I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that living in Mexico, I would be out of touch. Years ago, maybe, but thanks to my computer streaming radio (in my case, KRCC, my local PBS station) I’m keeping up. Typically, when I am home, I catch some portion of BBC World Service, and here in Mexico, I do the same.
Monday, March 12, I caught a snippet of a story on BBC World. The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, Californa is about to exhibit six of young Nixon’s love letters to his future wife, Patricia Ryan. What a buzz!
This news staggered my imagination. Richard Nixon? “Tricky Dick,” the man who soiled the American presidency by playing a part in the Watergate scandal… he was a writer of love letters? Wow!
Watergate started with the burglary of the Democratic National Committee office and spread like oil on a hot skillet to included charges of bribery, extortion, phone-tapping, obstruction of justice, and the illegal use of the FBI and the CIA. Watergate became synonymous with the abuse of power. Faced with calls for impeachment, President Nixon resigned (the first president to resign) on August 8, 1974.
The man we love to hate was actually starry-eyed and in love?! Amazing! Surfing the web, I learned that Richard met Pat (please excuse the familiarity – reading Dick’s love letters has brought them closer) on-stage in a community theater production. On-stage! Playing a part in a community theatre production? This story was getting crazier by the moment. The news couldn’t have been any more shocking if I had read that Boris Karloff was about to star in a musical that called for singing and dancing.
I moved on to reading excerpts of the letters themselves: Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you. Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealously. Let’s go on a long ride on 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.
If I were to look in the mirror, I’d see my mouth open and my eyes wide-open in astonishment. Raised as a Quaker, some of the letters use “thee” rather than “you.” A nice touch. I’ve been waiting for someone to address me as “thee.” On occasion, Nixon referred to himself in the third person describing himself as a “prosaic person” whose heart was “filled with that grand poetic music” upon knowing her. Never have I filled a heart with grand poetic music. I’m jealous.
I feel chastened. I rushed to judgement – condemning the man, not his act. As we do, I think. Passing judgement, aye or nay. Never looking beyond the surface. Never wondering about the untold stories lurking under the skin.