Posts tagged John F. Kennedy
Posts tagged John F. Kennedy
A bright future ahead?
By Barbara Jones, 1963
Special Delivery-From Heaven
To the Kennedy Family
From John F. Kennedy
Sorry I had to leave right away
I look down and smile at you everyday
Little Patrick says to say Hi
I love you, I’m happy so please don’t cry
And Caroline I’d like to say
How proud daddy was of you that day
When you stood like a lady and watched me go by
You did just like mommy you tried not to cry
Little John John now that you’re the big man
Take care of mommy the best you can
You stood like a soldier , your salute was so brave
Thanks for the flag you put on my grave
And Jackie we had no time for good byes
But I’m sure you could read the farewell in my eyes
Take care of our children and love them for me
I’ll treasure your love through eternity
So please carry on as you did before
Till all of us meet on heaven’s bright shore
Remember I love you remember I care
I’ll always be with you
Though you don’t see me there
Swedish socialite Gunilla von Post, who had an affair with John F Kennedy, has died aged 79.
Miss von Post was just 21 when she began seeing the dashing 36-year-old Massachusetts senator.
The affair began just a few weeks before his marriage to Jacqueline Bouvier and continued two years after the wedding vows were exchanged
She went on to tell all in her memoir Love, Jack, which came out in 1997.
She and Kennedy met by chance in the French Riviera in August 1953.
She had been sent there by her aristocrat father to brush up on her French.
Kennedy was immediately blown away by her natural blonde beauty.
They spent one evening together in which, she recalled: ‘He turned and kissed me tenderly and my breath was taken away.
The brightness of the moon and stars made his eyes appear bluer than the ocean beneath us.’
He admitted he was about to get married and sure enough, three weeks, on September 1 1953, he married Jacqueline Bouvier.
The love letters and trans-Atlantic phone calls soon followed and Kennedy told her he wanted to see her again.
He visited Sweden with a friend in 1955 and the relationship was consummated in August 1955.
She wrote: ‘I was relatively inexperienced, and Jack’s tenderness was a revelation. He said, “Gunilla, we’ve waited two years for this. It seems almost too good to be true, and I want to make you happy”.’
A week later they said theirm tearful goodbyes and a few painful months ensued.
According to Miss von Post, he called his father Joe to tell him he wanted to divorce Jackie and marry Gunilla.
His father said that would destroy his chances of reaching the White House.
Kennedy tried to get her to move to New York and take up modelling but she said she would only do that if they were married.
It was a catch 22 situation which Kennedy ended with one last handwritten note in which he admitted his emotions were ‘complicated.’
Gunilla wrote of her short, sweet romance: ‘I borrowed him for a week, a beautiful week that no one can take away from me.’
Born on July 10, 1932, in Stockholm, her full name was Karin Adele Gunilla von Post.
She went on to marry wealthy Swedish landowner Anders Ekman and three years later she had one final meeting with JFK.
Miss von Post and her husband were guests at a charity ball at the Waldorf Astoria, New York, which was also attended by Kennedy and Jacqueline.
She scribbled a note on a napkin at her table and asked a waiter to pass it to the senator.
Moments later Kennedy signalled to meet him in a corridor.
She wrote: ‘He just gave me a huge hug. And then he said “It’s wonderful to see you. I love you”.’ She said ‘it was lovely.’
She trained in hotel management and cookery and attended a finishing school in Lausanne.
Kennedy’s affairs, from Marilyn Monroe to the reputed girlfriend of a Mafia boss, have been well documented.
Those who doubted Miss von Post’s accounts were forced to eat their words last year when she decided to sell 11 of Kennedy’s handwritten letters and three telegrams on a Chicago online auction site.
The letters were all written after his marriage. In the first, sent five months after his marriage in March 1954, Kennedy asked: ‘Do you remember our dinner and evening together this summer at Antibes and Cagnes?’
In another letter he wrote: ‘I thought I might get a boat and sail around the Mediterranean for two weeks with you as crew. What do you think?’
Unfortunately for the lovelorn couple, he then sent a telegram cancelling it after suffering a back injury that needed surgery.
The sale of the letters raised $115,537.50, beating the original estimate of $50,000.
Anders Ekman died in an accident, and Gunilla later married Weisner Miller, an American IBM executive, and moved to America.
That marriage ended in divorce, but Gunilla continued to enjoy life on the international social circuit, supporting charities and moving between homes in Palm Beach, Sweden, the south of France and Switzerland.
Gunilla von Post is survived by two daughters of her first marriage and a son of her second.
Joe Kennedy and his second boy.
An American scene:
Sixth-grade science classroom in a suburban elementary school, Oct. 23, 1962. At the front, the teacher — a tall, athletic young man — is weeping and telling his young charges, “We are so close to the end of the world.”
The 10- and 11-year-old students sit in stunned silence, at the messenger as well as the message. Few have seen a grown man cry, and certainly not a teacher.
