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Archive for the month “April, 2012”

THE END OF THE BEGINNING IV

April 29, 2012

“JOHNNY WE HARDLY KNEW YE”: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, The End of the Beginning IV

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report on Chapter 1 of the book by Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers with Joe McCarthy.  It is published by Little, Brown & Company.



The title of Chapter 1 is “The End of the Beginning”.

Kenneth O’Donnell continues to describe JFK’s trip to Texas.  He writes:

“The President peered out the window at the big crowd (at Dallas Love Field) & said…

‘This trip is turning out to be terrific.  Here we are in Dallas, & it looks like everything in Texas is going to be fine for us.'”

Ken O’Donnell goes on to say that the motorcade through the city was “the greatest” of the entire Texas trip.

Then he describes in detail what he & Dave Powers observed as they were riding in the secret service follow-up car directly behind the Presidential car.

“We heard shots, two close together & then a third one.  There must have been an interval of at least 5 seconds before the 3rd & last shot.”

Kenny continues…

“While we both stared at the President, the third shot took the side of his head off.

I said to Dave, ‘He’s dead.'”

When the motorcade reached Parkland hospital, Dave Powers rushed up to see JFK in Jackie’s arms & said:

‘Oh, my God, Mr. President, what did they do?”

Kenny says that then Dave saw that although JFK’s eyes were open, they were fixed in a vacant stare.  Then David Powers broke down.*

*I have mentioned before in this blog that during my visit with Mr. Powers at the JFK Library in 1986 I found it most difficult to discuss the assassination. 

Although I wanted to know what he saw & what he thought, I could not bring myself to bring the topic up except to tell him that I appreciated that the Library focused on JFK’s life instead of his death.  

With that simple statement, I could see in Dave’s eyes, it was something he didn’t want to talk about. 

In a documentary video, I remember Dave’s comment which said it all: 

“November 22, 1963 was the saddest day of my life.”






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THE END OF THE BEGINNING III

April 28, 2012

“JOHNNY WE HARDLY KNEW YE”: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, The End of the Beginning III

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report on Chapter 1 of the book by Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers with Joe McCarthy.  It is published by Little, Brown & Company.



The title of Chapter 1 is “The End of the Beginning”.

Kenneth O’Donnell describes JFK as “the most insatiably curious man who ever walked the face of the earth”…a man who “always wanted to know everything about everybody.”

Mr. O’Donnell’s description comes in a discussion of the President’s curiosity about a recent birthday party for his brother, Bobby, which he had missed.

JFK wanted to know “who was there, what did they have to say (and) what happened.”

Kenny then returns to the 1963 visit to Texas.

He writes that on November 22, JFK was concerned about getting the wrong weather forecast & that his wife’s clothes “might be too warm.”

But, JFK was pleased with the warm reception they received in San Antonio the day before & the even larger & more enthusiastic crowds in Houston.

On the morning of November 22, Mr. O’Donnell says that JFK’s mood changed “when he picked up the Dallas News & saw….an ugly black-boarded advertisement.”*

Kenny goes on to say that later the President, after showing the ad to his wife, said “We’re heading into nut country today” and “If somebody wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it?”



*The ad bore the headline “Welcome, Mr. Kennedy to Dallas” then included a number of questions for JFK such as “Why have you ordered or permitted your brother Bobby, the Attorney-General to go soft on Communists?”


THE END OF THE BEGINNING II

April 27, 2012

“JOHNNY WE HARDLY KNEW YE”: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, The End of the Beginning II

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report on Chapter 1 of the book by Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers with Joe McCarthy.  It is published by Little, Brown & Company.



The title of Chapter 1 is “The End of the Beginning”.

One morning, Kenneth O’Donnell writes, President Kennedy was shaving when Press Secretary Pierre Salinger walked in with the news that the Republicans would nominate conservative Barry Goldwater of Arizona for President in 1964.

JFK said:

“Dave Powers could beat Goldwater.”

O’Donnell goes on to say that JFK believed the Republicans would ultimately choose a more moderate candidate like George Romney*.

Here is where Kenneth O’Donnell makes the case for JFK changing course in Vietnam during his second term.

