The Chattanooga, Tennessee Times-Free Press has an article by Adam Crisp this week about Dr. George Akers, a retired resident of the Volunteer State who spent his career as an educator in Adventist-affiliated universities. In 1970, he was the president of what was then Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland, now Washington Adventist University.
One day, he took some of his students on a picnic in the beautiful Cacotin mountains northwest of Washington, near the Pennsylvania line. On the way back, the group spotted the entrance to Camp David, the Presidential retreat. The students and Dr. Akers approached the guard’s post, simply planning to wave and move on. But then something unexpected occurred.
Dr. Akers, as it happened, bore a very striking resemblance to President Nixon, which had scarcely escaped the notice of his students. (Indeed, the Nashville Tennessean, when featuring Crisp’s article on its site, includes a photograph of Akers, in 1968, standing next to a giant photo of RN. Although he’s not quite as complete a dead ringer as James La Roe aka “Richard M. Dixon” was (for one thing, he looks slightly more like the President’s brother Ed than RN himself), Dr. Akers still looked a lot like the Chief Executive.
As the car approached the guard’s station, one of the students opened the window and said to the Marine stationed there: “Our president is coming through.” This was said facetiously, and, indeed, was true, since Dr. Akers was a president, albeit not of the United States. But that was unknown to the Marine, who took one look at the passenger and, despite the fact that he was in a green Cadillac and not the usual black limo, opened the gate, picked up the phone, and announced that RN was coming in.
The party on the other line, surprised, explained that the President was already in the compound. Whereupon the marine approached the Cadillac, asked the passengers to step out, and detained them for some time, until the guards and Secret Service were satisfied that no harm was intended and that Dr. Akers and his students had not been planning to trespass in Camp David.
Dr. Akers is both amused by what happened, and regretful that the Marine was embarrassed by his student’s jest. In a way, the article illustrates how different those times were. Nowadays, one assumes – or, at least given the brouhaha involving Tareq and Michaele Salahi, one hopes – that advanced technology makes it possible to detect when the real President is approaching as opposed to a lookalike.