WHITTIER - Edward "Ed" Nixon, the lone surviving brother of President Richard Nixon, joked recently that his signature wasn't as legible as it once was because of the 1968 presidential campaign.

As mail operations manager, he and 75 volunteers read and responded to all of the campaign's correspondence.

"My signature was at the bottom of about 150,000 pieces of communication," he said during a phone interview from his Washington state home. "My signature has never been the same."

Nixon, 83, was unable to attend the library's celebration over the weekend, but plans on attending tonight's gala in Washington, D.C.

He doesn't get back to Whittier as much as he would like, he said, but he has fond memories of growing up in this city.

"In those days, we were surrounded by orange groves, strawberry patches and avocado trees," said Nixon, who was the youngest of Frank and Hannah Nixon's five sons.

He recalled the family's home on Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Whittier Boulevard, although many of the places he remembers are no longer in existence.

Nixon, president of Nixon World Enterprises Inc., a service company based in Washington state, attended Lowell Joint Elementary School, and the first three years of his high school career were at Whittier High School, just like his older brothers.

But the family moved to Pennsylvania before his senior year.

"I considered going to Whittier College, but Dick, who was in Congress at the time, suggested I consider other schools."

Curious advice since Richard Nixon, who died in April 1994, completed his undergraduate work at Whittier College, before graduating from North Carolina's Duke University School of Law in 1937.

"With such an age difference, and Dick being the oldest, he became my mentor," Ed Nixon said.

Ed Nixon, who never had any political ambitions, said his brother encouraged him to leave California to attend college.

"I wanted to go to Cal Tech or Stanford because I was a Californian," Ed Nixon explained. "But Dick said, `You're an American; take a look at what's outside of California."'

His brother wanted Ed Nixon to see what the South was going through, the segregation that was occurring in 1948.

"It was one thing to hear about the racism, where people had to use different restrooms, drinking fountains, just because of the color of their skin, but to live in that environment - it was a wake-up call," Ed Nixon said.

He graduated from Duke University with a bachelor's in geology and later earned a master's in geology engineering from North Carolina State University.

A favorite memory of time spent with his older brother was a car trip.

Richard Nixon asked his brother, who was 17 years his junior, to join him to pick up a car that he had bought straight off the assembly line in Michigan.

"We went by train the one way, and then took Route 66, from Chicago, back home," Ed Nixon recalled. "It was wonderful spending that time with him."

As the brother of the only U.S. president to resign from office, Ed Nixon rarely talks about the Watergate scandal.

"I lived through Watergate," he said. "I was on the campaign trail and was aware something was going on, but it wasn't until after the election that I knew what happened."

In June 1972, five men connected to the committee to re-elect President Nixon broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex.

President Richard Nixon is shown after he addressed the nation on TV regarding a cease-fire in Indochina, October 8, 1970.  (AP Photo)
President Richard Nixon is shown after he addressed the nation on TV regarding a cease-fire in Indochina, October 8, 1970. (AP Photo)

Ultimately, Ed Nixon said, President Nixon's legacy will be left to historians to dissect.

"Dick led the way on a lot of areas, such as the environment and health care," he said.

And what would his brother think of what's happening in the world today?

"There are so many huge problems, I don't know what he'd say."

But after a beat, Ed Nixon said with a laugh, "Maybe learn Mandarin."