Decades before the former US president became known as “Tricky Dicky”, Nixon was the one penning nicknames – sweet ones – to his future bride in gushy love notes that reveal a surprisingly soft and starry-eyed side of the man taken down by the Watergate scandal.
Nixon shared the stage with Patricia Ryan in a community theatre production and six of the dozens of letters they exchanged during their two-year courtship will be unveiled on Friday at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in California as part of an exhibition celebrating the 100th birthday of the woman Nixon playfully called his “Irish gypsy”.
In Nixon’s letters, he recalls their first meeting in flowery prose, daydreams about their future together and waxes poetic about the first time his “dearest heart” agreed to take a drive with him.
“Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you. Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealousy,” he writes in one undated letter. “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.”
Now, 18 years after his death, the correspondence offers a tiny window into a fiercely private side of Nixon that almost no one ever saw and represents a love letter of sorts to fans of the 37th president, who were infuriated when the National Archives took over the museum.
Curator Olivia Anastasiadis said: “These letters are fabulous. It’s a totally different person from the Watergate tapes that people know.”