March 27, 2012
JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION VII
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.
The sixth conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.
Arthur Schlesinger asks Jacqueline Kennedy about what she remembers during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“I could tell from his voice something was wrong. (He asked) ‘why don’t you just come back to Washington?’
(I) woke the children up from their naps & we got back there. From then on, it seemed there was no waking or sleeping, & I just don’t know which day was which.
But….Jack….told me right away & some people had said for their wives to go away, but I said ‘Please don’t send me anywhere. If anything happens, we’re all going to stay right here with you.'”
Mrs. Kennedy goes on to tell Schlesinger that she had told her husband even if there was no room for them in the bomb shelter she would ‘”just want to be on the (White House) lawn when it happens….”
Mr. Schlesinger asks “What was his mood when he told you?”
“I can remember one night Jack was lying on his bed & I came in my nightgown. I thought he was talking on the phone (but he waved me away)…because (McGeorge) Bundy was in the room.”*
Schlesinger asks “Did the President comment….on the question of whether there should be a raid to knock the (nuclear missile) bases out or blockade or what?”
Mrs. Kennedy replies:
“He really wasn’t sort of asking me. But then I remember he did tell me about this crazy telegram that came through from Khrushchev one night. Very warlike. I remember Jack being really upset about that.”
Arthur Schlesinger asks if JFK showed fatigue from the ordeal.
Mrs. Kennedy answers yes but that she didn’t worry about that because he had driven himself all his life & that she knew her husband had the hidden reserve to get through it.
“And finally, when it was over….he thought of giving that calendar to everyone. I was so surprised when I got one….that I burst out crying.”**
*McGeorge Bundy was JFK’s National Security adviser.
**JFK presented a silver Tiffany calender for October 1962 with the fateful 13 days highlighted in bold to the members of EXCOMM.
Each calender was engraved with “JFK” & the recipient’s initials.