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Editor’s NotebookEditor's Notebook: In 1972, local high-schoolers were ga-ga for Dick

Editor’s Notebook: In 1972, local high-schoolers were ga-ga for Dick

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One of my favorite local-history items has rolled around once again for this week’s papers, taking us back to the Oct. 28, 1972, edition of the Northern Virginia Sun.

(A nifty 50 years ago? Time flies ….)

The Sun was of course all over the upcoming election, and that edition reported on a new survey of Arlington high-school students.

More than 60 percent of them who offered an opinion, the study revealed, were backing Richard Nixon for president, even if some of the respondents weren’t actually old enough to vote for him. (Or old enough to shave, in some cases.)


The only students who were backing the candidacy of Democrat George McGovern in large numbers came from (be prepared not to be shocked) the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, which didn’t get its nickname “hippie high” for nothing. (And “high” no doubt some of them were 🙂 )

At Arlington’s other high schools — Wakefield, Yorktown, Washington-[Redacted] — the masses in classes loved Dick. (Not sure if O’Connell was included, but one guesses they probably were all in favor of Dick, too.)

And Nixon did indeed win in a romp — in Arlington, in Virginia, across the nation. Alas, things turned out somewhat unfortunately for him during his truncated second term.

SPEAKING OF DICK: It will cause some pearl-clutching among modern-day inhabitants, but Richard Nixon not only won the Fairfax County vote all three times he was on the ballot for president (1960, 1968, 1972), but he won the Arlington vote all three times, too.

AND SPEAKING OF ELECTIONS: Our newspaper motto could well be “backing political losers since 1935,” as the editorial page’s endorsements have indeed supported some candidates who, no matter their merits, went down to ignominious defeat.

Consider the Oct. 27, 1980, edition of the paper, which came out in support of incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Fisher (D-10th) for re-election.

Alas for Fisher and the Democrats, that was the year Ronald Reagan won the presidency in a big way. Fisher was among the collateral damage, as he was defeated by Republican Frank Wolf in a rematch of their 1978 race.

TIME SURE FLIES: The Oct. 28, 1972, edition of the Sun, referenced up above, also noted that the paper had moved its offices to North Ivy Street in the Clarendon section of Arlington, where it also installed a modern-day offset press.

My guess is that that was the same press that was in operation, having been moved to Dunn Loring, when I joined the paper almost a quarter-century later. If memory serves, we had two presses then, and when we were absorbed by the Journal Newspapers chain (RIP), they I think took one for themselves and sold the other one off.

But the memory could be faulty — a lot of chemicals in those pressrooms, enough to give me a woozy contact high that lingers to this day.

  • Scott McCaffrey

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