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Brookline, Massachusetts (JFK+50) The third child and first daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Rose Marie “Rosemary” Kennedy* was born here in Brookline ninety-eight years ago today, September 13 1918.  Biographer Kate Clifford Larson calls Rosemary “The Hidden Kennedy Daughter.”

According to Ms. Larson, because the family physician, Dr. Frederick Good, was delayed in getting to the Kennedy home, the attending nurse held the baby back into the birth canal but otherwise the birth was normal after his arrival.

As Rosemary grew older, however, her development was described as “markedly different” from her siblings.  She was not able to compete “physically or intellectually.”

In 1924, Rosemary was not promoted to 1st grade and her teacher told her mother that her child was “retarded.”  Although she entered 1st grade in 1925, she was held back the following year.  It wasn’t long until Rosemary was taken out of school and assigned private tutors.

In 1929, Rosemary was enrolled in boarding school in Pennsylvania where she struggled academically.  She attended three different schools in a five year period.  Despite her academic problems, Rosemary had matured into a “lovely young woman, full-figured, poised and sociable.”  

After a stay with her family in London, she returned to Bronxville, NY in late May 1940 where she “receded rapidly” and became “quickly…agitated.”  Her father had subsequently learned about a new psycho-surgery being performed at George Washington University Hospital and met with Dr. Walter Freeman, a psychiatrist, in the fall of 1941. Dr. James Watts, a surgeon, was also consulted.**

The new procedure, known as a labotomy, was to be performed on Rosemary. Two holes were bored into her temple and nerve endings were cut from the frontal lobes to the rest of the brain.  After the fourth cut, Rosemary, who was awake, became incoherent.

Dr. Watts describes the surgery as follows…

“We went through the top of the head.  I think she was awake.  She had a mild tranquilizer.  We put an instrument inside (her brain).”

Kate Clifford Larson describes Rosemary emerging from the procedure “almost completely disabled,” unable to walk or talk.  She would never again have the full use of her limbs.

There is good reason Ms. Larson refers to Rosemary as “the hidden Kennedy daughter.”  Her brothers and sisters were told very little about what had happened.  Rosemary was sent to a private psychiatric facility and in 1929 to Saint Coletta School for Exceptional Children*** in Wisconsin.  She would spend the next sixty years of her life there.

Kate Clifford Larson tells us, however, that there is a silver lining to this terrible Kennedy family tragedy.  Once JFK became President, Eunice Kennedy Shriver persuaded her brother to establish the Committee on Mental Retardation and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

In December 1962, President Kennedy presented the first Kennedy Foundation awards in mental retardation and in 1963 signed the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendments along with the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health  Centers Construction Act.

After JFK’s death, Eunice established Camp Shriver and the Special Olympics.

Eunice said…

“I believe Rosemary…had more to do with the brilliance of (JFK’s) presidency than anyone understands.  It was Rosemary’s influence that sensitized him–more than anyone single individual.  Rosemary made the difference.”

*Rose Marie Kennedy (1918-2005) was born in Brookline, MA.  Diaries published in the 1980s indicate she attended operas, tea dances and social events. Rosemary died at the age of 86 with sisters Jean, Eunice and Patricia & brother Ted, by her side.  She was buried at Holyhood Cemetery next to her parents in Brookline.

**Dr. Freeman continued to perform labotomies for the next 20 years, sometimes 20 or more a day.

***St. Coletta School was founded in 1904 when 10 developmentally disabled students enrolled under direction of Father George Meyer.   In 1983, the Kennedy family made a gift in honor of Mrs. Rose Kennedy’s 93rd birthday to facilitate a program to serve as a model for aging persons with mental retardation.

St. Coletta of Wisconsin’s stated goal is “to be the premier provider of support services for adults with developmental disabilities and other challenges throughout their lifespan.


It was solely Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.’s decision to have the labotomy performed on Rosemary.  Kate Clifford Larson writes that among the alternatives Mr. Kennedy’s choice, a “still very experimental” labotomy, was a radical one.

I want to add this personal note.  My Uncle Willard Elmer White was retarded. As I grew up, my grandparents, Harris and Maude White, provided him the best of care.  After they passed on, my Uncle Earl White continued that care. 

Willard, despite his disability, was a very happy person.  He worked alongside his siblings at White Produce Company in Knoxville, TN.  He knew he was loved and he loved his family.  Like Rosemary, Willard was a very positive influence on our lives.  


“Rosemary, The Hidden Kennedy Daughter,” by Kate Clifford Larson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston and New York, 2015.

St. Coletta School, www.stcolettawi.org/

“The hidden–but quietly influential–life of Rosemary Kennedy,” October 3, 2015, MPRNEWS, www.mprnews.org/



Solomon Islands (JFK+50) Eleven survivors of the PT109, including skipper Lt. John F. Kennedy,  were rescued 73 years ago today, August 7, 1943, by PT-157*.

