11:39am

Mon March 12, 2012
The Two-Way

Before He Became 'Tricky Dick,' Richard Nixon Wrote Love Letters

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 11:45 am

We're all familiar with the gruff Richard Nixon of the Watergate tapes. But the presidential library of the 37th president of the United States has an exhibit that shows a different side of him — the softer, gushy side of him that emerged as he was courting Pat Ryan, the woman who would become his wife.

Coming from the man who was forced to resign the presidency in disgrace, the prose comes off especially flowery. In some cases he uses the words "thee," which the AP explains comes from a Quaker tradition. At other times, Nixon refers to himself in the third person.

From the AP, here are two short excerpts of the letters:

"Somehow on Tuesday there was something electric in the usually almost stifling air in Whittier. And now I know. An Irish gypsy who radiates all that is happy and beautiful was there. She left behind her a note addressed to a struggling barrister who looks from a window and dreams. And in that note he found sunshine and flowers, and a great spirit which only great ladies can inspire. Someday let me see you again? In September? Maybe?"

And:

"Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you. Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealousy. Let's go for a long ride Sunday; let's go to the mountains weekends; let's read books in front of fires; most of all, let's really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours."

The letters will be on exhibit at the Yorba Linda, Calif., library as part of its exploration of Pat Nixon. The AP reports this is a softer exhibit that should make Nixon fans happy, considering their fury when library was taken over by the National Archives in 2007 in part to include exhaustive material on the Watergate scandal.

Vanity Fair, by the way, has a fun feature on its website. They ask if you can discern Nixon's prose "from that of America's other starry-eyed bard, Nicholas Sparks?"

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.