A Surprise at Nixon Library: A Wine Glass Display

NixonBirthplaceTo honor my future father-in-law, as well as a cousin on my mother’s side — both of whom served in the Vietnam War — my future wife, her daughter and I wanted to do something on Memorial Day besides firing up the barbecue.

So we decided to attend a wreath ceremony at the Richard Nixon Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California. The master of ceremonies said he believed it was the best attended Memorial Day event in the museum’s history.

There were brief remarks by local politicians and decorated military personnel, and wonderful patriotic music performed by a Marine Corps marching band. Afterward, attendees could walk through Nixon’s birthplace (shown here), pose for a picture aboard the Marine 1 helicopter, and visit the museum’s exhibits.

It would take hours to tour the facility properly, and because of the big crowd, we vowed to return on another day. But before we left, a small display case caught my eye — first, because it featured a picture not of Nixon, but rather of John F. Kennedy, and second, because it included wine glasses.

I had skipped most of the displays dealing with the opening of relations with China and the details of Watergate, but I couldn’t skip this one.

Under Kennedy’s name, the placard read:

“In 1961, Mrs. Kennedy ordered new glassware from Morgantown Glass Guild in West Virginia. She ended the tradition of ordering engraved stemware. The simple design of the glassware allows it to be used for formal or informal settings. On display is a set that consists of two wine glasses; tulip champagne glass; water goblet, and a fingerbowl.”

No details were offered regarding why Mrs. Kennedy had decided not to order engraved stemware. Thus, the display had both informed and perplexed me. I had to learn more about the tradition of engraved stemware at the White House.

I’ll let you know what I found out in tomorrow’s blog.

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