This Day in History

It is interesting when you realize that a certain date is the same as some important historical or personal date. A lot of people think back on what they were doing on the day JFK was shot, or similar. Wedding anniversaries are good for that, but birthdays seem to merge into the ancient past for me.The eighth day of August is a day that works to remember the past for me. On 8/8/74, I was a 22 year old who had recently come home from the Army with my BA degree in hand and I had accepted admission in the University of Tulsa law school and was planning on moving to that unknown (to me) city to go become a lawyer.

Then, in the mail that day I got a letter from University of Denver, giving me a late admission chance to go to law school in my hometown, if I could confirm my intent to do so immediately. I quickly decided to surrender the $400 tuition deposit I had made to Tulsa and go to D.U. I was working that summer as driver and advanceman for Gary Hart’s US Senate campaign in Colorado. I drove downtown Denver to let the campaign manager know that I would not be available to drive Gary for the final push to the primary election in early September, since D.U. law started in mid-August. When I told the campaign manager, Hal Haddon, the news, he said, “I’m glad Gary and Dick’s letters helped get you in.”

It seems Gary Hart and gubernatorial candidate Dick Lamm, both of who I had driven around together that summer, had sent letters of reference as attorneys, adjunct professors and possible Senator and Governor, to D.U. Law school admissions office. I had not been network-savvy enough to ask for that assist, but Gary had been, after I told him I was thinking of going to Oklahoma for law school. Gary Hart had gone to undergraduate school at a private religious college in Oklahoma and he spoke strongly against the experience.

Anyway, on 8/8/74, I found out where I would become a lawyer and the part our future Colorado Governor and US Senator had played in that milestone. Then, as I turned to leave Hal’s office, we heard a cheer go up from the group of college age campaign workers stuffing envelopes with campaign brochures in the back room. They were watching TV as they worked and they had just seen the flash announcement that President Nixon was resigning. Quite an event for a bunch of Democrats working on an upstart political campaign to unseat Peter Dominick, the incumbent Senator who was a close Nixon ally. Our campaign’s main election poster was not our candidate’s picture, but a photo of Nixon and Dominick together in an arms high victory salute. It worked in those days of Watergate, especially for Gary, who had cut his political teeth as McGovern’s campaign manager against Nixon (see below).

So, after the jubilation in the campaign office settled down I went down to the D.U. Admissions office and gave them my acceptance and started to look for a cheap apartment in Denver’s Capital Hill area, near the law school. Thus, when I hear that today is the anniversary of the day Nixon announced his resignation from the presidency I have a flood of nostalgic memories of that day that changed my life, and the whole nation’s.

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