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A scandal’s footprints blur

June 7, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A quarter century after the Watergate break-in, it’s still possible to trace the ill-measured steps of that notorious June night.

The scandal’s namesake edifice remains _ the plain 11-story Watergate Office Building, flanked by apartment, store, hotel and office buildings with their distinctively toothy concrete balconies.

Across the street, guests still stay in the Howard Johnson hotel room, No. 723, where the burglars’ accomplice kept watch from the balcony.

But time and interior remodeling are slowly blurring details of that night, like silt washing into the crevices of antiquity.

Urenco Inc., a British-based uranium enrichment marketing firm, occupies the part of the former Democratic National Committee’s sixth-floor offices where the burglars broke in.

``We don’t make anything out of it,″ said Maurice Lenders, the president. The occasional tourist drops in.

The cubicle where police nabbed the burglars is long gone. A few of the cops visited five years ago and vouched for the spot now taken by a pale blue couch and chairs as the one where they got their men.

The makers of ``Forrest Gump″ filmed there for a scene where Gump meets President Nixon.

Not much has been done over the years to make a fuss or a buck over the Watergate’s link to the downfall of a president.

The office building at 2600 Virginia Ave. in northwest Washington is home to several diplomatic missions, and they are not keen on tourists roaming and snapping pictures. A plaque noting the building’s infamy was stolen long ago.

Sales of Watergate brand vodka and scotch pick up on the scandal’s anniversaries at Watergate Liquors.

At the Howard Johnson Premier Hotel, Room 723 was designated the Watergate Room with a plaque last year and decorated with a few framed newspapers clippings.

Now the hotel is working with Political Americana, sellers of political memorabilia, to stock the room with Watergate mementos and make it look as it did in 1972. Mugs and T-shirts are coming to the hotel store.

An open house is planned for June 17, the 25th anniversary of the break-in.

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