My daughter lent me her 8 cd set of the recent tapes released from Jacqueline Kennedy’s 1964 interviews with Arthur Schlesinger: Jacqueline Kennedy; Historic Conversations on Life with JFK. I listened to them on a long road trip to southern California recently and was pleasantly surprised at how interesting they were.
I mean, she consented to and started the process of being interviewd just 3 months after JFK was assasinated. You can hear the ice clinking in her drink during some of the summer interviews, her puffing on and/or exhaling from cigarettes, a very young John-John interrupting a few times and throughout – this kitten voice of hers. Was that, like, the 60’s female voice of choice?
Here are 4 things I took away from all those CDs that I’d like to share with you.
1. Everyone should have an “away from care place.”
She said Jack’s (President Kennedy’s) was on his boat. He loved being out on a boat, she said, because there was fresh air, water and no phones. Can you even imagine a president today being anywhere away from phones? There were no cell phones in the 1960’s, remember.
Jacqueline said her “away from care place” was when she was riding horses. This is my daughter in Los Angeles riding last month. I know from the smile that was on her face the whole time she was far, far away from care.
Can you define or pinpoint where your “away from care place” would be if asked? Because, seriously? I’m asking.
2. The value of learning another language. Jacqueline spoke French. She said she wanted to be sure her children learned a 2nd language and I loved her reason why:
“Knowing another language,” she said, “doubled my life.” What a nice way to look at it. What a great motivation to learn one.
3. Always leave a way open for reconciliation. This is the explanation President Kennedy gave her when she asked how he could be civil to some of the people he had to deal with. You never know, he said, when you’ll need this week’s enemies to be next week’s friends.
This is good advice within families when there’s conflict. Don’t ever shut the door completely on a relationship. There should always be a way, even if just a glimmer of promise, for reconciliation.
4. This last one I just liked because I like Thomas Jefferson so much.
I’ve visited Monticello (Jefferson’s home in Virginia) and was so impressed with Jefferson’s inventive mind and beautiful gardens. So I honed in on Jacqueline sharing that President Kennedy really wanted a letter Jefferson had written requesting 4 more gardeners who were also violin players so that he could have chamber music every evening (Help Wanted: gardener/violin player). You know, I’d like to run an ad that reads, “Help Wanted: 4 Housecleaners/chamber musicians – to clean my home and play me to sleep at night – preferably out in the garden.” But, I digress. That’s not likely to happen. So – getting back to this letter Jacqueline wanted for Jack. Unfortunately it had an asking price of 6 thousand dollars, so she passed on it for his Christmas present. It was his last Christmas.
If you haven’t heard these tapes – I think they’re worth your time – especially, like, for a road trip. It’s a peek into a time gone-by and a woman who remained an enigma for the rest of her life. They can be purchased in a boxed set with the book at this link.