I wasn't thinking about it at the end of a long, satisfying day at the Richard Nixon Library and Museum. All I wanted were bookmarks and whatever else I could find in the souvenir store. In fact, the only reasons I had wanted to go, besides the major one of wanting to visit every single presidential library in my lifetime, was to see all the exhibits and to get bookmarks.
I found the bookmarks. I found the blue leather ones with Nixon on it and a quote from him, and another with a panoramic photo of the entrance to the library. I bought two of each.
Now it's weeks since I went there, and enough time has passed, but reflection only came this morning when I finished reading "Apple Pie: An American Story" by John T. Edge, and decided to start reading "Here We Go Again: My Life in Television" by Betty White.
For the books by John T. Edge (I started with "Fried Chicken", and there's still the books to read on hamburgers and fries, and donuts), I decided to go with a metal bookmark I bought at Barnes & Noble in Burbank, listing "50 books to read before you die." I bought it not because it was another list and I like lists of all kinds, especially with books in them, but because I just liked having all those titles there. If I get to those books, then fine, but if not, well, it makes a great bookmark.
In my room, on my nightstand, I have a coffee mug from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (back when I was thinking of taking classes online there, back when I thought I might go into a career at an airport, especially McCarran International in Las Vegas) that's filled with bookmarks. I have bookmarks from my local library, many favorites, including animals such as moose reading. Also in that coffee mug are the bookmarks from the Nixon Library. I haven't used the blue leather ones that much lately, but for the Betty White book, I decided to go with the one with that photo of the entrance.
I started reading "Here We Go Again", and I stopped after three pages to look at the bookmark. I wish I knew who took that photograph. I may e-mail the Library and ask. They should know, because there's no name credited on the bookmark. I would like to know what the photographer was thinking, when he or she thought would be the perfect moment to take it, what the intent was, what the higher-ups may have told the photographer what they expected from the photo to grace this bookmark. It fits so well. It captures exactly what I felt in entering this library.
It looks like a mid-afternoon shot. 3 p.m. or so, just about that time when the sun decides that it's probably time to go soon, so it begins to do less in preparation for going home. It's of the main building, which contains a vast tile floor, the entrance to the museum and to the East Room replica, and the souvenir store. You buy your tickets at a register at the souvenir store. Also in the photo on this bookmark is part of the fountain in the parking lot. That's about all that needs to be seen of it. It distinguishes the library somewhat, but it's not as notable as the one at the Reagan Library, and that's as it should be. It shows that the really notable stuff is inside.
On the back of the bookmark are photos of Nixon's birthplace, which is on the property, and of Nixon's Marine One, just a photo of it taking off from the White House (probably not on that historical day, since the grounds below don't look that crowded). The photo of the birthplace captures the feeling of it, too, history sitting right there, carefully maintained so that all that come to see it can know it authentically.
When I was at the souvenir store at the Library, I asked the guy at the register why the bookmarks were not listed on the website (I had bought bookmarks from the LBJ and Clinton libraries, first to fulfill my love of bookmarks, and as a kind of anticipation for the future). He told me that he had not taken photos of them yet so they could be listed on the website. I looked just now and they're still not on the website. Admittedly, there are parts of the Nixon Library that aren't well-managed, but they do what they can with what they have, and that's good enough for me. But I do want to buy at least two more bookmarks to keep being reminded of the time I spent at the Library, the fascination I felt that confirms the nut I am for presidential history, the book that's to come from all of this, and maybe more than one book.
If you've been in a place you've loved, why not gather together everything that could remind you of that pleasant time? That's how I do it.