Kenny writes:


“He told me privately before we went to Texas, he had made up his mind that after his reelection he would take the risk of unpopularity & make a complete withdrawal of American military forces from Vietnam.”

JFK believed, according to O’Donnell, that the war would grow larger & more costly but without changing the dynamic of communist expansion in Southeast Asia.

Kenny points out that JFK was advised by both General Douglas MacArthur & French president Charles de Gaulle that the United States would forever remain “outnumbered on every side.”

Then O’Donnell goes on to repeat the story of a National Security Council meeting where a Marine general & State Department officer had just returned on the same plane from Vietnam.

The general said the war was going great & the Diem government was strong while the State Department officer said the Diem government was near collapse.

JFK responded:

“Were you two gentlemen in the same country?”


*George Romney (1907-1995) was chairman of American Motors (1954-1962) & Governor of Michigan (1963-1969). He is the father of current Republican front-runner Mitt Romney.


George Romney & President Nixon, White House Cabinet Room,
June 23, 1969, Photo by Jack E. Kightlinger, NARA image.


      

                        


THE END OF THE BEGINNING I

April 26, 2012

“JOHNNY WE HARDLY KNEW YE”: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, The End of the Beginning I

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we begin our report on Chapter 1 of the book by Kenneth P. O’Donnell*& David F. Powers** with Joe McCarthy***.  It is published by Little, Brown & Company.


The title of Chapter 1 is “The End of the Beginning”.

Ken O’Donnell & Dave Powers begin Chapter 1 with a reflection on JFK’s last full day on earth.  It was November 21, 1963, when the President was leaving for Texas.


JFK was “looking forward eagerly to his best years.”

Ken & Dave write that “everything seemed right for him, and for all of us.”

Ken says that JFK felt great as he left for Texas.  He said, “My back feels better than it’s felt in years.”

Mr. O’Donnell writes that he was shocked when he learned Mrs. Kennedy would be going with JFK to Texas.  

Kenny expresses the view that the 1st family’s trip to Texas in November 1963 was all about getting votes & raising money for the upcoming re-election bid in 1964.


*Ken O’Donnell was JFK’s Appointments Secretary, but also political right hand.

**Dave Powers was JFK’s Presidential Assistant & close personal friend.

***Joe McCarthy was a freelance writer whose articles appeared in Life & other popular magazines.





DAVID FRANCIS POWERS WOULD HAVE BEEN 100 YEARS OLD TODAY!

April 25, 2012

DAVID FRANCIS POWERS WOULD HAVE BEEN 100 YEARS OLD TODAY!


Boston, Massachusetts (JFK+50) Special Assistant to President John F. Kennedy, David Francis Powers, would have been 100 years old today.


David F. Powers, Special Assistant to the President, White House Cabinet Room, Nov 19, 1962, Photo by Robert Knudsen


Mr. Powers, born on April 25, 1912, became a close personal & political friend of JFK in 1946 & would be with him until that tragic day in Dallas on November 22, 1963.


He served as the museum curator of the John F. Kennedy Library from 1964 to 1994.


During WWII, Mr. Powers served in the United States Air Force.


He co-authored “‘Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye’: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy” with Kenneth P. O’Donnell.  The book was published in 1970.*


Dave Powers died on March 27, 1998.


Following is a newspaper report on the death of Mr. Powers published in the Knoxville News Sentinel on that day.  The report was by The Associated Press.


DAVE POWERS, AIDE & FRIEND OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY, IS DEAD

BOSTON — Dave Powers, the Boston Irishman who was JFK’s famously devoted aide every step of the way to the White House & who served after JFK’s assassination as the keeper of the Camelot legend, died Friday at 85.


     Powers came to be known as Kennedy’s “coatholder” because he spent his life tending to JFK’s career, his widow & children, & finally his legacy, as curator of the JFK Library museum.


     The child of Irish immigrants, Powers had an Irish-Catholic upbringing in the Charlestown section of Boston.  He hawked newspapers on the waterfront, spent Sundays at the church assisting at five Masses, & knew everyone in the neighborhood.


     After JFK was elected president in 1960, Powers served as an unofficial greeter at White House functions & as a full-time friend to the president.


