Apropos Ms Sykes, a reminder of what once went on:
Absolutely determined that a good time would be had by all, and equally determined to bring down the house, Richard Nixon appeared as the final act. The curtain pulled back to reveal the president and Vice President Spiro Agnew seated at two modest black pianos (Dwight Chapin at the White House had requested grand pianos or at least baby grands but the Statler Hilton could only manage uprights). This was the first time a chief executive had appeared on the Gridiron stage, and Nixon opened by asking: "What about this 'southern strategy' we hear so often?" "Yes suh, Mr. President," Agnew replied, "Ah agree with you completely on yoah southern strategy." The dialect, as Wilkins observed, got the biggest boffo.
After more banter with the "darky" Agnew, Nixon opened the piano duet with Franklin Roosevelt's favorite song ("Home on the Range"), then Harry Truman's ("Missouri Waltz"), then Lyndon Johnson's ("The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You"). Agnew, drowned him out a few bars into each with a manic Dixie on his piano, and the Gridiron crew got louder and louder. "The crowd ate" it up," Wilkins observed. "They roared."
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