Long Island's Hidden Past: Checkers the Dog
Some of our local history, and even our nation's history, can be found buried in Long Island's graveyards. And in this instance, a park in Wantagh is no exception.
Bideawee Pet Memorial Park has thousands of plots for the thousands of pets buried there. But probably the most famous pet is Richard Nixon's cocker spaniel named Checkers. Some say Checkers actually saved Nixon's political career.
According to Ray Cushmore, of the park, in 1952, shortly after Nixon was nominated for vice president under Dwight Eisenhower, there was a controversy about a gift that was given to him by a supporter -- Checkers. Historians say Nixon booked a spot on NBC to speak directly to the people of the United States and appeal to the masses.
"And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we're gonna keep it," said Nixon, during his speech.
"And as a result of [the] speech, it endeared him to a lot of people, and he stayed on the ticket," says Cushmore.
In 1964, Checkers died and was buried at Bideawee. Park officials say at least once a month, someone comes to visit the grave site of Checkers.