents, but he’s also the POTUS I photographed more than all the rest.

Here he was in Columbus, Ohio, on October 18, 1970. President Richard’s Nixon’s Daily Diary said he was in town to stump for Robert Taft, Congressman, and Roger Cloud, Gubernatorial candidate. You can find his whole diary for October 16 – 31 here, if you are a real political junkie.

Uncharacteristically rumpled

Richard Nixon in Columbus 10-19-1970I was surprised to see a rumpled Nixon arrive at the rally. It must have been a rough flight.

Great access

Richard Nixon in Columbus 10-19-1970When I looked through the pictures, I was amazed at the level of access I had that day. I was all over the place and didn’t appear to have any problems with security. Considering that this was after all the assassinations in 1968 and only five months after four students were gunned down at Kent State, I would have thought security would be tighter.

I learned early on (holy cow, I was only 23 when I shot these) that the best way to get into situations is to act like you belong there. If you hesitate, somebody is going to challenge you.

Then, I’m going to guess that I read when the scrum was going to head to the ropeline and I got there early enough that the SS guys could get a good read on me. The fact that my hands were always visible clutching a camera probably gave them a level of comfort. Once the party started moving, I stayed as fluid as possible, staying as close to the president as possible, but never stopping. In some frames, I have a secret service guy on my left and my right, but they never made an attempt to block me.

Look for the lapel pins

Richard Nixon in Columbus 10-19-1970It’s pretty easy to spot the protective detail: they are the guys with the triangular lapel pins and the roving eyes or eyes hidden by sunglasses.

I wonder, too, if, once they figured I wasn’t a threat, they calculated that the skinny guy with the camera was just another bullet barrier that was expendable.

While covering Nixon at a golf tournament during the height of the Watergate scandal, we were kept well back from him. Suddenly, though, the detail motioned that would could approach his golf cart. He wouldn’t answer any questions, but that was as close as we got to him that day.

Later, an agent said they had an unconfirmed report of a gun in the crowd and we were called in as a screen. I never found out if he was pulling my leg or not.

President Nixon photo gallery

Here’s a whole stack of Richard Nixon photos. If they aren’t enough, I also photographed him in Charlotte, N.C. a year later, when he appeared with Billy Graham on Billy Graham Day.

Click on any photo to maker it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery.