WASHINGTON -- President Nixon and top White House officials spent much time dealing with developments in the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal and the Middle East, but documents made public Monday show they also spent some time on more mundane matters.
A few examples follow:
-On Nov. 15, 1971, while Nixon was considering who to appoint to a vacancy on the Supreme Court, he got a suggestion from Whit Waldo III, 13, of Miami, and his four brothers and sisters. Nixon replied, 'It was good to receive your letter suggesting your mother as a possible appointee for justice of the Supreme Court. Whatever other qualifications your mother may have, I can see that she must be well qualified for her role as a mother. You are right to be proud of her and I hope that you and your bothers and sisters will always strive to be the kind of citizens your parents hope you will be.'
The letter from Whit and his siblings said their mother, Myrtice Rhodes Waldo, 'is capable, well educated and very good at making decisions. She loves our country. ... She has a lot of vigor and energy. She likes hard work and is a good organizer. She and our dad have worked for the Republican Party for many years. (By the way, her age is 46 and we think she is very pretty.)'
-On July 20, 1970, while the Vietnam War was still raging, Nixon wrote the following letter to 13-year-old Neil Edward Clymer of Cleveland. 'Your grandfather recently called my attention to the speech you made on the occasion of your Bar Mitzvah and I can well understand his pride in you and your thoughtful outlook on life.
'It is particularly heartening to find that you, along with many other American teenagers, are seeking for yourself the answers to the problems and the paradoxes we must confront as individuals and as a nation.'
-On Jan. 10, 1972, during campus unrest over the Vietnam War, the president responded to a letter he recieved from Lydia Lloyd, 8, of Oakdale, N.Y. The youngster's letter, written in pencil on lined looseleaf paper, said, 'I hope that you will continue to fight all who oppose law and order so I may walk outside without fear of violence. Very truly yours, Lydia Lloyd ... My age 8 years. P.S. I hope you will help.'
Nixon responded: 'No matter how busy the day is, I always enjoy hearing from young friends. You are certainly not too young to be concerned about the many issues that are our present day problems and I shall ask that you be sent information that will be helpful to you.'
-The president was not the only top White House official busy with everyday American life. In Nov. 17, 1972, Nixon domestic adviser John Ehrlichman, who was to be fired five months later for his role in the growing Watergate scandal, dashed off a letter to Leslie McCartney, the jury commissioner of Orange County, Calif.
'I am returning Mr. Manuel Sanchez's affidavit for jury service. As you may know, Mr. Sanchez is the president's valet. The president has asked that I request of you that Mr. Sanchez be excused from jury duty at this time in order that he can be available to the president in Washington. If there is any problem about granting Mr. Sanchez an excuse, I would appreciate your writing to me directly.'
-Of course, not all White House correspondence was ordinary. Some was mysterious, such as this Sept. 22, 1969, unsigned memo for Ehrlichman. It said: 'At your convenience, have one of your people give me a report on the Teddy K. case. The (Mary) McGrory article was very revealing as far as tactics are concerned. I think anything on the case must now be read in the light of Kennedy's rather desperately jumping on the Vietnam issue at the extreme end. This is a diversionary tactic as I pointed out in another memorandum.'
This is an obvious reference to Sen. Edward Kennedy's accident on the bridge at Chappaquiddick, which took Mary Jo Kopechne's life July 18, 1969.