The survivors were met first by Reginald Evans an Australian coast watcher who had been alerted by JFK’s message carved on a coconut and brought to him by local natives.  Evans radioed this message to Lumberi at 9:20 a.m.

“Eleven survivors PT boat on Gross Is X Have sent food and letter advising senior come here without delay X Warn aviation of canoes crossing Ferguson”

Robert J. Donavan writes that Evans dispatched seven scouts by canoe to retrieve the “senior” member of the 109 crew from Olasana.  Lt. Kennedy was hidden in the canoe and covered with dead palm fronds as the natives paddled out into Blackett Strait.

When they reached shore, JFK stuck his head out of the palm fronds and said to Evans “Hello, I’m Kennedy.”  JFK suggested to Evans that he be permitted to pilot PT boats back to Olasana to pick up his crew.

When PT 157 arrived to pick Lt. Kennedy up, he was upset with the delay in the rescue operation and vented his unhappiness to Lt. W. F. Liebenow** who had greeted him with these words…

“Calm down, Jack, we have some warm food for you.” 

JFK replied sarcastically…

“No thanks, I’ve just had a coconut.”

It was after midnight when JFK rejoined his crew on Olasana and shuttled them aboard PT 157.

*PT-157 was launched on Nov 4, 1942 & assigned to the South Pacific.  It was struck from the naval register on Nov 28, 1945.

**In late May 2013, a book signing was held by PT-157 skipper William ‘Bud’ Liebenow & his torpedoman Weldford West along with the author of “First Up–Chronicles of the PT-157,” Bridgeman Carney.  The event was at the Pages Book & Coffee Shop in Mount Airy, NC.

According to Lyn Riddle of the Greenville (SC) News, the “last surviving member of the PT boat crew that saved Kennedy,” Jack Gardo, died at the age of 87 in November 2013.  Mr. Gardo had not known who JFK was at the time of the rescue.  After the war, he was owner of Greenville Terrazo.


“Book Signing with members of the PT-157 crew,” Winston-Salem Journal, www.journalnow.com/

“Last surviving member of PT boat crew that saved JFK dies,” by Lyn Riddle, Greenville News, The State, November 27, 2013, www.thestate.com/

“PT 109: John F. Kennedy in WWII,” by Robert J. Donovan, McGraw-Hill Publishers, New York, 1961 and 2001.

“PT 157,” NavSource Online, Motor Torpedo Boat Photo Archive, www.navsource.org/


Boston, Massachusetts (JFK+50) It seems like yesterday.  It was one of the most wonderful experiences of our lives.  We didn’t have the opportunity to meet President Kennedy, but meeting his long-time pal and assistant, David F. Powers*, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

We planned a week-long visit to Boston in the summer of 1986.  I wrote a letter to Mr. Powers telling him of our plans to come to the JFK Library and our desire to meet him in person.  He replied to my letter on June 21st.  Dave wrote…

“I am planning my vacation around the middle of July, but I am sure you and your wife will enjoy your visit to the Kennedy Library, and you might inquire downstairs to find out if I happen to be here — in which case I will be happy to say hello.”

So we made our first trip to Boston not really knowing if we would get to see Mr. Powers.  When we arrived at the Library on July 21, 1986, we followed Dave’s instructions and were given passes and put on an elevator to the 6th floor.

Mr. Powers’ secretary ushered us into Dave’s office.  She said he would be with us in a few minutes.  The first thing I noticed was a rocking chair right in front of Dave’s desk.  I thought, ‘Could this be one of JFK’s rockers?’  Oh my, I wanted to sit in it so bad, but could not bring myself to do so.  Suddenly, Dave walked through the door with a wide beaming smile and greeted us.  He turned to my wife and said, “Beverly, please sit down in President Kennedy’s rocker.”

She did….and for the whole visit!

It was quickly obvious why Dave was such a good friend to JFK.  He was so charming and down to earth….like talking to someone you had known all your life.  I’m certain he made every visitor who came into that office feel the same way.

We visited with Mr. Powers for almost an hour.  He was so generous with his time.  As the visit neared the end, he signed a copy of his book for us, and when he learned that we bought it downstairs in the gift shop, he apologized that it cost so much.  He also signed some JFK booklets and magazines and gave us a large color presidential portrait of President Kennedy.

As we departed, Dave urged us to visit the Ye Old Oyster House and ask to sit in the JFK Booth (which we did), and then his secretary showed us into the private suite where the Kennedy family gathered when they visited the library. It had a wonderful view of Boston Harbor.  As I looked in from the open door, I saw a familiar sight….a large world globe that I had seen in pictures of the Oval Office.  I asked if I might go over and touch it.  I did.

