The Bergen Record‘s Phil Jennings recounts President Nixon’s 1989 visit to a New Jersey school that bears his name:
Nixon, then 76 and living in Saddle River, applauded throughout several student presentations and appeared in a cheerful mood throughout his visit. Spotting someone in Mets gear, he said that he, too, was a fan – but also of the Yankees.
He handed over 350 cards he autographed after assuring the students, ranging from kindergarten to third grade, that he personally signed every one, rather than using a machine.
“When I have spare time, I like to come to a school like this,” Nixon said in a crowd-pleasing response to the first of several student questions; this one about what he liked to do with his free time.
Other questions focused on the Soviet Union, which was the topic cited by the school in inviting Nixon. He recounted his 1959 appearance on Soviet television as vice president and recited a Russian phrase meaning, “I’m very happy to meet you.”
In 1989, nuclear war by nations, not terrorist attacks plotted by individuals, was the great fear among U.S. school children.
Nixon told the Roxbury children that nations who had the power to destroy others, and themselves, must show restraint and offered an analogy tailored to his audience: “If you disagree with one of your classmates, you don’t have to take your fist to him.”