Watergate buffs may find interesting background material in the August Good Housekeeping, where Pat Nixon reveals a few ex-first family details in an article by Lester David.

For instance, midway through his first term as vice president in 1954, Richard Nixon wrote and dated this statement: "I promise to Patricia Ryan Nixon that I will not again seek public office." In those same days, "Each time a disparaging cartoon of Nixon appeared, Tricia and Julie would come home from school in tears. Having been teased and tormented by their classmates about their "monkey father." Nixon ordered his subscription to The Washington Post stopped so that his daughters would not seen the cartoons in it. 'It's no fun,' Julie said later, 'to have kids tell you your father stinks.'"

The article discloses that Pat Nixon had a special dislike of the Kennedys because of the tough 1960 campaign.

"On the mantle in the First Lady's room was a plague inscribed in Jacqueline Kennedy's handwriting, placed there at her request. It read: 'In this room lived John Fitzgerald Kennedy with his wife Jacqueline during the two years, 10 months and two days he was president of the United States . . .'

"Pat had Mrs. Kennedy's plaque removed an dput in the White House basement, where it remains. She rehung a valuable painting, donated by the Kennedys in JFK's memory, in an inconspicuous spot. And a beautifully landscaped area which Lady Bird Johnson had named the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden was quietly changed to the First Lady's Garden." Examining the Shroud

Crucifixion, not exactly the hottest topic in magazine publishing, gets a thorough examination in the July 21 issue of Science.

The cause for all this is the approaching 400th anniversary of the arrival in Turin, Italy, of The Shroud of Turin, which some believe to have been the cloth used to wrap the body of Christ after his death on the cross. The shroud, which contains the negative image of a crucified man, will be on public view from Aug. 27 through Oct. 8, and an international team of scientists expects to examine the object to reveal "(1) the ingenuity of an extraordinary clever 14th-century forger, (ii) a rare but explicable natural phenomenon, or (iii) the physics of miracles."

Mirabile dictu! Sicence encounters religion. The team will include researchers from the Air Force Weaons Laboratory, The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, whose thermal chemist, Ray Rogers, observes: "If large, complicated natural-product organic molecules were responsible for the image, they should have decomposed, change color, or volatilized at different rates . . . There is no evidence for any variation at all."

The article, by Barbara Culliton, points out that scientists around the world have come to the same conclusion: "Anatomically it fits. Of particular interest is the observation that the nail marks penetrate the wrists rather than the palms, as is characteristic of most artistic represenations of the crucifixion."

Says Rogers: "What better way, if you were a deity, of regenerating faith in a skeptical age, than to leave evidence 2,000 years ago that could be defined only by the technology available in the technical age?"

Stay tuned. Cross-Country Munching

If your hankering for gourmet munchies can barely be quenched, one answer may be a subscription to Tele-food, the magazine of gift-by-phone service ($12 annually from Davies Pub. Co., 136 Shore Drive Hinsdale, Ill. 60521.) Where else can Boston Harbour Tea, Hungarian Sour Cherries in Syrup. Fried Bean Curd, Kjeldsens Butter Cookies, Lanzi's All Natural Carob-Cashew Nut & Rice Crunch candies and Colonial Kitchens of Georgetown's Freeze Dried Shallots all be found together and as close as the nearest telephone?

Telefood also contains some hard facts. About water chestnuts. "Used by the Chinese for centuries:

"Water chestnuts have been grown in this country by the United States Department of Agriculture, but until the costs of harvesting and hand peeling can be slashed, Taiwan, with its moderate labor prices, will remain the sole source for water chestnuts, which are aquatic plants that grow only in marshy soils. East Asian monsoons provide an ideal climate for them." The Sky Is Falling

On the monsoon front, the August Popular Mechanics reports that the heavens are raining down one man-made piece of junk daily. Since the first Sputnik was launched in 1957, 10,500 objects have been placed in orbit - and half of them have come down including:

Remnants of a dismembered reentering satellite that stampeded a cattle herd and sprayed white-hot metal across three states:

A 40-pound chunk of spaceship that hit a Cuban farm, killing a cow.

Debris from a Saturn booster rocket that landed on a German ship at sea;

Parts of a Sputnik that whomped into a Manitowoc, street intersection. Zippers, Razors, Mops

Whitcomb L. Judson, who invented the zipper as a replacement for laces, did not become rich with his "cheap locker or unlocker for shoes" because his 1893 patent was improved on by Gideon Sundback of Westinghouse Electric. Sundback changed the shape of the teeth of the zipper - and the course of Judson's fortunes.

Such are the ways with inventions, 10 of which are examined in the July 22 Saturday Review. Take King Camp Gillette. Until 1914 men refused to give up straight razors. Then the U.S. government bought his invention by the hundreds of thousands for the troops, and a new habit became history.

Another historical footnote: It wasn't only composer Richard Rodgers who brought the bacon home to the family. Wife Dorothy, tired of using rag mops during WWII, received patent number 2,402,577 for theJonny Mop. Pesty Insects

Environmentalists who harken back to the days before pesticides are kidding themselves, says William Tucker in the August Harper's.

