A Little Advice from Jackie

By Rusty Thomas

July 30, 2015: Three months before the 1992 Convention at Madison Square Garden, I had yet come up with a decor theme and I was getting very nervous about it. I had been sent pictures of the years past via the DNC Finance Committee, and all I could see were red/white/blue ribbons and colored carnations.

My role at the Convention and all of the DNC's official events were covered in the papers and one day while I was having lunch at the Park Avenue Cafe, Jackie walked in and saw me sitting with 3 friends at a 4-top. My back was to her but she walked over and as my friend's eyes got wider and wider I turned around and stood up to greet her. She was so excited that I had landed the Convention and right away asked what I was going to do.

I had to admit to her that I had nothing concrete even at that late date because I was so confused with all of the red/white/blue, what I had seen from the DNC what with all the ribbons and carnations, and what to do because it was a chaotic color scheme to me that I couldn't produce as elegant. Immediately, and I mean lighting-fast, she looked me in the eye and said, "Do what the French would do for a national event like this....."use red/white/gold, and blue/white/gold color combinations and let the US flag do the rest".

I had a French artist paint hundreds of cache-pots that I filled with native flowering New York State plants as I was so into the environment even then. I presented this set to Hillary at the Convention. I owe JBKO much for just walking into the Cafe that day. She saved me.

Image copyright Rusty Thomas.

White House Children's Art Room

July 26, 2015 Notes: Most Kennedy historians are aware that Jackie created a private school (kindergarten) on the third floor of the White House for Caroline and a select group of children (seven girls and four boys) from the Kennedy's inner circle.. From a May 1963 film by Cecil Stoughton, it appears as if "The Music Room" down the hall also served as an "art room" annex to the main classroom in the Solarium. The third floor hallway was also used for the children's performances and the "ramp" hallway leading into the Solarium often displayed the children's artwork.

Source: JFK Library, May 1963 film by Cecil Stoughton. Image edited by Steven L. Brawley. 

That Night I Saw Jackie

jackie at kennedy ctr

By Brandon Wolf

July 8, 2015: I've only seen Jackie once in my life, but it was an exciting experience. In June of 1972, I was living in the DC area, working as a public relations officer at a community college. 

The local papers announced that Jackie would be visiting the Kennedy Center for the first time on June 5, 1972. She didn't attend the opening the year before, Leonard Bernstein returned and performed the work he wrote for the opening, "Mass". 

At the time, I was disappointed with the pictures, but with the passage of the years, they now seem fun. They certainly capture the pandemonium that is resident when Jackie makes a appearance like this.

I was lucky to be in the press section by accident. I had arrived early, and was wearing a corduroy blazer and had at least two cameras around my neck. I just sort of looked like a press photographer and no one asked.

We were positioned up on an 'island' - Jackie passed by us three times - first, coming down the hall - then she turned and went up the steps, and turned again and passed us on the other side - and finally, for some reason, the velvet ropes maneuvered her back past us once again as she made her way up to the Presidential Box. 

At the time, I rarely used a flash, but brought one. The first picture fired off fine. Then I noticed it was taking a long time to recycle, so I quickly opened the shutter wide and reduced the shutter speed. As soon as the flash was activated again, I'd push the settings back the opposite way. In the process, I got a crazy collection of photos. 

The next day was an RFK Memorial Mass which she attended at Arlington. I've included the local media coverage of her visit. The tabloid is humorous - she 'drove a priest to sin', by taking communion.

My memory of her is that she was truly ethereal. I was surprised how tiny she was - both short and thin. She had a radiant smile.

And honestly, she seemed to just float. I'm glad I saw her in person once - she projects even more charisma in person than she possibly could ever do so in a photograph. And yes, it was like looking at history walking by me.

Image copyright Brandon Wolf.

Blue Room Flowers 1962

June 11, 2015 Notes: White House Blue Room floral arrangement from March 22, 1962 by Rusty Young. Until the administration of John F. Kennedy, floral arrangements at the White House had been extremely formal in style. Guided by advice from her horticulturalist friend Rachel Lambert Mellon, Jackie Kennedy began to use looser and more relaxed arrangements, many based upon 16th-century Flemish floral and fruit still lifes. China dishes from previous administrations were used as vases, including two 18th-century dessert coolers used by the Madisons. The White House collection of vermeil tableware, previously only on display in the Vermeil Room, was also used for arrangements. The position of Chief Floral Designer was established, and Rusty Young was the first to occupy the position, continuing to work into the Johnson and Nixon administrations. 

Image copyright Jake Gariepy (Dapper and Dreamy)

Copyright Steven L. Brawley, 2002-2015. All Rights Reserved.