But Oct. 23, 1962, was no ordinary day. The night before, President John F. Kennedy had revealed to the nation that the Soviet Union was placing nuclear missiles capable of destroying much of the United States in Cuba. And for a few days, the world rode the brink of extinction, saved only by the young president’s skillful handling of the crisis and the Soviets’ willingness to back down.
Little more than a year later, JFK was dead, but those students and the science teacher were alive — we were still alive .
- Jack Kennedy ‘Elusive Hero’ by Chris Matthews
JFK campaigning in Portland, Ore., 1959.
HARTFORD, Connecticut - A document discovered at the boarding school attended by John F. Kennedy bolsters a theory that a former headmaster provided inspiration for his famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country,” a school archivist said Thursday.
A notebook where the Choate School headmaster kept fodder for his sermons included a quote from a Harvard University dean who wrote: “The youth who loves his Alma Mater will always ask, not `What can she do for me?’ but `What can I do for her?”’
Kennedy, who sat through the chapel sermons as a teenager in the 1930s, used similar language when he called the nation to service in his 1961 inauguration address.
For years after that speech, other alumni of the school in Wallingford, Connecticut said they heard an echo of headmaster George St. John’s sermons in Kennedy’s address. But archivist Judy Donald at the school now known as Choate Rosemary Hall said they did not have any evidence until she found the quotation three years ago on the first page of one of his notebooks.
“When we found these prose books, we felt OK, here’s the link we were missing,” Donald said.
The document’s discovery was reported first in a new book by television host Chris Matthews.
Historians have debated how much credit for the legendary speech belongs to presidential adviser Theodore Sorenson versus Kennedy. In a 2004 book on the inaugural, “Ask Not,” author Thurston Clarke concludes that Kennedy is the author and explores the connection to Choate, saying the headmaster used to say it’s “not what Choate does for you, but what you can do for Choate.”
Young Kennedy at Choate (1935)
But one JFK biographer, Michael O’Brien, said he was skeptical any headmaster’s sermon would have made an impression on Kennedy. As a teenager, he said, Kennedy was more focused on making plans with friends.
“I don’t think he would have been paying attention to anything like that,” said O’Brien, an emeritus professor of history at University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley and the author of “Rethinking Kennedy: An Interpretive Biography.”
The connection to Kennedy has always been a source of pride for Choate, as has the possible connection to his inaugural address for those who knew about it, according to Donald. She noted that a bust of Kennedy in the administration building is adorned with the “ask not” quote from the speech.
The quotation found in the notebook is an excerpt from an essay by Dean LeBaron Briggs of Harvard University, where St. John graduated in 1902. Choate officials say St. John knew Briggs well and often used his words as inspiration for his sermons.
Before the document came to light, Donald said she had searched through 40 years’ worth of sermons by St. George for the language described by so many graduates. After coming up short, she hired someone else to do it in case she missed something. She described the eventual discovery of the quotation in a long-lost notebook as a “eureka” moment.
“As often happens in archives, things were hiding in plain sight,” she said.
The first time Chris Matthews remembers hearing of John F. Kennedy, he was a 10-year-old Northeast Philadelphia boy obsessed with politics, listening to the 1956 Democratic National Convention on the radio in the family’s ‘54 Chevy Bel Air. Kennedy, then a young senator from Massachusetts, lost a bid for the vice presidential nomination and, then, in a dramatic gesture, bounded to the podium to ask that his opponent, Estes Kefauver, be nominated unanimously. Matthews, a student at the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish school, stayed true to his family’s Republican allegiance and rooted for President Dwight Eisenhower in the fall election. But he never lost his fascination with Kennedy. As a paperboy in 1960, Matthews followed JFK’s progress to the Democratic presidential nomination in the Philadelphia Bulletin, the afternoon paper he tossed onto lawns around the Somerton neighborhood. Later, Matthews joined the Peace Corps that Kennedy founded, and was an aide to President Jimmy Carter and House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D., Mass.) before becoming a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and, ultimately, host of the MSNBC political talk show Hardball. All along the way during his Washington career, Matthews collected stories about Kennedy and got to know many members of the late president’s inner circle. The result is a new book, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. Matthews is scheduled to talk about the book Thursday at the National Constitution Center.
The first time Chris Matthews remembers hearing of John F. Kennedy, he was a 10-year-old Northeast Philadelphia boy obsessed with politics, listening to the 1956 Democratic National Convention on the radio in the family’s ‘54 Chevy Bel Air. Kennedy, then a young senator from Massachusetts, lost a bid for the vice presidential nomination and, then, in a dramatic gesture, bounded to the podium to ask that his opponent, Estes Kefauver, be nominated unanimously.
Matthews, a student at the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish school, stayed true to his family’s Republican allegiance and rooted for President Dwight Eisenhower in the fall election. But he never lost his fascination with Kennedy. As a paperboy in 1960, Matthews followed JFK’s progress to the Democratic presidential nomination in the Philadelphia Bulletin, the afternoon paper he tossed onto lawns around the Somerton neighborhood.
