Monday, December 14, 2009

The Willard Hotel, Frito's, Nixon's Inauguration, Lobbyists and more...

Two close blocks from The White House is the Willard InterContinental Hotel, and a grand hotel it is! Some Suites go for $3,000 per night! Some say the word lobbyists came from the Willard Hotel and the days of hard-drinking President Gen. Ulysses S. Grant nightly wandering over to the Willard bar for a whiskey. There were gladhanding throngs lurking in the lobby only too happy to buy the President a whiskey and succor federal favor.  Martin Luther King wrote his "I Have A Dream" speech he delivered on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 there.

Some of my own personal history include my mother's habit of taking her sons to lunch around Christmas-time and eating surf and turf at the Occidental Restaurant inside the Willard.  But my favorite story comes from a cold January 20, 1968 when Richard Milhous Nixon was to be inaugurated President. I was an 11 year old new Boy Scout, and our Troop 881, was to a be a back up Honor Guard. That meant we froze in our little uniforms and were allowed to warm ourselves and wait interminably inside the now dilapitaded run down Willard Hotel, paint peeling and graffiti abounding.

Marriott had given up one box lunch each, Pepsi all the Pepsi we could drink and Frito's all the Frito's we nervous, cold Boy Scouts could shovel into our fat faces.  It was only a few years ago that the smell of Frito's didn't bring on a nausea.

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