     Powers was riding in the presidential motorcade in Dallas when JFK was shot on Nov 22, 1963.  When the president’s car reached Parkland Hospital, Powers helped remove Kennedy & place him on a stretcher.


     ‘Dave Powers was a loyal & devoted friend whom my mother & father adored.’ said Caroline Kennedy, JFK’s daughter.  ‘I will always be grateful for his personal kindness & for his tireless efforts on behalf of the Kennedy Library.’


     Powers is survived by his wife, Jo, a son, two daughters & three grandchildren.



*Tomorrow JFK+50 will begin our report on this classic JFK book.  The title is based on a traditional Irish anti-war song about Irish troops from Athy, County Kildare who fought in “Sulloon” (today Sri Lanka) for the East India Company.


April 25, 1962


PRESIDENT GIVES AIDE DAVE POWERS A BIRTHDAY GIFT


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50)  Today President John F. Kennedy gave Dave Powers, his Special Assistant & longtime confidant, a silver beer mug for a birthday present.


The mug bears the following inscription:


“There are three things which are real; God, Human Folly & Laughter.  The first two are beyond our comprehension, So we must do what we can with the third.”


The inscription is from “The Ramayana” by Aubrey Mennen.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS, SEVENTH CONVERSATION XXIV

April 23, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION XXIV

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 concludes our report on the seventh & final conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.


The seventh conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger says:

“I think (JFK) was planning to go….in the spring to the Far East.”

Jacqueline Kennedy responds:

“It would have been so incredible for him to go to Japan, when you think Eisenhower couldn’t go there.*

*President Eisenhower’s trip to Japan in 1960 was cancelled due to anti-American riots.

I just wish he could have seen more good things come in, that he worked so hard for.  

The tax bill, the civil rights bill, the economy up so high. 

Think of all those businessmen who still say awful things about him, &….the (GNP) has never been so high.”

Mrs. Kennedy continues:

“To go to Japan & to go to Russia.  If he could have just seen all those….& won.  If he could have just won, & he was so praying it would be (Barry) Goldwater** that he’d have to run against.” 

**Barry Goldwater (1909-1998), conservative Republican senator from Arizona & a personal friend of JFK’s, was defeated by LBJ in 1964 by a landslide.

Mr. Schlesinger asks:

“(JFK) would have liked to run against Goldwater?”

Mrs. Kennedy answers:

“It (would have been) just too good to be true.”

Mr. Schlesinger asks:

“Did he look forward to the ’64 campaign?”

Jackie responds:

“Oh, yes.  And I looked forward to it so much.  It was one you could do together.  

He really looked forward to it, & then to winning & then to just sort of solidifying.

Jacqueline Kennedy concludes this final conversation on the topic of JFK’s ability to sleep.

She says:

“(Jack) could always go to sleep….which I thought was so important.  He could just turn (the problems) off.  I always thought any president would become an insomniac.  But Jack had this built-in thing….like soldiers in a foxhole.  When it was time to go to sleep, he just could.  And that that was…..fortunate.”

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION XXIII

April 22, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION XXIII

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on the seventh conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.


The seventh conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger asks:

“Did the President often talk much about the things he would like to do?”

Jacqueline Kennedy answers:

“I know (Jack) was going to get rid of J. Edgar Hoover*, the minute (he was re-elected????) & he always said that those were the two things he did first-(keeping) Hoover & Allen Dulles**, which I guess he had to do at the time.

He couldn’t have not.”

Mr. Schlesinger then asks:

“Did he….ever talk about….what he would do with the FBI?”

Mrs. Kennedy responds:

“No, he didn’t say who he’d make, & then Bobby was going to leave the Justice Department.  I think he might have made Nick Katzenbach*** the head, I’m not sure.

I know there was going to be a domestic peace corps….& I know he was going to do this (war on) poverty thing.

And I know he really cared about….Appalachia.  And he was going to Russia.”

*J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) served as FBI director under 6 Presidents.  His long tenure only ended with his death at the age of 77.


J. Edgar Hoover, FBI Director, 1961


**Allen Dulles (1893-1969) served as CIA director under Ike & JFK.  He was forced to resign after the Bay of Pigs.  LBJ appointed him as a member of the Warren Commission.

