It is less than two weeks before Christmas, and no doubt some readers of this blog, for whom no holiday season is complete without some gifts that bring the thirty-seventh President to mind, are a little nervous.
Let’s say you’ve given everyone you know who would truly appreciate such a present a coffee mug with RN meeting Elvis on it.  Or the framed RN-Elvis photo itself.  Or coasters with the Presidential seal.  Or one of those now quite rare copies of Real Peace, from the limited edition that the former President published himself before Little Brown did the trade edition.  Or one of the shirts or the pens or the posters, or the other items at the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace gift shop.

You may wonder: what can you get for this Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, that your favorite Nixon fan would truly love?  A couple of months ago it was announced that Eric Bana would be playing Elvis in an upcoming feature film about the famous 1970 meeting; Danny Huston, son of the late director John and grandson of Walter, is reported to likely be cast as the President, and Princess Bride star Cary Elwes is to direct. But this project is still at a rather early stage so it will be a while before you can stuff the Blu-Ray in your favorite Nixon fan’s stocking.  There will be some new books appearing for the Nixon centennial in 2013, but that’s still a year away.

But there are, I am happy to say, some new items available at the gift shop, which can be readily obtained online.  Two of these have been made to honor First Lady Pat Nixon for her centennial next year: a very pretty Christmas ornament, and an elegant coffee mug.

And, if you’re looking for a present that involves RN as well, there’s a special something that is the work of a Californian lawyer named Paul Carter, working with the artist Jean-Louis Rheault: an illustrated map of Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside counties in the Golden State, showing all the significant sites connected with the lives of Richard and Pat Nixon in that area.  These include not just familiar ones like the birthplace in Yorba Linda, San Clemente, and the locales around Whittier where RN grew up, but places like La Habra Heights, where RN and Pat made their first home above a garage in 1940; Dana Point, where the young lawyer proposed to the schoolteacher; the towns on the eastern side of the San Gabriel Valley where the future President made his name as an attorney; and many other places.  The back of the map usefully supplements the visuals with many highly informative paragraphs about these sites.

A column by the Orange County Register’s Frank Mickadeit describes how the map came into being.  Mr. Carter was still in grade school the year RN left office and, rather atypically for a Nixon fan, grew up with no particular interest in him.  But his mother had made it a point to encourage him to use his spare time for volunteer work, so while completing his education at CSU-Fullerton, he applied for a position as a docent at the Nixon Library not long after it opened in 1990.

In those days, the former President made it a point to visit the Library whenever he was in the area and so Mr. Carter met him several times.  These experiences led him to learn more about the Nixon family’s history in the Southland. Several years ago,  in a conversation with the mayor of Whittier, Mr. Carter asked about the sites in the town connected with RN.  The mayor replied, “We’ve kind of lost track of them.”

The attorney went to work, meticulously tracking down many little-known locations associated with the President and First Lady.  The Register column features a photograph of him presenting the resulting map to David and Julie Eisenhower.  As that picture shows, the map is quite large enough for framing and display.

So for $4.99,  the Library’s gift shop can send it to you, or it can be obtained from Mr. Carter himself at (which also has much else of interest about RN), or on Amazon.  Rest assured, there’s never been a Nixon-related item like this one before – and it’s one that will provide you and your favorite “Nixon nut” with many engrossing hours of education and entertainment.  Indeed, you may find you need two maps – one for your wall, and another for your glove compartment whenever you’re traveling in southern California.

Photo courtesy of Frank Mickadeit: Paul Carter with David and Julie Eisenhower at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in November 2010.