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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

A Reception at The White House

By George J. Measer

After completing a year as president of the New York Press Association, I decided to become active with the National Newspaper Association (NNA) out of Washington, D.C. Joan and I attended many NNA March conventions in D.C., staying at the Hyatt on Capitol Hill, only a few steps from the Capitol.

As the years rolled by, I became more and more involved with this national organization that represented about 5,000 newspapers across America. This included some of the largest newspapers such as The New York Times to some of the smallest newspapers with less than a thousand circulation.

Little did we realize in 1976, the life-fulfilling and exciting experiences we would enjoy when I was elected to the board of directors. This included traveling around our nation to quarterly NNA board meetings as well as the NNA fall convention in a different city each year.

In 1981, I was privileged to be elected president of NNA. This would include not only many one-day trips to NNA’s office in D.C. and to Capitol Hill but also to various state conventions.

During this one-year period, Joan and I flew over 38,000 miles and attended 26 state press association meetings. Of course, we ate many meals of well-done roast beef, over-cooked chicken, string beans and mashed potatoes. I also gave a talk on our profession at each convention and usually presented state awards. Several times we attended three state meetings in a long weekend. After a few states, all hotels, airports and cities looked alike!

Each year the NNA members in attendance at the March meeting were invited to a reception at the White House. When pre-registering for these spring meetings, it was necessary to give your Social Security number for security purposes. Also a picture ID was required.

Cocktails and canapés were served along with music from a Marine band in the White House lobby. We also had the freedom of wandering around the first floor. Later, the president would mingle and address his visitors.

It was a mild, cloudy day in D.C. when we visited the White House in 1974. Suits and dresses were the dress code. After admiring the different historical rooms and the beautiful fresh flowers, the members gathered in the East Room to hear the president. It usually was a short message and then he personally mingled with the White House guests.

As the reception progressed, we looked out the window to see snow starting to fall. The wet flakes stuck to the branches of the pine trees adding to the beauty of the scene. Then it was announced that the president would be leaving for Camp David by helicopter in a few minutes.

Many of us went to the rear windows of the Lincoln Room as the president strolled to the waiting helicopter. The president, smiling, turned and waved goodbye to us standing at these windows. What a thrill it was to be inside the White House waving to President Richard Nixon outside as he boarded his helicopter. Awesome!

In a few minutes, the military service people formed a line and gently walked us to the front door of the White House. Snow was still falling and with no rubbers or boots and no overcoats off we went into the city.

This White House visit was an event, even though we enjoyed many others over the years, one we will never forget. A moment in life that was very special to both Joan and myself.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a thrilling event. You were so fortunate to have that opportunity, even if the President was Nixon.

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