"In 19th-century America," he writes in "Of Mites and Men," "Insect problems were so much a part of life that whole towns were sometimes asked to pray for deliverance. Even the pests themselves have not changed to any great degree. Despite the 'rich diversity of crops,' the Colorado potato beetle easily spread across the Midwest in the 1860s and gypsy moths escaped from a silkworm experiment in Boston in 1869, the streets of New England were so infested that caterpillars were crawling up the sides of houses into beds."

Tucker blames environmentalists and the Environmental Protection Agency for demanding research so costly that only two biological (or environmentally safe) pesticides have been approved for marketing in the U.S. Discounts and Air Fare

Two delightful pieces in New York magazine last month: a 16-page discount handbook in the July 17 issue reveals, for instance, that the cheapest place to buy a 21-inch Sony color TV in the Big Apple is at Corner Distributors ($489.95); and Gael Greene's report on TWA's attempt to add haut cuisine to the friendly skies.

"Don't you ever get bored with the repetitious honk of Paul Bocuse friends ask. Aren't you weary of all that sauce choron the endless parade of goat chesse, the chicken wrapped in pig's bladders?"

Not Gael Greene, who admits in "Pie in the Sky" that Bocuse, Roger Verge and Gaston leNotre weren't able to even get their boeuf a l'ancienne off the ground because the Food and Drug Administration will not permit beef to enter the country from abroad for fear of hoof-in-mouth disease. A last-minute substitute was supreme of chicken, and TWA bagged the whole gourmet idea after regular passengers announced they liked the old microwave fare a lot better. Reviewing Brezhnev

The American Spectator - $10 annually from Box 877, Bloomington, Ind., 47401 and published, it declares right in the small print on the masthead, "remarkably without regard to sex, lifestyle, race, color, creed or (most redundantly of all) national origin" - offers a rather unorthodox review of official Leonid Brezhnev's biography "Pages From His Life" in the September/October issue.

"This book isn't for everybody," says reviewer J. D. Lofton. "So who is it for?" People with questions such as:

"Have you ever wondered if, during the 1930s when Leonid worked in the Dzerzhinsky steel mill as 'a good fitter and an even better gas purification machine operator,' he was also a 'good mixer and sought the company of people his own age, especially those who are bold, energetic and eager and considered the building of a new world something close to their hearts.'" The Down's Down

Mariah, "the complete outdoor magazine" ($12 annually from Box 2690, Boulder, Colo. 80322), reports in the August/September issue that the sale of improperly labeled down products has reached "epidemic proportions."

This sounds like typical journalistsically clinched overstatement until you consider that Americans spent $470 millions on down filled goods (slippers, vests, jackets, sleeping bags, etc.) last year.

According to the article, FTC guide lines require that a down-filled garment contain 80 per cent down. But tests in California revealed that some brands of clothing labelled down fill contained mostly chicken feathers.

The FTC is now "looking into" the problem, Mariah says. Bits and Pieces

Other articles of interest: New Times' July 24 on Providence, R.I.'s Mayor Vincent Gianci, accused of raping a woman at gunpoint 12 years ago (publisher George Hirsch claims that his Providence wholesaler refused to distribute the issue); Human Nature's August examination of the similarities of ritual between primitive people and professional baseball players: SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's July 17 special report on money and sports; Saturday Review's July 8 study of regenerated human limbs, one step removed from cloning; the Wilson Quarterly's summer reprint of Richard Rovere's satirical "The American Establishment" from a 1962 Esquire with Rovere's equally jaundiced afterward written for this issue; TV Guide's two-part series on why rock doesn't work on the tube, which concludes in the July 29 Aug. 4 issue.

Summer of the month: the debut issue of Slam, Larry Flynt's "outrageous" humor magazine that manages to be so gross that it's rarely funny. One exception: a Last Supper centerfold that has comedians gathered for the historic meal. Henny Youngman is at the side of the table yelling "Take his life, please," while Joey Bishop asks, "I don't want to make any remarks about Jesus being Jewish, but who else could take a fish and two loaves of bread and turn them into dinner for 80?"

Esquire (with a good piece out currently by the Princeton student who designed a useable atom bomb) soliciting new subscribers with an est-ish letter from editor Clay Felker that declares "it's allright to want success" and includes a bumper sticker that proclaims, "It's alright to want to be a MAN again" . . . Fortune says that Americans spend 784,862,000 hours annually filling out federal forms . . . Magazine advertising revenue exceeded of 1978, a record high, while automotive advertising returned to its position as chief revenue generator for the first time since 1973 . . .Newsweek has launched a South American edition, and Playboy will license foreign editions in Australia and Spain . . .J. D. Colins plans to have Texas Gril magazine, the first state-generated nudie in the country, out this summer . . . another new journal, "Sexuality and Disability," explores what experts in disabled counseling say is the most controversial topic in the field.