JF Ptak Science Books Post 1229
[JFK Election/Inauguration rarities may be purchased through our blog bookstore.]
Some years ago I purchased a small archive of documents relating to the public appearances of Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of President John Kennedy. The material is all pre-inaugural, almost all 1960, and loaded with interesting unpublished nuggets. One such bit is this telegram sent by the Kennedy camp to Mrs. Kennedy's first (?) social/press secretary (who did not follow the Kennedys to the white House), Gladys Uhl, the content of which was to be reorganized and matured by Mrs. Uhl for public distribution. The subject here was Mrs. Kennedy's coming fashion sense, in general, and of her inaugural gown, in particular.
And what is interesting here is that "when Jacqueline Kennedy moves into the White House she will wear only American clothes and she is looking forward to it". A fine sentiment; a bolder one too for today if Mrs. Obama decides to follow suit. It will be much more difficult though for that to happen in 2009 than it would have been in 1961: this is an age when even some of the most classic "\American" brands of clothing have been moved offshore, made for the USA in China (or Indonesia, or Pakistan, or Vietnam, or wherever the work can be delivered cheaper. Mrs. Obama has said something about wearing simple clothing, as from a store (chain) like J. Crew--it would be nicer if she were to decide to go with another New York-based clothing store whose goods weren't made in China, though. I could cozy up to that. I could also cozy up to the "American Owned" supermarket that I bounce into every other day if that had more American-made products. I can understand off season veggies and such, but does good-old Motts Apple Juice really need to be made from apple concentrate imported from China (for crying out loud?)? I remember on 9/13/01 that the Giant Foods supermarket in my neighborhood in Cleveland Park, D.C., started selling American flags--all made in China. This was just so entirely wrong that a protest was waged, the flags were removed, and then replaced days later with flags made in the USA. But it is difficult to find American-made clothing in stores--even a so-called "iconic" Appalachian "general store" and landmark in Asheville, a store that wraps itself in folkiness and homespun regional taste, has, I would say, less than 5% American-made goods.
But I digress. I really just wanted to talk about Jackie Kennedy and her inaugural gown and her interest in 'buying American". In another piece from this modest archive, Jackie sends back her response to Mrs. Uhl's questions, and one in particular about color. Seems as though Lyndon Johnson's wife, Lady Bird, was going to go shopping at Nieman Marcus for her inaugural gown and wanted to know what color Mrs. Kennedy was going to wear so that she could avoid buying that same color. Jackie responds at the bottom: "My Inaug gown will be White--so I'm sure that anything Mrs. Johnson picks will go with it".
There are other interesting items in this collection that I'll get to soon--several of which are Mrs. Kennedy's copies of some scripts for television commercials for her husbands campaign. They're actually pretty interesting, and a nice insight into the packing of the President in 1960.