February 24, 2012
JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: THE FIRST CONVERSATION II
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on the 1st conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy” published by Hyperion.
The 1st conversation was recorded on Monday, March 2, 1964.
Mr. Schlesinger asks Mrs. Kennedy if her husband’s back operation in 1955 was “a kind of a turning point” in his political career.
Jacqueline Kennedy responds:
“No, I don’t think there’s anything in that.”
She goes on to say that his dedication “was always there….then he started to write that book.”
Mrs. Kennedy continues….
“He talked to me…a year or so before (about) Edmund Ross being a classic example of profiles in courage.”*
In regard to the impact of her husband’s back problems on their life, Jacqueline Kennedy relates…
“I can remember him on crutches more than not (but) after he was introduced to Dr. (Janet) Travell…she put in this Novocain….life just changed then.”**
She goes on to confide to Mr. Schlesinger that the back operation JFK had was really unnecessary.
She says: “If it hadn’t been for Dr. Travell–I mean, no one can underestimate her contribution.”
Arthur Schlesinger asks if JFK “ever mentioned” the pain he suffered.
Mrs. Kennedy says:
“He never liked you to ask him how he felt….but he was never irritable.”
She confides that JFK’s back pain was “unpredictable” & says that she once asked him if he could have one wish, what would it be?
Mrs. Kennedy says that JFK ‘s answer was…“I wish I had had more good times.”
*Senator Edmund G. Ross, Republican of Kansas, was the last of 7 Republicans to go against party lines & cast a “not guilty” vote in the Impeachment Trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868.
By doing so, Ross & his fellow Republicans helped acquit the President. Ross lost his bid for re-election in 1870.
**Dr. Janet G. Travell graduated from Cornell University Medical College in 1926. She did research involving the concept of trigger points as a cause of muscular-skeletal pain.
In 1961, she became President Kennedy’s personal physician & recommended a rocking chair to help alleviate his back pain.
Dr. Travell also served as Associate Clinical Professor at George Washington University.