Richard Nixon, Strawberry Nightdresses and Me ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 213

In 1974, the August Bank Holiday Weekend in Ireland fell a week into the month and ran from Friday 9th -Monday 12th.

That weekend was one of the most important in my life as I was in hospital in the Orthopedic Hospital in Navan, Co. Meath having an operation on my right wrist which was completely banjaxed. I was waiting for my Leaving Certificate results  but all that was on my mind was getting to America on a tennis scholarship to follow my dreams.

I had the operation on the Friday and was waiting from noon onwards on the Saturday for the surgeon to come to the ward to deliver the news of what he had found and whether the path I had carved out for myself could become a reality.

I was almost seventeen and had developed a bit of an eye for fashion. In spite of the pain and being still pretty zonked, I put on what I thought was a stunning white nightdress that had a lovely strawberry pattern.  I thought that a dash of some of the fancy talcum powder that my Aunt had given me wouldn’t go astray either ~ anything to lure good news out of the surgeon who had worked  so tirelessly to try and get me back on court.

Just as the One O’Clock News came on,  he arrived into the ward, still dressed in surgical greens.  He came over to my bed and stopped dead.  News of the resignation of Richard Nixon over the Watergate Affair was in full flow on the radio and the surgeon, who had been out of circulation from early on the 9th in the operating theatre, was learning about it for the first time.

Richard Nixon Resignation Speech, August 1974

Yes, a major moment in world history; yes, American accents that had my heart beating all the faster but what about my personal connections with America?  Would I be going or not?

Unlike Richard Nixon, the news for me that day was not so black and white ~ dreams kept alive for another while but still the  gnawing doubt and a life long lesson about strawberry-patterned nightdresses!

Can you remember where you were when Richard Nixon resigned?

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

13 thoughts on “Richard Nixon, Strawberry Nightdresses and Me ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 213”

  1. I love this. Isn’t it amazing the things you remember and how you connect them with events in your own life? I look at pictures of my kids as babies and figure out which one’s which by what I’m wearing and my hair style! They all looked so alike as babies. Great story.x

    1. Thanks very much for writing. I totally agree about ‘selective memory! I’m always waiting for a quiz about Richard Nixon’s resignation which I will remember always for all the wrong reasons!

    1. Hi SV, the nightdress was something else! It was white cotton with the most realistic strawberries you could imagine. And the talc was very ‘sophis.’ My wonderful Aunt Edna knew just what a 16 year old in hospital for the first time would need. I kept bot the nightie and the talc for years and years……

  2. funny how certain things stick in your memory… I can’t find my car keys but I know I was in a truck stop in Liberal Kansas watching the news when Nixon resigned….

    1. Hi, thanks for writing. I’m not too sure what a ‘truck stop’ in 1974 would have been like and to tell the truth I’m not too sure what one would look like now in Kansas. We didn’t do ‘truck stops’ in Ireland way back then but have a few notable ones here now.

  3. Ha ha I’m with Silver Voice ^^ I was never attuned to world affairs as a youngster but I vividly remember the Aberfan disaster (1966) didn’t bring just my usual shoulder shrug.

    1. Roy, I seemed to be more attuned than most to world affairs as a youngster and spent my time making JKK speeches to the nation using the grip of my tennis racket as a mic!

      The Aberfan Disaster had a huge impact on me too. It was soooooooooo close to home and so incredibly poignant.

  4. My mom always talks about where she was when Kennedy was assassinated but I’ve never heard anyone talk about when Nixon resigned! Funny how big events jar our memories. (My grandfather was from Navan! Much like Pierce Brosnan…)

    1. Hi Jennifer, yes I think most people of a certain age have vivid recall about JFK’s assassination. I’ve never heard anyone else talking about Nixon’s resignation either.
      For me, that Saturday will be etched in my memory forever and I must day I was far more concerned about own ‘problems’ than his!

  5. I recall exactly what world events were happening on the four occasions I was in hospital, mainly because I hated being there. Evidently I was perfectly content when Nixon resigned. I`ve no recollection of it whatsoever, nor, indeed, of where I was on the first weekend of Aug 1974. I am pretty sure it wasn`t some place exciting, though.

    1. Hi RH, interestingly I can’t remember anything about any other world events that happened during my various hospitalisations. That one in 1974 was my first and amazingly I was back in the same place a year to the day having another op on my wrist. I would go as far as to say that I’m allergic to hospitals ~ as I suspect most people are ~ but significantly those two early experiences went on to play a huge role in my eventual career choice to be a medical sociologist (when tennis was ruled out because of the injury.) I felt there was a huge need for friendly faces in hospitals to help people of all ages (and their families) to cope with the issues that arise. That belief has never left me all these years on!

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