"I have always viewed this project not as a monument to a man but as a way to study and remember the events of an exciting time in our nation's history," said former President Richard M. Nixon through a spokesman Wednesday. He was refering to the library that will be built in his name.
"That is why I have insisted the project be oriented not toward the handful of professors who visit presidential libraries every month to look at papers," he said, "but toward the tens of thousands of people who will come to see the exhibits."
Nixon, who lives in New Jersey, will not attend today's formal ground-breaking ceremony in Yorba Linda. His daughters, Julie Nixon Eisenhower and Tricia Nixon Cox, will be present to "share that moment in history," he said.
But Nixon said he and his wife, Pat, will be there in spirit and are "delighted" that the library project will be next to his birthplace. "By visiting the restored birthplace, visitors will be able to see how people lived in rural Orange County around the turn of the century, just before Southern California began the tremendous growth they see around them today." Local Nixon loyalists and some starry types have also said yes to sharing today's moment in history, which will be topped off tonight with a $1,000 per-person reception and dinner at the Anaheim Hilton.
Bob Hope plans to attend. And so do Merv Griffin, Eva Gabor, Betty White and Peter O' Malley, who will be guests of Helen Boehm, the New York philanthropist and chairman of the Boehm Porcelain Studios in Trenton, N.J.
Boehm, along with Maurice H. Stans, chief fund-raiser for the library foundation, will make presentations of Boehm porcelain to library donors of $25,000 or more. Up for the pricey plaques are: Dr. Armand Hammer; Donald Bren; George Argyros; Athalie Clarke; Don Koll; Carl Karcher; Gavin Herbert and Dr. Arnold Beckman.
How Sweet the Sound: Celebrated pianist Ronnie Kole will open with Dixieland jazz when he performs at "Bourbon Street Comes to Orange County" tonight at Steve Mansfield's home in Huntington Harbour. But he'll top off his set with "Amazing Grace," which he played for the Pope during his visit last year to Louisiana. "That was a once-in-a-lifetime" experience, said Kole, who lives 40 miles from New Orleans.
Kole is no stranger to performing for world leaders. He has caressed the ivories for former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. And, at the recent GOP convention in New Orleans, he teamed with trumpeter Al Hirt to play "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" for President Reagan as he disembarked from Air Force One.
The sounds of Kole and the Creole cooking of Bertha Pichon will highlight the "friend-raiser" for the proposed Wellness Community of Orange County, a free, nonprofit program for cancer patients.
(You heard it here: The dream of local Wellness Community organizers such as Orange County Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder is to have a benefit concert at the Performing Arts Center featuring Kole, Hirt and Pete Fountain.)
On tonight's party menu: crab meat au gratin cups; oyster patties; seafood gumbo; jambalaya; crawfish; shrimp Creole and two down-home desserts--bread pudding with rum sauce and pecan tarts. Departing guests will get to take home holiday boxes stuffed with Bertha's own recipes and additional helpings of dessert.
Come Saturday morning, Kole, who with his wife, Gardner ("I call her my American Express card," Kole said, "I never leave home without her"), will stay at Irv and Harriett Wieder's. Then he's off to Minnesota where he will perform at the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints.
Taking the A Plane: It's official. A Boeing 737 jet with a round-trip price tag of about $75,000 has been lined up for the local GOP heavyweights who will attend George Bush's inauguration. The per-couple price has not been established, but the happy campers will lodge at the Radisson Park Terrace Hotel. About 150 people will board an America West charter in Orange County on Jan. 17 and return on Jan. 21. The Grand Old Shebang is being organized by the Lincoln Club of Orange County.
Skoal!Along with film star Ann-Margret, Henry Segerstrom, managing partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, will receive the Royal Order of the Polar Star from Ingemund Bengtsson, former speaker of the Swedish Parliament, on Tuesday. The presentation will take place at the residence of Swedish Consul General Margareta Hegardt in Beverly Hills. Segerstrom, of Swedish descent, is receiving the royal nod for his contributions to the causes of Sweden in the United States.