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Archive for the month “July, 2012”

REMINISCENCES

July 31, 2012

“REMINISCENCES”

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

We will conclude Chapter 12 &  go on to Chapter 14.  (We are skipping Chapter 13, ‘Our Short Stay with LBJ.”)

The title of Chapter 14 is “Reminiscences”

At the close of Chapter 12, “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye,” Kenneth O’Donnell recalls that at one of the last press conferences, a reporter asked JFK why he wanted to serve a 2nd term as President.

JFK responded:

“Well, I find the work rewarding.  I have given before….the Greek definition of happiness.  It is the full use of your powers along lines of excellence.  I find, therefore, that the Presidency provides some happiness.”

 

It would be with the thoughts of re-election that JFK met on November 13, 1963 to discuss the coming campaign.  It was at that meeting that the trip to Texas was finalized.

In the final chapter of this great book, Kenny writes:

“The memories will always keep coming back.”

 

Kenny tells us that John F. Kennedy was ‘sincerely unpretentious’ & did not take himself so seriously.

He writes that JFK “despised cliches & was probably the only President….who flatly refused to make any mention of General Lafayette in a speech on good relations between (the U.S.) & France.”

 

Kenny admits, however, that Jack Kennedy was “the world’s worst loser.  Even in small things, a race against a traffic light or a bet on a golf match, he hated to be beaten.”

 

Kenny continues….

“Everybody who worked with (JFK) agrees that he wanted to know everything there was to know about a subject.”

 

and

“Above all, we remember John Fitzgerald Kennedy as the most skillful politician of his generation.”

 

And Kenneth O’Donnell & Dave Powers conclude with these words:

“(The) conviction that a career in politics would be his best way of helping to keep the world & the nation at peace was never weakened.  To John Kennedy, politics was keeping peace.

 

He died when he was looking forward to bright years….

 

James Reston* said it well when he wrote….

 

‘What was killed in Dallas was not only the President but the promise.  The heart of the Kennedy legend is what might have been.  All this is apparent in the faces of the people who come daily to his grave on the Arlington Hill.’

 

As the hand-lettered farewell message at Shannon Airport suggested, we hardly knew him.”

 

JFK+50 COMMENT

We have been publishing this blog with very few daily breaks since November 2010 & have been gratified by the great interest of so many visitors to JFK+50.

It is now time, however, to take a little break.

Please give us a few days off & we will resume JFK+50 after a much needed vacation.

Thanks.

John White

*James ‘Scotty’ Reston (1909-1995) was a long time correspondent for the New York Times.  He won the Pulitzer Prize twice & interviewed Nikita Khrushchev after the Bay of Pigs & President Kennedy after the Vienna Summit.

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JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE XVII

July 30, 2012

“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE” XVII

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report of Chapter 12 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 12 is “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye”

 

Kenneth O’Donnell says that after Patrick’s death, JFK sent Jackie on a Mediterranean cruise while he made a tour of 11 Western states promoting conservation.  

 

Kenny points out that 8 of the 11 states he had lost in 1960.

 

On September 24, 1963, the day he left Washington, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was approved by the U.S. Senate.

 

The Western tour ended with a stay at Bing Crosby’s estate in Palm Springs.

 

Kenny explains how this turn of events upset Frank Sinatra because he had been planning to entertain JFK at his home.

 

Kenny tells us the Secret Service chose Crosby’s home because of security issues, but Peter Lawford* ‘was hysterical’ when he learned of the change.

 

Lawford called Kenny & said: ‘Don’t you realize Bing Crosby is a Republican?’

 

Kenny answered: ‘I don’t care if he’s a Red Chinaman–the Secret Service likes his place better than Sinatra’s place & that’s it.’

 

On October 7, 1963, JFK signed the formal ratification of the NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY in the TREATY ROOM at the White House.

 

Kenny tells us that this ceremony gave President Kennedy the deepest personal satisfaction in his time as President of the United States.

 

*Peter Lawford (1923-1984) was born in London where his family had connections to the British aristocracy.  He started acting in movies when he was 7 & won acclaim in 1944 for his role in ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’.

 

He appeared with Frank Sinatra in the musical ‘It Happened on Broadway’  in 1947.

 

In 1954, Peter Lawford married Patricia Kennedy, JFK’s sister & in 1960 when JFK ran for President, Frank Sinatra dubbed him “the brother-in-Lawford.”

