A Look Back in Time: Lewis County Residents Support Richard Nixon Following His 1952 ‘Checkers Speech’

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Lewis County was reported by The Chronicle as showing its support for Richard Nixon on Sept. 24, 1952. At the time, Nixon was a U.S. senator from California running with Dwight Eisenhower as the Republican vice presidential nominee. The Chronicle ran three stories on Nixon in its Sept. 24 edition, all pertaining to Nixon’s televised speech addressing allegations of impropriety regarding an expense account he used as a U.S. senator. According to one of the stories, the fund consisted of $18,235 raised by 76 residents of Southern California.

“The young GOP vice-presidential nominee rested his fate in an unprecedented TV-radio appeal to the American public,” The Chronicle reported. “He left the question of his removal from the Republican ticket squarely up to the party’s national committee.”

Nixon denied any wrongdoing, declaring “not one cent of the $18,000 ever went to me for my personal use … Every penny of it was used to pay for political expenses that I did not think should be charged to the taxpayers of the United States.”

During Nixon’s address, the senator told the audience to “wire and write the Republican National Committee whether you think I should stay or whether I should get off …  And whatever their decision is, I will abide by it.”

Perhaps most famously, during his speech Nixon declared there was one gift he had received, a cocker spaniel his children had named Checkers.

“And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re going to keep it,” Nixon declared.

Nixon’s decision to mention his family’s dog, leading the speech to be commonly known as the “Checkers speech,” proved successful. According to The Chronicle, a flood of telegrams and phone calls, including from Lewis County, came in following Nixon’s “dramatic offer.”

“Minutes after Sen. Richard Nixon … finished his precedent-setting address in Los Angeles Tuesday night, hundreds of requests were made for the address (which Nixon had failed to mention) of the National Republican Committee,” The Chronicle reported. “For Daily Chronicle readers, the address is: Republican National Committee, 923 15th Street, N.W. Washington, D.C.”

The Chronicle reported letters postmarked from Chehalis and Centralia containing donations to Nixon’s “controversial” expense account had begun appearing in California, sent to Dana Smith, the account’s custodian.

Some of the letters from the Twin Cities began arriving before Nixon had even delivered his speech, as Lewis County residents were already being encouraged to show their support for the future president by state Sen. Virgil Lee of Chehalis.

The Eisenhower-Nixon ticket would win Lewis County in the 1952 presidential election with 62.78% of the vote that November. Nixon himself would win the county in each of his three presidential races in 1960, 1968 and 1972.

 

Saturday, Sept. 24, 1932

• A petition claiming to contain the names of 946 Centralia voters was presented to the Centralia City Commission on Friday, Sept. 23. The petition asked for a special election to be called on whether to change Centralia’s form of government from a commission to “that specified by the laws of general use, wherein a mayor and city council would be elected.” A total of 869 valid signatures were required for an election to be called and Centralia City Clerk Jessie Ward was expected to ascertain if there were enough valid signatures. The change in the type of government Centralia would have was being argued for on fiscal grounds. Under the new system, the mayor and seven councilors would not receive a salary, in contrast to the commission system under which the mayor and two commissioners had been getting paid.

• “Centralia’s dream of a (new) federal building was one step nearer today,” The Chronicle reported. It was announced bids would be opened in Washington, D.C., for the design of a new Centralia post office on Oct. 12. The Chronicle reported an appropriation of $110,000 had been made by the U.S. Treasury Department for the new Centralia post office.

• An agreement had been reached in India to meet the demands made by Mahatma Gandhi, who was in his fifth day of a hunger strike. Gandhi’s physician declared his condition was “growing grave” at the time. A plan had been “cabled” to London for the approval of U.K. Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald. In the Associated Press story published by The Chronicle, Gandhi was referred to as “the Mahatma,” and his doctor was reported describing the then 62-year-old as “an old man” who lacked the strength to recover if his hunger strike continued much longer. Gandhi’s hunger strike was in protest of a proposed plan to create separate electorates for the lower classes in the Hindu caste system.

• The weather forecast for Sunday, Sept. 25, was reported as being “fair, moderate temperatures” with moderate winds. The temperature was expected to reach as high as 79 degrees.

• The Rochester Parent-Teacher Association held an annual reception on the night of Friday, Sept. 23, in the high school auditorium. At the reception, teachers were honored, with high school principal J.E. McCleery and grade school principal Ted McArthur addressing the crowd.

• The Chronicle reported the new Unemployed Citizens’’ League of Chehalis was an “energetic and courageous group of men and women” who were giving their attention to the “more fundamental human needs of food, clothes and shelter,” as opposed to spending their time discussing “politics and football” as a majority of local residents were. The group was reported as having cut 45 cords of wood for needy families and given out 800 pounds of salmon and 524 pounds of beef.

• A bridge tourney sponsored by the Centralia Elks was announced on Sept. 24. The second annual event was to begin the evening of Oct. 4. Entries were open to all male residents of Centralia and the surrounding vicinity.

 

Thursday, Sept. 24, 1942

• Rev. Paul Crooks was reported to have been installed as the new pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Chehalis. Crooks, formerly the pastor of the Little Church on the Prairie in Lakeside, had been installed on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 22. Harold Quick, the moderator of the Presbytery, was in charge of the installation ceremony. The ceremony was preceded by a potluck dinner in the church parlor.

• A “Forget-Me-Not Sale” was scheduled by the Lewis County chapter of Disabled American Veterans for Saturday, Sept. 26. According to The Chronicle, proceeds from the annual sale were to go to aid widows and orphans of disabled veterans.



