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USC honors Mrs. Nixon

May 19, 2007 |  6:14 am



May 19, 1957
Los Angeles

In only the second time such honor was bestowed upon a woman since it was established in 1932, the Asa V. Call Award was presented to Mrs. Richard M. Nixon for bringing the greatest honor to USC.

Not that the busy wife of the vice president could attend the ceremony. The 1937 alumna was occupied with official duties, so the award, named for the former USC trustee, attorney (Class of 1914) and president of Pacific Mutual Life Insurance was presented to Mrs. Mildred Younger, one of Mrs. Nixon's friends.

And what are Pat Nixon's duties? According to The Times, even though she's married to the vice president, she answers the doorbell of their modest, unpretentious home herself. In fact, she not only answered the door when the wives of some new congressmen came to visit, she was wearing an apron and carrying a broom since they caught her in the middle of house cleaning.

She's also a full-time housewife and mother, The Times says, although she gets babysitting help from Mrs. Clifford Moore (again, recall that this is the era when married women didn't have first names).

Other indignities mentioned in The Times? Protocol prohibits her from selecting the color of her inaugural gown until First Lady Mamie Eisenhower decides on the proper hue. Life is full of challenges for the "perfect size 10" Mrs. Richard M. Nixon, The Times says.

The good news is that she gathered with some fellow (and they were all fellows) USC alums in Washington: Rep. James B. Utt of Santa Ana; Roger E. Johnson of USC's Washington alumni association; Sen. Thomas H. Kuchel; and Francis D. Tappaan, former football star and Kuchel aide.

Bonus fact: In 1952, opera singer Nadine Conner became the first woman to receive the Call award.
Here's the link to the Texas First Ladies Historic Costume Collection, where one of Mamie Eisenhower's dresses is on display.

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