Richard Nixon proposed to his wife, Pat, on their first date, and then obsessively pursued her for two years until she said yes. To spend time with her in the interim, Nixon even drove Pat on dates with other men.
After graduating from Duke, Nixon initially hoped to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He received no response to his letter of application and learned years later that he had been hired, but his appointment had been canceled at the last minute due to budget cuts. Instead, he returned to California and was admitted to the bar in 1937.
He began practicing with the law firm Wingert and Bewley in Whittier, working on commercial litigation for local petroleum companies and other corporate matters, as well as on wills. In later years, Nixon proudly stated that he was the only modern president to have previously worked as a practicing attorney. Nixon was reluctant to work on divorce cases, disliking frank sexual talk from women. In 1938, he opened up his own branch of Wingert and Bewley in La Habra, California, and became a full partner in the firm the following year.
In January 1938, Nixon was cast in the Whittier Community Players production of The Dark Tower. There he played opposite a high school teacher named Thelma “Pat” Ryan. Nixon described it in his memoirs as “a case of love at first sight”—for Nixon only, as Pat Ryan turned him down several times before agreeing to date him. Once they began their courtship, Ryan was reluctant to marry Nixon; they dated for two years before she assented to his proposal. They wed at a small ceremony on June 21, 1940. After a honeymoon in Mexico, the Nixons began their married life in Whittier. They had two children, Tricia (born 1946) and Julie (born 1948).