Exchange of Letters With Harold K. Bell of the District of Columbia.
It was good to hear from you again after so many years and I am glad to know you have almost completed your college program, and are working here in the District with the Department of Recreation.
Your reflections on our late evening golf at Burning Tree brought back wonderful memories, and I well remember our discussions at the time. Like too many youngsters you had to begin your working career early and were forced to bypass the good times and games that most boys and girls your age were able to enjoy. What makes me very proud of you is that you have returned to the young people whose lives today resemble your own early years, and that you are dedicated to giving them help along the difficult road of life. They sorely need the inspiration and the example that you are able to give them.
It is my prayer as President that the hope for something better will always be with all our boys and girls as it was with you. You may have been suffering, but you were determined not to let it get you down. I am glad you are there to help maintain the spark of hope for these youngsters and I promise you I shall always work to keep that hope alive and to make progress possible for all of our people.
I would enjoy seeing you again and I hope it will not be too long before we have a chance to say hello.
With warm personal regards,
[Mr. Harold K. Bell, 1204-42nd Place NE., Washington, D.C. 20019]
Note: The letter was dated June 25, 1969, and released July 11, 1969. Mr. Bell, accompanied by his wife, visited the President at the White House on the afternoon of July 11, 1969.
Mr. Bell's letter, which was dated May 12, 1969, and released by the White House Press Office along with the President's letter on July 11, 1969, read as follows:
Dear Mr. President:
It has been a little more than ten years ago since we last met and there might be some doubt as to my identity. Mr. President, my name is Harold K. Bell, I was your golf caddy at the Burning Tree Golf Course. I remember staying out of sight from Mr. Elbin until you and Mr. Rogers arrived for one of your late evening rounds of golf. I would then pop up, hoping that Mr. Elbin would call me for the bags and he always did. I think he knew what was going on, but he never said anything.
Things were pretty tough for me then and I don't quite know where I got the strength to keep going, but I am thankful that I did. I think that some of the strength came from our conversations as we rode to catch my bus at Wisconsin and Massachusetts Avenues, NW. I am saying all this because I feel everyone needs to know that there is someone who cares, whether it be the Vice President or the newspaperman on the corner. Mr. President, I was not at all surprised at your recent appearance on Seventh Street. I expected nothing less, because I know that you do care about the welfare of your fellow man.
Since I left Winston-Salem College in North Carolina in 1963, I have been working with youths. My present position is that of a Roving Leader (GS-9) for the Department of Recreation, serving the Cardozo area. At this time, I need only a semester to complete my B.A. degree and I plan to continue my education this summer at D.C. Teachers College. My career has provided me with many opportunities, but the greatest satisfaction I have had is to be able to show other disadvantaged youths that there is a brighter road, and that there are people who want to help them if they are willing to help themselves. I have first hand knowledge of this, as I can remember the moments of frustration in my life which centered around the agony of poverty.
Sir, I have never been a backslapper or handshaker, but I felt an impulse to write and let you know that I am pleased to see you back in the Nation's Capital as our country's President. Most Negroes in the United States are not aware of your past, which surely was not a bed of roses. If they were, I am most certain that they would come to realize that you, as an individual, have had time to accumulate more of an insight into America's problems than any Chief Executive before you.
I am writing this letter, Mr. President, to tell you that if the people give you a chance, and I don't mean blacks and whites, but all the people, they will find out, as I did what a great person you are. Everyone seems obsessed with this racial thing, and talking about black power and white power, but what we need is people power, individuals pulling together to make this a stronger Nation. So here is wishing you all the luck and success there is in the world.
I have enclosed some newspaper clippings which relate to my work as a Roving Leader.
HAROLD K. BELL
ES. You must be shooting in the low 70's now (smile) H.K.B.
[The President, the White House, Washington, D.C. 20500]
Richard Nixon, Exchange of Letters With Harold K. Bell of the District of Columbia. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/239604