Super-70s Nixon Bowls to the Partridge Family on Super-8!

President Nixon bowling in the lanes at the Old Executive Office Building.

President Nixon bowling in the lanes at the Old Executive Office Building.

One need not have lived the Seventies to love them. It was a hideous period but it had a certain dash.

Lawrence Welk goes madly mod as a hip hippie. (

Lawrence Welk goes madly mod as a hip hippie. (

Contrary to popular misconception, the tension which rippled American society and helped define the vibe of the 1970s did not stem from continuing conflict over the Vietnam War.  The US had ended it military presence there early in the decade, the withdrawal of troops announced just days into the new year of 1973.

It was, however, that modification of mod, that finding a common ground in the mainstream culture to “get with it” and blend in the radical look of hippy trippy patterns, older men in long dark hair and younger women in short hot pants which seemed to exemplify the dichotomy.

The result was what might be called “Welkian,” a shocking disconnect between the way people clung to the thinking of the fading era while appearing to be thoroughly modern.

Nixon pauses before rolling the ball.

Nixon pauses before rolling the ball.

That disconnect was more dramatically demonstrated in the demise of one type of national popular music. The Seventies was a time of acid rock and disco, a split in what had once been “the songs everyone’s singing,” as radio stations once put it.

The Conservative Pyschedelic Wallpaper.

The Conservative Psychedelic Wallpaper.

It was also seen in the photographs taken of the White House bowling alleys (actually the two-laner located in the Old Executive Office Building) where President Richard Nixon came downstairs to meet with winners of the International World Bowling League Tournament and their excitable parents on September 17, 1971.

After watching the young man and woman winners roll their balls down the lane, the President couldn’t help himself. He discarded his jacket and then gave the old ball a spin of his own, to everyone’s amazed delight.

The Choo-Choo Cherry Mod Chairs.

A Choo-Choo Cherry Pod Chair.

The Super-8 footage of the event, captured by a White House aide on his movie camera, also showed off the recently refurbished bowling alley. From blank white plaster walls it was adorned in a style which captured the dichotomy of those changing times. On the wall was a “Conservative Psychedelic” patterned paper. There were comfortable Choo-Choo Cherry Pod Chairs put in place for cool comfort. The automatic ball retriever was repainted in “Groovy Rust” color.

The ball retriever repainted in "rust."

The ball retriever repainted in “rust.”

The footage from the Nixon Library of the President’s visit to the bowling alley used below is set to music that the kids would be hearing that very night. That is – if they were tuned to ABC-TV and watching the pop hit sensation, The Partridge Family.

The-Partridge Family.

The-Partridge Family.

The same day that Nixon bowled marked the show’s 1971 season premier episode, Dora, Dora, Dora (in which manager Reuben books a pretty teen vocalist to accompany the Partridges – but she can’t sing worth a damn).

It also offered the first television performance of their song “I Woke Up In Love This Morning” (written by L. Russell Brown and Irwin Levine) from their album Sound Magazine which came out that year. “I Woke Up to Love This Morning” hit the 1971 Billboard Hot 100 chart, ranking in at number thirteen.

Alas, all the Super-70s touches of the Nixon era bowling alley are now long-gone, the period shamed by the likes of Empire in the Red Room and Victorian in the Lincoln Bedroom. The chagrin of the White House Curator in the year 2071, however, might be slightly assuaged by the bright beauty still available of a very different, yet no less stylish type of “Nixon Bowl.”

jonathan adler's peruvian lamb wool rug design of Pat Nixon Turquoise.

Jonathan Adler’s Peruvian lamb wool rug design of Pat Nixon Turquoise.

In fact, you can get the 70ish pattern not just for a bowl – but a plate and a cup as well.

Among his line of appealing and reasonably-priced original designs, home furnishings designer Jonathan Adler has not only created an item which honors the president’s wife which evokes that Seventies Vibe but he’s christened it the Pat Nixon Turquoise Rug. It seems to reference the cool, blue Pacific Ocean which Mrs. Nixon enjoyed as a young woman growing up in southern California and loved returning to stroll along as First Lady.

Furthermore, its made of Peruvian wool, perhaps a nod to that nation where she became revered for leading a massive relief effort following Peru’s devastating 1971 earthquake.

And a good match for it is the Nixon Bowl (or plate, or mug), in a crisp California green and i a pattern a bit easier to sup from than perhaps “Conservative Psychedelic.”

You can get both items and many more at the designer’s website, Jonathan Adler. (And for those in Los Angeles, you can visit his store, right down Melrose Avenue).

Another notion of the Nixon Bowl - part of an original contemporary china pattern by designer Jonathan Adler.

Another notion of the Nixon Bowl – part of an original contemporary china pattern by designer Jonathan Adler.


Categories: History, Music, The Nixons

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