My only regret about the visit is that we didn’t get our picture made with Dave. I had a Minolta SRT-101 camera with me, but it did not have a flash.  We did get some pictures outside the library.  

After our tour of the library, we purchased many items in the gift shop including a mug which replicated the inscription on the silver mug JFK gave to Dave Powers on his birthday, April 25, 1962.  The inscription reads…

“There are 3 things which are real:  God, Human Folly, and Laughter.  The first two are beyond human comprehension, so we must do what we can with the third.”

The words are from The Ramayana by Aubrey Mennen.

*David Francis Powers (1912-1998) was born in the Charlestown section of Boston, MA.  He served in the US Army Air Force in WWII & joined JFK’s campaign for Congress in 1946.  DFP was Special Assistant to the President & Assistant Appointment’s Secretary in the Kennedy White House.  He served as Museum Curator at the JFK Library from 1964 to 1994.


Brookline, Massachusetts (JFK+50) The thirty-fifth President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, would have been 99 years old today, May 29, 2016.  Next year on this date will be the centennial of JFK’s birth.

Jack, the second child born to Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy, was born at the family home at 83 Beals Street in Brookline.  The future president was the namesake of his grandfather, John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, once the mayor of Boston.

The birth came at 3 in the afternoon in the 2nd floor master bedroom.  The twin bed nearest the window was chosen to give the best light.  Dr. Frederick Good was the family obstetrician who delivered Jack. 

The proud father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., a Harvard graduate, was the president of Columbia Trust Bank in East Boston.  Joe Sr.’s dad, Patrick J. Kennedy, was a ward boss and Irish-American community leader in Boston


Brookline, Massachusetts (JFK+50) Joe and Rose Kennedy had lived in the home on Beals Street in Brookline since their marriage in 1914.  Mr. Kennedy paid $6500 for the house which was built in 1909.

Mrs. Kennedy said  she loved the “space and air” of the community although it required a 15 minute walk to reach the trolley line.

The house at 83 Beals Street was JFK’s home for his first four years of life. In 1921, the Kennedys moved to a larger house in the same neighborhood. 

JFK was christened on June 19, 1917 at nearby St. Aidan’s Catholic Church where Joe Jr. and Jack would serve as altar boys.   Jack attended the Edward Devotion School, Noble and Greenough Lower School and the Dexter School.

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) One hundred and thirty-five years ago, May 21, 1881, Clara Barton* founded the American National Red Cross at her apartment on I Street here in the Nation’s Capital.  The first local society of the ARC was organized in Dansville, New York in 1882.

The American Red Cross joined the International Red Cross in providing humanitarian aid to victims of wars and natural disasters.

Miss Barton, a nurse during the Civil War, earned the nickname “Angel of the Battlefield.”  She cared for wounded Union soldiers in many battles including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Charleston, Petersburg and Cold Harbor.

Clara Barton said…

“I always tried…to succor the wounded until medical aid and supplies could come up.  I could run the risk.  It made no difference to anyone if I were shot or taken prisoner.”

In addition to her service in the Civil War, she was assigned the duty by President Abraham Lincoln of helping to identify the Union dead at Andersonville.**

Clara Barton was also the first president of the American Red Cross.

*Clarissa Harlowe Barton (1821-1912) was born in North Oxford, Massachusetts.  She earned a teaching certificate at the age of 17 in 1939 & taught in Canada & West Georgia.

CHB attended Clinton Liberal Institute in New York & moved to Washington, DC. in 1855.  She was one of the first women employed by the Federal Government working as a recording clerk in the US Patent Office.After serving as a nurse in the Civil War, she led the American Red Cross for 23 years.


“Founder Clara Barton,” www.redcross.org/



Miami, Florida (JFK+50) Fifty-three years ago today, December 29, 1962, President John F. Kennedy, accompanied by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, welcomed released prisoners of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs to Miami.

The brigade of anti-Castro Cuban exiles hit the beach at Cuba’s Bahia de Cochinos on April 17, 1961.  They had been secretly trained and supported by the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

In presenting the flag of the Cuban Invasion Brigade 2506  to President Kennedy,  Deputy Commander Erneido Oliva said…

“Mr. President, the men of Brigade 2506 give you their banner.  We temporarily  deposit it with you for safekeeping.”

In accepting the flag, President Kennedy broke from his prepared remarks and said…

“Commander, I can assure you that this flag will be returned to this brigade in a free Havana.”

The President went on to say in his formal address…

“You are here following an historic road.  Seventy years ago, Jose Marti, the guiding spirit of the 1st Cuban struggle for independence, lived in exile on these shores.  

You come to us from behind prison walls.  But you leave behind more than 6 million countrymen who are also, in a very real sense, in a prison.  
On behalf of my government & my country, I welcome you to the United States.

I bring you my nation’s respect for your courage & belief in your cause.

