July 29, 1974 12:00 PM

The helicopter set down on the velvety pitch-and-putt course of Mar-A-Lago, the Palm Beach estate of the late Marjorie Merriweather Post, and out hopped two veteran realtors, President Nixon and his boon companion, Charles (Bebe) Rebozo. For the President it was an inspection trip to what may become the latest, and surely the most luxurious, of his retreats. When she died last September, Post Toasties heiress Marjorie Post left the estate to the federal government as a guest house for visiting dignitaries, including U.S. Presidents.

What Nixon saw in the crescent-shaped, 115-room palace was a way of life that has all but vanished. Even Presidential pomp cannot duplicate the life style of Mrs. Post at Mar-A-Lago. With the help of a staff of 50, she entertained monarchs and statesmen and social lions on a scale that once prompted the late Queen Maud of Norway to exclaim: “Why, you live just like a queen!”

Even Mrs. Post’s gestures were regal. She once brought in Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey Circus to perform—one day for her guests, the next day for charity. She was also foresighted enough to permanently endow the upkeep of Mar-A-Lago for posterity. Amid rumors that Nixon plans to sell his Key Biscayne property, actress Dina Merrill, Mrs. Post’s daughter, commented: “That’s what he’ll do, to pay off his taxes. Then he’ll move into Mother’s house.”

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