• Two soldiers were reported as robbing a Chehalis man on Sunday, Sept 20. As of Sept. 24, police were still searching for the car stolen from Ted Burrows, who the two soldiers had knocked unconscious as he was entering his apartment. According to Burrows, the “pair hit him over the head, took $75 from him and then made off with his car after he had given them a ride into town from a nearby dance hall,” The Chronicle reported. According to The Chronicle, the police had no clues as to the identity of the soldiers.

• A Chehalis carpenter named Raymond Sabin suffered a broken leg and ankle on Monday, Sept. 21, after falling from scaffolding. Sabin was treated at a hospital before returning home, where he was expected to stay for eight weeks.

• Sadie McCullough Hardy, a 79-year-old resident of Centralia, was found dead at her daughter’s home in Onalaska. Born in 1863, McCullough Hardy was survived by six children and 11 grandchildren.

• “Lewis County must produce at least 160 typewriters for Army and Navy use by this weekend,” The Chronicle reported. The quota was part of the demand from the military that the U.S. give the Army and Navy 600,000 typewriters. The quota for Washington state was set at 8,000. According to The Chronicle, “The War Production Board official explained the Navy at present has only one typewriter for every 128 men, while in business and industry there is one for every five people.” Due to the large amount of paperwork produced through orders, reports, payrolls and other purposes, the lack of typewriters was causing the military “serious difficulties.”

• An advertisement for “three fat heifers” was placed in The Chronicle. According to the ad, the heifers were expected to “freshen” (or produce milk) in November and December.

 

Wednesday, Sept. 24, 1952

• Lewis County voter turnout reached 58.65% in the 1952 primary election, according to Lewis County Auditor Roy Fletcher. A total of 14,433 people cast ballots in Lewis County out of 24,607 registered voters. Fletcher said he expected a higher turnout in the general election on Nov. 4, due to the interest in the presidential election between Republican Dwight Eisenhower and Democrat Adlai Stevenson.

• Lewis County Extension Agent Ralph Roffler declared additional parking was needed in downtown Chehalis to accommodate farmers upon whom the “strength of Chehalis rests.” Roffler argued Chehalis businesses were going “more and more to the outskirts,” because of the limited downtown parking. “It is an immediate problem,” said Roffler. “Two weeks ago when harvest operations were shut down on account of rain, many farmers flocked to town to do their shopping. Many of them were unable to find parking space.” Roffler elaborated, saying farmers were not satisfied with the city’s parking meter system. “I want to see the community develop, and I think with the building of the new state highway the city has a chance to plan some good parking lots,” said Roffler.

• A campaign advertisement for then congressman Henry “Scoop” Jackson appeared in The Chronicle, announcing his appearance on KELA at 6:30 p.m. that night. Jackson was running for a U.S. Senate seat at the time and would win election that November with 56.23% of the vote statewide, serving in the Senate until his death in 1983.

• A two-room apartment was listed for rent at $35 a month. The apartment was described as being upstairs and having “lights, heat and water” as well as “washing facilities.”

• A two-bedroom house on Kelly Avenue in Chehalis was listed for $9,500. The house was described as being “three years old with (an) attached garage.” The house was completely fenced and had a large garden.

• White Pass was described as becoming increasingly popular with tourists, according to a state Highway Commission spokesman. In total, it was estimated that about 170,000 vehicles had passed through White Pass in just the first year since the White Pass Highway had opened.

• “Weary” fire crews had “heartening” news, according to The Chronicle. Rain was being forecast for Western Washington. A storm was expected to reach the Pacific Northwest in the coming days. Apparently forest fires had been burning across the region, with the worst fire raging in British Columbia where over 2,000 acres had been burned. Another fire, in Snoqualmie National Forest, was being fought in Washington by a crew of 450 firefighters.

 

Monday, Sept. 24, 1962

• Lewis County voters were expected to be asked to approve the creation of a Lewis County Airport District in the upcoming November general election. The petition requesting the creation of a county-wide district had 110 signatures, only 100 of which had to be valid to place the proposal on the ballot. The proposal to create an airport district followed a recent controversy over the authority of the airport commission, which had dismissed the airport manager over the protests of pilots.

• The weather forecast for Tuesday, Sept. 25, projected the high temperature to be between 65 and 70 degrees and the low to be between 42 and 47 degrees.

• Washington State Patrol officers arrested 54 people in Lewis County over the weekend of Sept. 22 and 23. Of those 54 arrests, 31 were for speeding, “some of them hitting it up over 80 miles an hour.” An additional five arrests were from minors with liquor, four drivers were charged with “negligent driving” and two were charged with reckless driving for racing.

• A newspaper boy for The Chronicle named Perry Smalley Jr. served as an altar boy at St. Mary’s Parish Church in Raunds, Northants in England during his family’s visit to England over the summer. The church was where Perry’s parents, “Mr. and Mrs. Perry Smalley Sr.,” had been married and where his grandmother and other relatives attended. According to The Chronicle, by coincidence, Perry served as an altar boy on the anniversary of his parent’s wedding in the church.

• An “all electric, remodeled two bedroom house” in Chehalis was listed for $6,800. The house was described as being close to schools and shops and having new wiring and plumbing.

• The Centralia First Presbyterian Church was broken into sometime during the night between Sunday, Sept. 23 and Monday, Sept. 24. Stolen from the church was a $100 typewriter, a $375 tape recorder, a $150 movie projector, a $130 adding machine and a $50 record player.

• The attendance for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair continued to grow over the weekend of Sept. 22 and 23. On Saturday 73,962 people attended the fair with another 58,318 people attending on Sunday. The weekend numbers brought the total attendance to the fair up to 8,095,202 people.