Later, Matthews joined the Peace Corps that Kennedy founded, and was an aide to President Jimmy Carter and House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D., Mass.) before becoming a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and, ultimately, host of the MSNBC political talk show Hardball.
All along the way during his Washington career, Matthews collected stories about Kennedy and got to know many members of the late president’s inner circle. The result is a new book, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. Matthews is scheduled to talk about the book Thursday at the National Constitution Center.
In advance of the event, Matthews answered questions about Kennedy and the book project.
Question: There are thousands of books about Kennedy. What were you hoping to say with yours?
Answer: I always thought of him as a prince, with a charmed life. I tried to find the human Jack I could get my arms around, to try and understand him as a guy, not just a rich prince… . He was a guy who was sick and in horrendous pain all the time - who would say, “I wish I had a few good days.” I really wanted to try to find a way with all these people who knew him to catch him in the middle, the theater in the round, to see all of him by putting together their different points of view.
Q: What insights did you develop into Kennedy that were fresh or surprising to you?
A: How much he was shaped by being in the hospital so much as a kid. Because he was sick, he was a reader, and because he was a reader, Kennedy had heroes. Because he had heroes, he went into politics. [Kennedy liked Sir Walter Scott, King Arthur’s knights, and biographies of political leaders.] If he hadn’t been sick, he might have been like everybody else in the family, a jock. But Jean [Kennedy Smith, JFK’s sister] told me she thinks the whole sports angle has been overplayed, that politics was central to him. This nonsense that he only went into politics because his older brother Joe was killed is not true. He was determined he was going to be in politics, but he would have waited his turn. The idea that he was talked into going into politics to take his brother’s place - you can’t be talked into going into politics. It’s like talking a kid into liking baseball. You liked it or you didn’t. He liked it.
It was fascinating what a total interest he had in his tradecraft of being a politician. I didn’t realize before that he was working on his memoirs all along, how he ran for Congress, that sort of thing. He kept a diary and in the White House dictated his thoughts. He felt real guilt at the killing of [Ngo Dinh] Diem, the leader of South Vietnam. On the Dictaphone, on Aug. 24, 1963, Kennedy talked about his signal to Henry Cabot Lodge to back the coup that knocked the guy off. He was really staggered. Listening, I was amazed at how honest he was.
Q: To me, it was shocking in the recent book Caroline Kennedy put out that Jackie Kennedy said JFK’s mother never loved him.
A: It matches up with what he’d said about his mother. He’d cry when she’d go away. He had leukemia at Choate, or they thought he had leukemia, and she never visited him. Action is character, as they say in drama.
Q: So Jack was basically a lonely boy?
A: The fact is he always had to have somebody around besides Jackie. Whatever their relationship, he wanted company. I think it gets back to all those years in a hospital bed. He liked fresh company, new people to come visit and then leave… . I think he liked the protection of numbers too… . He had compartments. Jackie was in one compartment, and he had his Irish mafia and his personal friends from Choate and the Navy.
Q: You focus on the Cuban Missile Crisis as the biggest test of Kennedy’s character.
A: Like Henry V, he’s flawed and he’s a hero - they’re both true. And that comes together then; you can really see it as a writer. Khrushchev was ready to push the button. He was going to move on Berlin. It could easily have been the trip wire to nuclear war and Kennedy wouldn’t do it. All the experts around him - McGeorge Bundy, [Gen.] Curtis LeMay - wanted to bomb Cuba and go to war. He said, “No we won’t do that… .”
It was his coldness and his detachment, his ability to stand next to another person and not let their emotions affect him. [Kennedy’s friend] Chuck Spalding at the wedding said Jack was two guys: the groom and somebody else observing from a distance… . It must have been maddening to be married to a guy like that, but you could at the same time argue that characteristic kept the world from being blown up… . He was Arthur, the guy in the middle of the room with all the swords pointed at him… . He wanted control of the situation.
Q: Many people are fascinated by the relationship between Jackie and Jack. What did she know, and why did she put up with his infidelities?
A: That’s the part you can never get to. Did it hurt her, his behavior? … I wanted to know how Jackie felt about it, and I got to know Rachel “Bunny” Mellon. Bunny and her were buddies. I asked, “How do you know what Jackie knew?” And Bunny said, “She told me.”… Jackie called him “Magic.” Bunny said she just picked her man. That was it. This was the guy she loved
Q: Are there parallels between Presidents Obama and Kennedy?
A: I see some parallels but I don’t see the leadership that this guy [Kennedy] had of other men and women. It’s more than being the smartest guy in room… . The Kennedys formed a Kennedy party. I don’t sense an Obama party. I think politics is transactional for him. The real difference between relationship politics and transactional politics is loyalty. Obama doesn’t seem to expect it.