One of a kind, then and now

I was 16 when President Kennedy was assassinated. His wife, Jacqueline, was only 35, but to a teenager, she was a grownup. Like most every other teenage American girl, I was enthralled with the First Lady. Oh, to be married to such a handsome man, who also was President of the United States.

A photo I’ve never seen: Jackie and baby John

 

Jackie moved, talked and dressed with a grace and style that was foreign, but fascinating, to me. I could never get enough of her, and I religiously followed her life, from the White House years to widowhood; from her marriage to Onassis to her editorial career at Doubleday; from her relationship in her FOF years with Maurice Tempelsman to her untimely death in 1994 of cancer, months before turning 65.

Jackie lived a few blocks from me, and I once caught a glimpse of her as she crossed Fifth Avenue, near her apartment. She was wearing a scarf on her head and her legendary oversized sun glasses. She couldn’t really hide from anyone.

Last night, I watched a two-hour documentary about Jackie, based on oral history tapes she made after JFK’s assassination. FOF daughter, Caroline, who only recently listened to the tapes, decided to release them exactly as they were recorded by her iconic mother.

I learned that incoming First Lady, 32-year old Jackie, didn’t at all like outgoing First Lady, Mamie Eisenhower; disdained the arrogance of Frenchmen; thought Khrushchev was a “gangster” who “could do whatever he wanted with Jack;” wanted the whole family to die together if the Cuban Missile crisis blew up; really loved Lady Bird and liked LBJ, but wanted to make sure he didn’t take credit for President Kennedy’s accomplishments; didn’t understand why aggressive women, like Claire Booth Luce, had a “queer thing for power;” thought she was the one “Jack loved,” even though she knew he played around mercilessly.

When Jackie told Jack that she couldn’t stand Texas Governor, John Connolly, he responded: “If you say you hate someone, you’ll act like you hate them the next day,” and advised her not to think that way.

“No one we know has a better sense of self,” Ted Kennedy said of Jackie at her funeral service, held at a church a block from my apartment. I took off from work that day to watch mourners enter the church. Although the blocks surrounding the church were cordoned off to the general public, I caught a glimpse of JFK Jr. as he entered.

Thank God Jackie wasn’t around when her son died. She had enough grief when she was 35 to last a lifetime. She was a class act every step of the way.

She’ must be with both her JFKs now! It’s fun to think about it.

 

 

One Response to “One of a kind, then and now”

  1. Cecile says:

    Good morning my FOF friends!

    Geri I just loved your blog this am. I, very much like you, was 16 when JFK was shot. I, too followed Jackie’s life from the day she joined the campaign trail. Mind you, I was in Cuba at the time of the campaign and election, and had just arrived in WA when the missile crisis erupted… so to me JKO’s life is so intertwined with my youth I haven’t been able to help myself for the rest of my life. I have every book ever written about her, every photograph ever published, including the one with JFK Jr., etc. I must have a whole shelf in my library dedicated to the Kennedy-Bouvier-Onassis saga… ever read NEMESIS?
    (It contains parts copied verbatim from Onassis’ biography… shamelessly.. )
    Please tell me what show and channel you watched. I may be able to get a transcript…
    I wasn’t crazy about her Templesman years, but, then, I never walked in her mocassins…
    Thank you so much for this terrific editorial.. I would have never guessed in a trillion years she liked LBJ or her husband who she called Colonel “something” , but I knew she didn’r care for Mamie. The latter didn’t even offer a wheelchair when Jackie went to the White House after the lelection for the customary tour… I didn’t like Mamie either… she was to me as stuffy as her chintz pink and green curtains… hideous.. a very famous golf resort/hotel/equestrian Southern landmark copied them only to take them down ASAP! No clue about her didain for French arrogance… and never knew she didn’t care for Connelly. I think Texas was not her favorite spot…
    Jackie’s death coincided with my son’s graduating from UVA. So on the way back home we stopped in DC and went to Arlington which still reeked of sadness and memories of Camelot…
    Thank you Geri for a beautiful blog!

    Fondly,

    Cécile

    REPLY

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