 

Peter Lawford, Royal Wedding, 1951

 

                              

JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE XVI

July 29, 2012

“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE” XVI

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report of Chapter 12 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 12 is “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye”

 

Kenneth O’Donnell writes about August 7, 1963, the day when Jackie delivered a baby boy, 5 weeks premature, at Otis AFB.

 

Kenny tells us that her obstetrician, Dr. John Walsh, rushed her to the air base hospital & the President flew to be with her.

 

The baby, delivered by Caeserean section, weighed 4 pounds 10 1/2 ounces.

 

He was immediately baptized by the base chaplain & named PATRICK BOUVIER KENNEDY.

 

Patrick, having breathing difficulties, was transferred to Children’s Medical Center in Boston & then to Harvard’s School of Public Health where he was placed in a high-pressure oxygen chamber.*

 

*Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, also known as Hyaline membrane disease, occurs in the underdeveloped lungs of premature infants.  The condition worsens 2 to 4 days after birth.

 

Source: PubMedHealth @ www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

 

JFK spent the night at the hospital with Dave Powers.  At 2 a.m. he was informed that the baby’s condition was worsening.

 

While waiting for the elevator, the President saw a severely burned child in one of the rooms.  He found out the mother’s name & wrote a note of sympathy for her.

 

Dave said later…

 

“There he was, with his own baby dying downstairs but he had to take the time to write a note to that poor woman, asking her to keep her courage up.”

 

Two hours later Patrick passed away.

 

JFK said:

 

“He put up quite a fight.  He was a beautiful baby.”

 

Then the President went upstairs to his room & cried.

 

Patrick’s funeral was celebrated by Cardinal Cushing on August 10 in the small chapel at his home.  The baby was buried at Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline near the house where JFK was born.**

 

Kenny goes on to say that “the loss of Patrick affected (JFK) & Jackie more deeply than anybody…..realized.”

 

Later in October while attending a Harvard football game, JFK suddenly decided to leave & go visit Patrick’s grave.

 

With the help of the Secret Service & a police officer, the President & Dave managed to make it to the cemetery alone.

 

JFK, looking at his son’s grave, said to Dave: ‘He seems so alone here.’

 

**After JFK’s burial at Arlington, both Patrick’s remains & those of an unnamed stillborn Kennedy infant buried at Newport were both placed beside their father.

 

Gravestone of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, Arlington National Cemetery, Photo by wKnight94, 2011

 

 

 

 

JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE XV

July 28, 2012

“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE” XV

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report of Chapter 12 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 12 is “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye”

 

Kenneth O’Donnell writes that before JFK returned to Washington after the July  4th, 1963 weekend at Hyannis Port, he had been “able to play five holes of golf for the 1st time in 2 years.”

 

Kenny goes on to tell us that during July, Dave Powers “spent almost every night with the President after he worked late or took an evening swim…”

 

During the evening they would sit out on the TRUMAN BALCONY* & listen to records on the stereo (phonograph).

 

JFK’s favorites were dance songs of the 1930s & 1940s.  He liked….

 

‘Beyond the Blue Horizon’

‘The Very Thought of You’

‘Stardust’

‘Stormy Weather’

‘Body & Soul’

 

Despite his troubles both foreign & domestic as President of the United States, Kenny says that in the summer of 1963 “(JFK) seemed….more forceful & sure of himself, & more relaxed & happier than we had ever seen him to be.”

 

*In 1947, President Harry S Truman proposed a balcony be installed on the South Portico of the White House adjacent to the Yellow Oval Room on the 2nd floor.

 

While the proposal did raise controversy, architect William Adams Delano approved the cost estimate of $16,050.74.  

 

Truman provided for the funds from his household account & the Truman Balcony was completed in March 1948.

 

The Truman Balcony, South Portico, The White House, Washington, D.C. (2008)

 

 

                 

JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE XIV

July 27, 2012

“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE” XIV

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report of Chapter 12 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 12 is “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye”

 

Kenneth O’Donnell writes about JFK’s visit to ITALY.

 

He landed at MILAN & spent the day at Lake Como for some rest & relaxation before going on to ROME on Monday, July 1, 1963.

 

There he had a 2 hour discussion with Antonio Segni*, President of Italy.

 

*Antonio Segni (1891-1972) was President of Italy from 1962-1964.  He was born in Sassari, Sardinia. 

 

He became a lawyer & was a professor at the University of Sassari.  Segni was an organizer of the Christian Democratic Party & was elected to Parliament in 1948.

 

On Tuesday, JFK had an audience with the Pope.

 

JFK & Pope Paul VI, The Vatican, July 2, 1963

 

Afterwards they drove to North American College where JFK was greeted by Cardinal Cushing who had come from Boston for the new Pope’s coronation.

