Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ambrose's Nixon: The Education of a Politician 3

A question I had in my latest reading of Stephen Ambrose's Nixon: The Education of a Politician is how Richard Nixon and the lady he would marry, Thelma (Pat) Ryan, fit so many activities into each day.  I think particularly of the time that they were students.  Richard Nixon as a student at Duke Law School studied a lot, worked at the library, engaged in extracurricular activities, did exercises in the afternoon, and the list goes on.  And not only did he survive in an intense and competitive law school, but he graduated with a high class rank.  (I should also mention that he lived in a shack during some of that time in order to save money.)  Pat Ryan went to school, worked at the bank, took care of her father (who had tuberculosis) after her mother died, was involved in dramatics, etc.  How did they do all of these things each day?

I found a passage on pages 95-96 of Ambrose's book to be somber yet profound.  Author Jessamyn West (remember the lady who went to Frank Nixon's Sunday School class) interviewed Pat Nixon in 1970, and Pat said that she (meaning Pat) never got tired.  West reflected: "That statement and Pat Nixon's belief in it probably grew out of her experiences as a girl; began in those days when, motherless, her father ill, she, a student, housekeeper and breadwinner all in one, no doubt told herself, 'You cannot be tired.  You dare not be tired.  Everything depends on you.  You are not tired."

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