JUNE 18, 2012
THE WHITE HOUSE I
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we begin our report of Chapter 10 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 10 is THE WHITE HOUSE.
Kenneth O’Donnell writes in the 1st paragraph of this chapter:
“The Kennedy Inauguration took place on a Friday.”
It just now occurred to me after all these years that the term of the 35th President of the United States began and ended around Noon on a Friday.
I need to do some research to find out if any other President’s terms began & ended on the same days of the week. Interesting.
JFK, Kenny writes, could well have waited to begin “work” on Monday, but he was so “eager to get into his official duties” that the office staff were ordered to report to their desks at 9 a.m. on Saturday, January 21.
The Oval Office was bare & painted in “a rather nauseous shade of green.”
One of JFK’s 1st Presidential decisions was to order the walls of his office painted a “cheerful off-white.”
The next week would see the Kennedy Oval Office take the form that we all would recognize complete with JFK’s PT109 coconut shell display & the plaque with the fisherman’s prayer: “O, God, Thy sea is great, & my boat is so small.”
Jackie found the “magnificent” Resolute Desk in the White House basement & had it brought up to the Oval Office. The desk, a gift to President Hayes from Queen Victoria in 1878, had been used by FDR for his Fireside Chats.*
JFK’s first visitor was former President Harry S Truman. It was his first visit back since he left the Presidency in January 1953.
Later the White House staff members were sworn in. Among them was “a key member of the White House staff”….RALPH DUNGAN.**
*The beautiful Resolute Desk was brought back to the Oval Office by Jimmy Carter in 1977 & stayed during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush & Barack Obama.
**Ralph Dungan was the man who answered most of my many letters to JFK. What I wanted desperately was an authentic signature of JFK…not one of the cards which read on the back “This is a facsimile reproduction.”
After our visit to D.C. in the summer of 1962 & my failure to get a “glimpse” of the President, I returned home & sat down & wrote a long, long letter to Mr. Dungan.
I expressed my great support (one more time) for JFK & told him of my great disappointment of not getting to see him. I asked Mr. Dungan to pass along my letter to the President & have him sign it.
In September, I received a letter from Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln, the President’s personal secretary. She said that the President had read my letter which “Mr. Dungan made available to him.”
She wrote that the President was appreciative of “my fine support” & rather than sign my letter he thought I might like to have “the enclosed White House card which he was happy to autograph for you.”
You guessed it, I still have the letter & card safely tucked away. It is my “prized possession”….a personal link to my hero!