 

JFK’s last stop was NATO HQ in Naples where JFK received the “noisiest demonstration of his European tour...”

 

and Kenny adds….

 

with bigger crowds than we had seen in Berlin showing a more overwhelming explosion of hero worship than even the hero-loving Germans had displayed.”

 

President Kennedy was back at his desk on Wednesday, July 3, 1963.

 

He would be off the following day for a weekend visit to Cape Cod with Mrs. Kennedy & John & Caroline.

 

 Kenny tells us JFK’s bags included pictures & movie films of his visit to Ireland “that he was eager to show” to his family.

JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE XIII

July 26, 2012

“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE” XIII

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report of Chapter 12 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 12 is “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye”

 

Kenneth O’Donnell says that after leaving Ireland, JFK made an “unscheduled & unpublicized stop” to visit the grave of his sister Kathleen* at Chatsworth, England.

 

Kathleen, who was called Kick, had died in a plane crash in France in 1948.

 

Kenny adds that this was JFK’s 1st & last visit to the grave.

 

“He knelt  & prayed, & watched (sister) Jean place a bouquet of red & white roses beside the headstone….”

 

*KATHLEEN AGNES KENNEDY CAVENDISH (1920-1948)

 

The 4th child of Joseph P. & Rose F. Kennedy, she was educated at Queen’s College in London.  During WWII, she served in the American Red Cross in England.

 

“Kick” married William “Billy” Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington in 1944 but he was killed in the war that same year.

 

Lady Hartington died in 1948 & is buried in the Cavendish family plot at St. Peter’s Church in Edensor near Chatsworth in Derbyshire, England.

 

Kathleen Kennedy, 1943, American Red Cross Volunteer, London, England, JFK Library Photo

 

      

 

 

JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE XII

July 25, 2012

“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE” XII

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report of Chapter 12 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 12 is “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye”

 

Kenneth O’Donnell writes that during a small & informal dinner on his last night in Ireland, JFK told Bean de Valera, the wife of Ireland’s president, that he would be leaving her country from Shannon* Airport the next day.

 

*Shannon, on the Shannon River in western Ireland, was built in the 1960s on reclaimed marshland near the airport.  The city, whose airport was the world’s 1st duty free airport, is located in County Clare.

 

Mrs. de Valera recited a poem about the Shannon River.

 

JFK wrote the lines on a couple of place cards, memorized the words the next morning & recited the poem as he said good-bye at the airport.**

 

**‘Tis the Shannon’s brightly glancing stream,

  Brightly gleaming, silent in the morning beam, oh! the sight entrancing.

  Thus return from travels long, years of exile, years of pain

  To see Old Shannon’s face again,

  O’er the waters glancing.’

 

On the way to the airport, two stops were made, one at Galway & the other at Limerick.***

***see JFK Visits Galway at www.jfk50.blogspot.com/2011/06/jfk-visits-galway-limerick.html

 

80,000 people were waiting for JFK at the city square in GALWAY.

 

At Limerick he said:

 

“Last night somebody sang a song, the words of which I am sure you know, ‘Come back to Erin…..come back arue to the land of thy birth, come with the shamrock in the springtime…’.

 

This is not the land of my birth, but it is the land for which I hold the greatest affection, & I will certainly come back in the springtime.”

 

Kenny tells us that as they drove across the field to AF1, he saw someone with a sign bearing the title of another popular Irish song, a sad ballad about a young man who left his girl to go to war where he would be killed. 

 

Kenny remembers that when they were bringing the President’s body back to Washington, D.C. from Dallas, he thought of that sign & added “I think of it often now.”

 

The sign bore these words:

 

“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE.”

JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE XI

July 24, 2012

“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE” XI

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report of Chapter 12 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 12 is “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye”

 

Kenneth O’Donnell tells us that after JFK left the Dail, he hurried to DUBLIN CASTLE. 

 

There he was invested as a freeman of the city & given honorary degrees from the Catholic National University of Ireland* & the Protestant Trinity College**.

 

*The Catholic University of Ireland was founded in 1851 but became the National University of Ireland in 1909.

 

**Trinity College, modeled after Oxford & Cambridge, was founded in 1592.

 

In his speech, President Kennedy said:

 

“I want to say how pleased I am to have this association with these two great universities.  I now feel equally a part of both, & if they ever have a game of Gaelic football or hurling, I shall cheer for Trinity & pray for National.”***

 

***I wrote to Dave Powers on Oct 9, 1987 inviting him to join me at the football game to be played at Chestnut Hill between Boston College & the University of Tennessee.  

