President Nixon’s Poetic Love Letters to Wife, Pat, Go on Display

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Some particularly sentimental and romantic love letters the former President sent to his beloved future wife have painted a very different portrait of Richard Nixon.

Dozens of love notes were exchanged between Nixon and Patricia Ryan, dating from 1938 to June 1940, right before the two wed. Six of the letters will be on display at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum starting Friday, as part of an exhibit celebrating Pat’s 100th birthday.

Apparently Nixon was quite the poet, using “thee” instead of “you” in a few of his letters. ABC News notes this is a nod to his Quaker upbringing, as the pronoun “thee” is a sign of special closeness in Quaker tradition. He also refers to Ryan as his “dearest heart.”

(LIST: Top 10 Famous Love Letters)

In one letter, he wrote: “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.”

Since much of the public’s memory of Nixon is entwined with scandal, this particular discovery serves as a reminder that the troubled president had a softer side—one that was deeply devoted to and enamored with his wife.

“These letters are fabulous. It’s a totally different person from the Watergate tapes that people know,” Olivia Anastasiadis, supervisory museum curator, told ABC. “He loved her, he was absolutely enthralled by her and that’s all he thought about.”

The two met at an audition for a community theater production in Southern California, and Nixon proposed two years later, delivering her engagement ring in a basket filled with mayflowers. They were married for 53 years, Pat passing away one day after their anniversary in 1993.

Pat wasn’t as flowery with her sentiments in letters to him, but spunky instead: “In case I don’t see you before why don’t you come early Wednesday (6)—and I’ll see if I can burn a hamburger for you.” Grilling up some burgers is its own kind of poetry, though.

MORE: TIME cover: Pat Nixon, Feb. 29, 1960