The Pardon Tour

Sunnylands was an incinerator on September 8, 1974. The Pardon Tour walks you through the meltdown.

Sept 8, 1974 – Washington D.C.

Shortly after 11 a.m. E.S.T., the 38th President of the United States pardons the 37th President.

Sept 8, 1974 – Rancho Mirage CA

Shortly after 8 a.m. P.S.T., the 37th President, convalescing indoors at the estate of friend (and billionaire) Walter Annenberg, tries unsuccessfully to remain calm. Intense desert temps and acute phlebitis confine him to the Mid-Century Modern residence (A. Quincy Jones), preventing him from taking out his frustrations on the private golf course, a Dick Wilson design. Standing at attention by his side are his monogrammed golf clubs, his monogrammed golf bag, and his valet Manolo Sanchez.


When you’re down you find out who your real friends are.

The Tour

When regularly scheduled broadcasting resumes, it does not calm beleaguered No. 37.

8:00 a.m. P.S.T.
Ch. 2 Dusty’s Treehouse
Ch. 4 This is the Life
Ch. 5 Rex Humbard
Ch. 6 Around the World
Ch. 8 Lamp Unto My Feet
Ch. 9 Johnny Barton Show
Ch. 10/26 Old Time Gospel Hour
Ch. 13 Wanderlust

Although air conditioning separates him from heat prostration or even death, it too does not improve 37’s frame of mind. Only the thought of the magnolia tree on the seventh hole comforts him. It was his gift to the Annenbergs in 1972, cut from a magnolia tree planted on the White House grounds nearly 200 years ago by President Andrew Jackson. He rises, of a mind to rest there, perhaps forever. His walk toward it descends to a crawl as the real and imaginary crowd his field of vision:

Lava-stone walls
Egg-crate coffered ceiling
Patinated-bronze Eve (Rodin)
Sunflower-print fabric
Tortoise-patterned leather
Celadon-on-celadon trapunto quilting
Pyramidal roof
Rose marble
Sancai-glaze funerary figures (Tang Dynasty)
Beaucarnea tree
Birds of Welcome (Art Price)
Ch’ien Lung parrots and Coisonné cranes (Qing Dynasty)
Palm trees (Dwight D. Eisenhower)
Entangled Simplicity (Jean Arp)
U.S. G.I.s
Bronze fountain (Morado Bros.)
Peacock (Harry Bertoia)
Swimming pools (in- and outdoor)
Tarantula hawk wasps
Vermillion flycatchers
N.V.A./V.C. forces
Marine One (Sikorsky)

Fortuitously, the Mayan god of the Sunnylands logo smiles on 37: The golf course sprinklers, which had sounded like helicopters, are turned off. But the Sikorsky in his persecuted mind continues to rotate. He tears up a scorecard and flings the scraps toward the par-4 18th hole called Journey’s End, which concludes the Tour.

Après Tour
Take in the Home Movie Series at the Sunnylands Center & Gardens. See the Annenbergs and their guests in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Bacon, Francis, Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent (1953)