 

In his reply of Oct 14, he thanked me for the invitation but declined because ‘I am not up to weekend sporting events any more.’

 

Before I left Knoxville for the game, I sent Dave an orange UT sweatshirt.  His answer follows:

 

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library

Columbia Point

Boston, Massachusetts 02125

 

October 30, 1987

 

Dear John:

 

What a great sweatshirt – I’ve worn it already – the weather is perfect for it right now.  I certainly appreciate your thoughtfulness.

 

This weekend while watching the game (on TV) I’ll cheer for Tennessee & pray for B.C.

 

Thanks a million.

 

With my very best wishes,

 

Dave Powers

Museum Curator

 

JFK+50 Comment:

 

Praying apparently was more effective than cheering as the Boston College Eagles upset the mighty Volunteers 20 to 18.  BC finished the season with a 5-6 record while Tennessee was 10-2-1.

JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE X

July 23, 2012

“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE” X

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report of Chapter 12 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 12 is “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye”

 

Kenneth O’Donnell discusses JFK’s speech to the combined houses of the Irish Parliament which was the 1st ceremony in the DAIL’s legislative chamber to be shown on national television.

 

Kenny describes it as a speech with “flashes of easy wit, graceful literary quotations, moving praise of Ireland’s courageous history, its contributions to culture & to America……..just the kind of talk that IRELAND wanted to hear from him.”

 

Mr. O’Donnell points out that it was in this speech that President Kennedy 1st used a quotation from GEORGE BERNARD SHAW.*

 

George Bernard Shaw, 1925

 

       

The quotation was to be later “taken up” by Robert Kennedy in the 1968 Presidential campaign & is “now often credited to Bobby instead of Shaw.”

 

JFK said:

 

“This is an extraordinary country.  George Bernard Shaw, speaking as an Irishman, summed up an approach to life:

 

‘Other people see things, & say why.  But I dream things that never were, & I say, why not?'”**

 

*George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), born in Dublin was an author & playwright.  In 1912-13, he wrote PYGMALION which would later be the basis for the musical ‘My Fair Lady’.

 

**Bobby’s quotation was altered slightly:

 

“Some people see things as they are & say why.  I dream things that never were, & say, why not?”

JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE IX

July 22, 2012

“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE” IX

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report of Chapter 12 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 12 is “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye”

 

Kenneth O’Donnell continues to discuss JFK’s trip to Ireland in late June 1963.

 

At one point, President Kennedy obviously enjoying himself in Ireland, said that in 1968 he would support the Democratic candidate for President of the United States “who would promise to appoint him Ambassador to Ireland.”

 

From NEW ROSS, JFK & his party then traveled to CORK, “the hotbed of the Irish Revolution.”*

 

There at City Hall, the Lord Mayor, Alderman Sean Casey, conferred the FREEDOM OF THE CITY upon JFK.

 

JFK with Lord Mayor Sean Casey, Cork City Hall, June 28, 1963, Photo by Robert Knudsen, JFK Library Image

 

JFK took this opportunity to introduce his friend & assistant David Powers, who was sitting with seven 1st cousins, to the audience by saying:

 

“Dave looks more Irish than his cousins.”

 

JFK also introduced Monsignor Michael O’Mahoney, the pastor of his church in Florida.  The President said:

 

“He is the pastor of a poor, humble flock in PALM BEACH…”

 

After CORK, JFK attended a luncheon at the American Embassy in Dublin & a memorial service at ARBOUR HILL, where the executed leaders of the 1916 EASTER RISING are buried.

 

At this service, the cadets from IRELAND’S MILITARY COLLEGE at THE CURRAGH performed.

 

JFK felt this was “the outstanding highlight of his visit.”  He said:

 

“Those cadets were terrific.  I wish we had a film of that drill so that we could do something like it at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”**

 

 

 

*The Irish Rebellion of 1641 was the attempt by the Irish Catholic gentry to seize control of the government & force concessions in favor of Catholics under English rule.  

 

Cork became a stronghold for English protestants who sought refuge there after the revolt broke out.  

 

Since the 19th Century, Cork has been strongly in favor of Irish nationalism.

 

From the time of the POTATO FAMINE, Cork was the main port of emigrants from Ireland to the United States & other countries.

 

 

 

**JFK described the service to Jackie when he returned to the USA & she arranged to have the same group of Irish cadets take part at the President’s funeral service at Arlington.

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