March 8, 2012
JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: THE FOURTH CONVERSATION IV
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on the fourth conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” by Hyperion.
The fourth conversation was recorded on March 23, 1964.
Arthur Schlesinger asks Mrs. Kennedy:
“When did you begin to think about restoring the White House?”
Jacqueline Kennedy answers…
“I think once Jack was elected. I just know that it had to be done. I had them send me a lot of books from the Library of Congress.”
Mrs. Kennedy agreed to meet Mrs. Eisenhower for a White House tour, but it was on the same day she was released from the hospital after delivering John Jr.
“I didn’t want to go (but) like a fool, I said I’d go. I wish I hadn’t. You were just dragged around every floor & not even asked to sit down. So that wasn’t very nice of Mrs. Eisenhower.”
Mrs. Kennedy continues…
“She was very funny….always referred to (the White House) as ‘my house.'”*
*Mamie Doud Eisenhower (1896-1979) was born in Boone, Iowa, the daughter of a meat-packing executive. She grew up in Cedar Rapids, Colorado Springs & Denver.
Her birthplace was dedicated as a National Historic Site in 1980 making her only the 2nd 1st Lady to be so honored (the other was Abigail Adams).
Mr. Schlesinger wants to know what JFK thought about President Eisenhower.
“Well, not much. Oh, another thing we thought was really funny. In the door sill, we thought there were termites. They were just riddled with little holes.
It was the cleats from (Ike’s) golf shoes. I guess he must have just walked all around the White House in them.”
JFK was very respectful of President Eisenhower & asked his own staff to avoid making critical remarks about the outgoing administration. JFK made a point to call or visit Ike, after he took office, to report on foreign policy matters and/or to get his advice.
“How did (JFK) feel about the restoration of the White House.”
“(Jack) was interested…..but….nervous about it. He wanted to be sure it was done….right.
(He really got interested) when I found him that desk.”**
**The desk. made from timbers of the HMS Resolute, had been a gift to the President of the United States from Queen Victoria of Great Britain.
“And, oh, the White House television tour–he used to watch it all the time. It was so sweet, the way he was proud of me.”****
***Mrs. Kennedy’s 1962 telecast was the 2nd televised White House tour. The 1st had been conducted by President Harry Truman.
Arthur Schlesinger asks if Mrs. Kennedy was ever criticized for the things she did as First Lady.
“Never. No, the most incredible interest. So (Jack) was just so proud. I was so happy that I….could do something that made him proud of me because….Jack never made me feel that I was a liability to him, but I was.”