***Nicholas Katzenbach (1922-    ) served as RFK’s deputy at the Justice Department & as Attorney General under LBJ.

JFK+50 COMMENT:

Tomorrow’s entry will be the final report on Jacqueline’s Kennedy’s Historic Conversations.  We thank Caroline Kennedy for making the decision to release them on the 50th anniversary of the beginning her father’s presidency (1961-2011).

We should remember that some of the views Mrs. Kennedy expressed were from, as Caroline has said, “a moment in time” & some of these views changed as the years passed.

If you have not listened to the recordings which are available with the book, JFK+50 recommends you do so.

You can access the Hyperion website by clicking on the icon on the lower right side of this blog.

Thank you for your interest.

John White

Knoxville, Tennessee

April 22, 2012





JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION XXII

April 21, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION XXII

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on the seventh conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.



The seventh conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Jacqueline Kennedy continues her discussion of some of the comedy skits done on the First Family.

Mrs. Kennedy says:

“I went to the Women’s Press Club dinner….& a woman named Bonnie Angelo* came out on a tricycle as Caroline & sang some awful song.”

*Bonnie Angelo (1924-     ) covered Mrs. Kennedy for Time magazine.


Jacqueline Kennedy continues….

“The next year, I wouldn’t go & that Bonnie Angelo was president. (Press Secretary) Pierre (Salinger) really got upset by that.

I just felt so strongly about those children.  It was hard enough protecting them in the Kennedy family, where some of the cousins….were so conscious of the position, & would always wear Kennedy buttons & would play that record, ‘My Daddy Is President, What Does  Your Daddy Do?’**

**’My Daddy Is President’ was sung by 7 year old “Little Jo Ann” Morse in baby talk with a bossa nova beat.

I hid all those things from my children & always taught them that the White House was sort of temporary.”

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS, SEVENTH CONVERSATION XXI

April 20, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION XXI


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on the seventh conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.



The seventh conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.


Arthur Schlesinger asks Jacqueline Kennedy:


“What did (JFK) think of all these skits* about himself, like The First Family, & so on?  Did he ever listen to them?”


*Mr. Schlesinger is referring to a long play record album (vinyl) “The First Family” starring Vaughn Meader.**  


The album included a number of  ‘skits’ which poked fun at JFK & his family.  


**The First Family was the fastest-selling record in history. It sold 7.5 million copies.




Jacqueline Kennedy answers:


“I think he listened (but) I’m not sure he listened to all of that record.  I listened to one side, & then threw it away because I didn’t want my children to see it.”


Mrs. Kennedy continues:


“He obviously didn’t like it, but I was the one who got much more worked up about those things, I thought it was so mean.


I didn’t care if they made fun of me….but when they made fun of little children.


So I’d get upset about those skits, but he didn’t like to see me get upset.  But….he knew it was part of being President.  And because it was such a different & young family, there was so much more to make skits about with us, which he said, sort of wryly, to me once.”


JFK+50 COMMENT


I will paraphrase one of the skits.  JFK & Jackie are preparing to turn in for the night & Jackie says “Family, family, family.  That’s all it ever is. Jack, can’t we be alone together for a change.”


JFK promises that they will & then says “Good night, Jackie.”  She answers, “Good night, Jack.”  


Then there is a pause followed by JFK saying:


“Good night, Bobby.  Good night, Ethel. Good night, Teddy, etc…..”

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION XX

April 19, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION XX

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on the seventh conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.



The seventh conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger asks Jacqueline Kennedy:

“What place relaxed him most, do you think, of the various places you went?”

Mrs. Kennedy answers:

“It was really the boat that relaxed him most…& the reason for that was, there was no telephone.  He was awful about the phone.  It could….ring but he wouldn’t answer it.”

Mrs. Kennedy goes on to say that JFK was perfectly happy sitting out on the boat in the freezing cold & “thought everyone (else) would love the boat because that was his away from care.”

She continues….

“(Jack) loved the sun & the water & no phone.  And….(he) always had friend there….he never used the boat for working.”*

*Mrs. Kennedy mentions JFK’s father’s boat the “Marlin” & the “Honey Fitz”. 


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