Cal. Litig. 2022, VOLUME 35, ISSUE 2


Written by Dan Lawton*

In March 1973, at age 11, I got hit by a car while crossing Chapman Avenue in Fullerton. I was on my Schwinn bike. My dad and brothers were waiting for me on the other side of the street. We were on our way to Carl’s Jr. for lunch. I was in the crosswalk, but I didn’t look both ways, and I never knew what hit me. I wound up at St. Jude Hospital for six weeks in traction, then the treatment for a boy with a broken femur, tibia, and fibula. After that I went home in a body cast that went from chest to toes. My parents rented a hospital bed and installed it on their screened-in back porch. There I spent the next six weeks on my back. Today someone in my condition would be up and around and in a walking cast, but back then that was what they did to you. Family and friends expressed sympathy at my predicament. I didn’t consider it to be that bad. Not having to go to school or do chores, and being waited on hand and foot by my mom, seemed too good to be true. My parents had a small black-and-white TV with a pair of rabbit ears. They set it on a table at the foot of the bed. I was in heaven.

The start of my six weeks encased in plaster coincided with the opening of the hearings of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities in Washington, D.C. The three national TV networks offered gavel-to-gavel coverage of the proceedings every day.

Ours was a Nixon household. My dad had grown up poor in Bellflower and put himself through college. Richard Nixon had grown up in Yorba Linda and Whittier, attended Fullerton High School, and, for a time, practiced law out of a small office nearby. My dad admired Nixon as a lot of other Americans did, as a self-made man who had succeeded with no money of his own and zero advantages going in, the antithesis of the rich and powerful Kennedys. As a kid whose knowledge of American law and politics was next to nil, I had no reason to question my father’s esteem for the 37th president of the United States. Confined to bed and free of any responsibilities, with my brothers at school most of the day, I focused on the little black-and-white TV down at the foot of the bed.

Join CLA to access this page

Join Now

Forgot Password

Enter the email associated with you account. You will then receive a link in your inbox to reset your password.

Personal Information

Select Section(s)

CLA Membership is $99 and includes one section. Additional sections are $99 each.