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Richard Nixon and the summer of '74 

Phyllis Weinberger with her dad, Fred Lefkof, in

Phyllis Weinberger with her dad, Fred Lefkof, in the 1970s. Credit: Phyllis Weinberger

The summer of 1974 was particularly brutal for me. Nine months pregnant, I was told not to do too much or go too far, or I would deliver early.

Confined to my apartment since the fifth month, I was so close to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn that my desire overwhelmed my common sense. My wonderful father, Fred, who was then retired, would visit virtually every day. Alternate side of the street parking allowed him to park at 11 a.m. and leave at 4 p.m. Those five hours were his time with me. I loved every moment with him. He made it his mission to make me happy. He would pick me up, help me into his red Pontiac Le Mans and drive to the beach.

Finding parking, he would light up a Newport, take out two lounge chairs and a portable radio, and carry it all down the sand to the water’s edge. There he placed me by the cool breeze of the ocean where we would talk and enjoy each other’s company. He did this almost every day that weather permitted.

On one special afternoon, as soon as we were set up in the sand, the radio came on and we listened to the news. AM radio in those days ... 1010 WINS.

My dad was a sergeant in the Army during World War II. He hated war, especially the unjust war in Vietnam. And my dad had figured out that President Richard Nixon was prolonging the cruelty of the draft and the deaths it was causing, and spoke strongly against it wherever he went. It got to the point where it consumed him. We knew young men who were sent and never returned. My father was convinced there was no reason for the war other than politics, and would not rest until Nixon was out of office.

My beach chair laid at the water’s edge, half-wet from the ocean. The cool breeze made me forget how uncomfortable a pregnant gal can be in the ninth month. My due date was just weeks away. The radio was blaring about Nixon’s resignation on Aug. 9. Yes!

My dad flew into the ocean with his fist raised, jumping around in the water with pure delight. I never saw him so excited. Yes, the horror of Vietnam would end and someone was going to pay the price of lying. How many of our men had to fight and die for no good reason?

My dad’s politics didn’t end with him. He lives in me. Now 46 years later, I am as angry as he was and even more so. During the pandemic, I walk down to Long Beach, stare at the ocean’s waves and await the day when I can jump up and scream with delight that 45 has resigned ... effective immediately.

I want to feel what my dad felt that one special moment way back in 1974.

Reader Phyllis Weinberger lives in Valley Stream.

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