Your small brigade is a tangible reaffirmation that the human desire for freedom…is essentially unconquerable.  
I am confident that in your stay here you will sow the seeds of that constructive American which, God willing, in the not too distant future we will see transported to the shores of your beloved island.”

*Emeido Andres Olivia Gonzalez was born in Aguacate, Cuba in 1932 & graduated from the Cuban Military Academy in 1934.  EAOG served as professor of artillery at the CMA from 1955 to 1958 & became deputy commander of Brigade 2506.  He was captured by Castro’s forces on April 23, 1961.

EAOG developed a close relationship with Attorney General Robert Kennedy after his release & continued work in Operation Mongoose in hopes of freeing his people from Castro’s rule.  That work ended when LBJ cancelled all anti-Castro activities.

EAOG earned a Master’s Degree at American University & became Deputy Commanding General of the DC Army National Guard.


“Why Did the Assault Brigade 2506 Give Its Flag to President Kennedy For Safekeeping,” by Erneido A. Oliva, The Cuban-American Military Council, www.camcocuba.org/

See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

See the fireworks jfkplusfifty created by blogging on WordPress.com. Check out their 2015 annual report.

Source: See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.



Wichita, Kansas (JFK+50) Anti-saloon activist Carrie Nation* smashed up a bar located in the Carey Hotel here in Wichita 115 years ago today, December 27, 1900, resulting in thousands of dollars in property damage and her arrest.

In 1880, Kansas had become the first state to ban the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, but many saloon keepers blatantly ignored the law.

Mrs. Nation’s first husband had died of alcoholism fueling her temperance attitudes and following her second husband’s suggestion she began using a hatchet to smash up bars.  Calling the idea the best one he ever had, Carrie Nation began to sell hatchets as souvenirs to raise money for her crusade.

It was in Medicine Lodge, Texas that Carrie became known as “Mother Nation.” In 1903, with the publication of her autobiography, Mrs. Nation officially changed the spelling of her first name to Carry.  This sent the message that she was indeed prepared to “carry a nation” to temperance.

Mrs. Nation, who was arrested more than 32 times during her temperance campaign, paved the way for the passage of the 19th Amendment (Prohibition) and the 20th Amendement (Women’s Vote).

*Carrie Amelia Moore Nation (1846-1911) was born in Kentucky & nursed wounded soldiers in Missouri during the Civil War.  She earned a degree in history and became a teacher.  After the death of he first husband, she remarried David A. Nation, 19 years her senior.  She started a branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in Medicine Lodge, Texas.  CAMN divorced her 2nd husband in 1901.


“Carrie A. Nation (1846-1911) Crusdaer For Prohibition and for the Rights of Women,”  by Kate Kelly, www.americacomesalive.com/

Carry Nation Smashes Bar,” This Day in History: December 27, www.history.com/



Independence, Missouri (JFK+50) Former President Harry S Truman* died forty-three years ago today, December 26, 1972, here in Independence. He was 88 years old.  Mr. Truman, who retired from the presidency in January 1953, referred to himself as “Mr. Citizen.” 

Mr. Truman was sworn in as President of the United States on the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 12, 1945.  By August 1945, President Truman approved the use of atomic weapons on Japan.

During World War II, FDR had authorized the creation of the Office of Strategic Services, O.S.S. to handle intelligence operations for the United States.  Truman dissolved the O.S.S. on September 20, 1945 by executive order.

For a few months, intelligence activities were shared by the Departments of State and War, but on July 26, 1947, President Truman signed into law the National Security Act of 1947 which created both the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The original charge of the CIA was to provide a clearinghouse for foreign policy intelligence and analysis.  One month after the death of President John F. Kennedy, however, former President Truman had come to the conclusion that the “operational duties” of the CIA should “be terminated.”

Writing in the Washington Post, Mr. Truman expressed concern that the agency had “been diverted from its original assignment” becoming instead “a policy-making arm of the Government.”

JFK FACTS argues that “the circumstances” of JFK’s death
“propelled Truman’s radical proposal.”  In original notes written by President Truman available at the Truman Library, he expressed the view that the CIA worked as intended “only when (he) had control.”

During his visit with President Kennedy in January 1961, Mr. Truman said…

“Within the first few months I discovered that being president is like riding a tiger.  A man has to keep riding or be swallowed.”

*Harry S Truman (1884-1972) was born in Lamar. Missouri.  He served in WWI and was partner in a men’s clothing store in Kansas City after the war.

HST was elected to the US Senate in 1934 and was selected as FDR’s running mate in 1944.  He became president upon FDR’s death on April 12, 1945. HST won an upset victory over Thomas E. Dewey in 1948. 


“After JFK was killed former president Truman called for the abolition of CIA covert operations,” JFK Facts, December 22, 2015, www.jfkfacts.org/

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