Remembering the day Richard Nixon came to town

Louie Deisbeck, a photographer for the Glendale News-Press for many years, first experienced the thrill of the newspaper chase when vice presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon came to town in 1952.

He recalls, "One day, when I was still in art school, I stopped by the News-Press to see photographer Sal Felix. He told me Nixon was coming to City Hall. I went. Sal was across the street and I was in the crowd. I got the photo [of Nixon] as he spoke from the City Hall steps."

His freelance shot of Nixon was printed on the front page of the News-Press the next day, Nov. 1, next to Felix's crowd shot. Deisbeck has donated a laminated copy of that front page, along with many other items, to the Special Collections Room at the Central Library and the copy provides a glimpse of local politics in 1952.

Publisher Carroll W. Parcher went out on a limb in his column, "In My Opinion," predicting that the Eisenhower/Nixon ticket would win; even though, he wrote, many pollsters said it was too close to call. An editorial called for a Republican turnout. In another article, first-time voter John Bradley commented that it was every citizen's job to assure good government through his vote.

Deisbeck, who graduated from Hoover High in 1949, was hired by the newspaper in 1957 when Hap Everett was managing editor.

"We had a circulation of 29,000 in those days," Deisbeck said. "We had a deadline of 12:30 p.m. The type had to be on the press by a certain time so it could be on the news racks by evening. This was on Isabel Street, a two-story building. The press ? it was still hot type in those days ? was in the back and when the press started, the building started shaking.

"We had a lot of freedom in those days. I might spend two hours having coffee at a fire station, or spend time in the courthouse. I just went in through the back door. I knew all the judges, we lunched. I was on a first-name basis with all the mayors."

He recalled when he first started out and met E.C. "Cal" Cannon, then mayor.

"He told me, 'just call me by my first name.' I know more ex-mayors than anyone else," Deisbeck said with a laugh.

Because of his connections, he got calls from police and fire dispatchers to go out on a call, a fire or a robbery, or another story. Deisbeck took the photo, returned to the paper and started developing it while the reporter was still out in the field calling in the story.

"When we took pictures, we printed extra copies and gave them away," he said. "It was the best public relations. I still see police and firemen today, they say, 'Louis, I still have that photo.'

"George Goshorn did our cartoons every week. He would ask me, 'Do we have a picture of, say, Norm Hayhurst?' We'd give him an 8 x 10. He'd put it on an enlarger and trace the face, then add a body and write a pertinent phrase below.

"The guys were family in those days. The city-hall reporter, the police and fire-department reporters, we would all get together often and bring food. I still hear from some of them at Christmastime."

Deisbeck also did freelance work.

"Richard 'Dick' Garcia, an ex-mayor, had a restaurant called Mr. D's," he said. "I decorated it with pictures. It was on Pacific Avenue where Acapulco's is now."

John Lawson Jr. hired him to document Casey Stengel's New York Yankee baseball memorabilia.

"There were thousands of items, trophies, photos, baseballs," he said. "He offered them to the city. They declined. People would have come from all over the place to see it."

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