John F Kennedy – former president

This is John F Kennedy and these are his good things

What are some good things you read?

The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman was a favorite book and on studies Kennedy said “No country can possibly move ahead, no free society can possibly be sustained, unless it has an educated citizenry whose qualities of mind and heart permit it to take part in the complicated and increasingly sophisticated decisions that pour not only upon the President and upon the Congress, but upon all the citizens who exercise the ultimate power.”

Talleyrand by Duff Cooper

From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming is certainly not traditional poetry though Kennedy was probably speaking broadly when he said “”If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live”

What are some good things you watch?

Finding Kennedy’s favorite movies or television shows proved quite difficult but a trend emerged that his wife Jacqueline Kennedy usually arranged for their viewing of art in all its forms.  I found this description from the JFK Library to be entertaining and enlightening.

The all-American western ballet, “Billy the Kid,” was presented on a portable velvet-mounted stage in the East Room by the American Ballet Theater of New York, as the entertaining climax to the dinner in honor of the President of the Republic of the Ivory Coast and Madame Felix Houphouet-Boigny. And when the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg was entertained at the White House, Mrs. Kennedy added a special reading dedicated to President Kennedy to the program of Elizabethan poetry and music presented by actor Basil Rathbone and the Consort Players, a scholarly group of musicians who played sixteenth and seventeenth century instruments.

The special reading by Rathbone was “Henry V”‘s famed “St. Crispin’s Day Speech” spoken on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, and was added because President Kennedy was so fond of quoting those lines by Shakespeare himself.

The White House took on an opening-night-on-Broadway atmosphere at the dinner honoring the Shah and Empress of Iran. The entertainment was Jerome Robbins’ “Ballets: U.S.A.” which Mrs. Kennedy had seen both in Europe and New York and enjoyed so much. The company had been disbanded, and some of the fifteen original dancers were in other Broadway musicals, but were released from those shows for one night, for the performance at the White House. Electricians, carpenters, stage directors and stagehands had worked around the clock to prepare for this special show.

After the dinner honoring the Sudan’s English-speaking President Abboud, the players from the American Shakespeare Festival Theater of Stratford, Connecticut did the prologue from “Henry V,” the Macbeth murder scene, a love scene from “Troilus and Cressida,” “Seven Ages of Man” from “As You Like It,” and Prospero’s speech from “The Tempest.” It was a full evening of Shakespearean drama, and among the guests, attending their first state dinner, were the two teenaged daughters of Vice President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson.

When Lynda Bird and Luci Johnson first received their invitations, they thought a mistake had been made, and telephoned Mrs. Kennedy to ask if she realized they were only seventeen and fourteen. She said she did, and wanted them to come and enjoy the Shakespeare players.

Mrs. Johnson’s advice to her daughters before going was “Don’t drink any of the wines at the White House.

What are some good things you use?

Kennedy enjoyed his White House meals but often has to be reminded to eat.  When he did eat it was often soup, sandwich, and fruit for lunch and he was very fond of the corn muffins at the White House.

The Honey Fitz.  The 92′ presidential yacht was where Kennedy had some of his happiest moments.  Jacqueline installed the first every color television on the yacht for the children, who Kennedy loved sailing with.  The drink of choice was the Bullshot – a Bloody Mary derivative that substitutes beef bouillon for tomato juice.

In addition to sailing Kennedy enjoyed tennis and golf.  He played with MacGregor and Wilson woods and Ben Hogan Irons and once cancelled a lesson saying, “something came up.”


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