I was born in a house my father built.  My birth on the night of January 9, 1913, coincided with a record-breaking cold snap in our town of Yorba Linda, California.  Yorba Linda was a farming community of 200 people about thirty miles from Los Angeles, surrounded by avocado and citrus groves and barley, alfalfa, and bean fields.

For a child the setting was idyllic.  In the spirng the air was heavy with the rich scent of orange blossoms.  And there was much to excite a child’s imagination: glimpses of the Pacific Ocean to the west, the San Bernadino Mountains to the north, a “haunted house” in the nearby foothills to be viewed with awe and approached with caution — and a railroad line that ran about a mile from our house.

In the daytime I could see the smoke from the steam engines.  Sometimes at night I was awakened by the whistle of a train, and then I dreamed of the far-off places I wanted to visit someday.  My brothers and I played railroad games, taking the parts of engineers and conductors.  I remember the thrill of talking to Everett Barnum, the Santa Fe Railroad engineer who lived in our town.  All through grade school my ambition was to become a railroad engineer.

—–The opening of RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon (1978).