Posts Tagged First Ladies

Episode 101: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Part One

Posted 9 February 2018 by
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Only the most iconic of women can simply go by one name, and Jackie is one of them. Her life was a complicated collage of privilege, challenge, balance and reinvention. In this episode, we talk about the first half of that life from baby of affluence born exactly when the wealth of the US crashed, to just before she headed off on a trip with her husband to Texas in 1963.

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born on July 28, 1929 to John and Janet Bouvier. If you head over to the JFK Library and Museum website you can watch the silent film of the Bouvier’s wedding! Her parents “struggled” through the depression with very little money of their own but they lived in a Park Avenue  duplex and summered in the Hamptons.

Make sure you put the back of your hand to your forehead before you swoon on the fainting couch.

Jacqueline Bouvier, 1935. David Berne, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

It wasn’t all champagne wishes and caviar dreams-Jackie and her little sister, Lee, became children of divorce (and a bitter divorce at that) when Jackie was 11. Her father was the wild Let’s Have Fun parent and her mom was the, you know…ACTUAL PARENT. Mom taught her things like competitive horseback riding and manners; dad taught her things like how men are out for one thing only and to play stupid. *sigh* Jackie’s mother re-married fairly quickly to Hugh Auchincloss…of the Standard Oil Auchinclosses? Mom married up into a much bigger tax bracket and the gang moved to a huge spread in Virginia and summered at a little cottage in Newport, RI.


The cottage. Hammersmith Farm, wikicommons

Jackie followed a pretty traditional, wealthy kid path: High school at Miss Porter’s in Connecticut, college first at Vassar, then the Sorbonne via Smith College (like one does) and finished up with a degree in French Literature from George Washington University. She made her debut, too, not only coming out in Newport and New York society but being named “Deb of the Year” by a Hearst Newspapers society columnist. Let’s just say she has a LOT going for her- she’s fluent in French, picks up other languages very easily, is very, very well read, well traveled, she has a very quick wit, is quite a flirt, hangs in elite circles and, did we mention? She’s beautiful.

After college, Jackie won a very prestigious gig with Vogue magazine…and quit on her first day.

Oh, we talk about that. A lot. Jackie headed back to Washington and took a job as a secretary with the Washington Times and quickly worked up to a journalist position as Inquiring Photographer with her own column.

Jackie went through her training fiance, John Husted, Jr- but called that engagement off within a year. He wasn’t the guy for her, but she was dating this John Kennedy fellow. A handsome Senator from Massachusetts, he was a war hero and came from a large, loud, competitive, very wealthy family. Jack liked Jackie, but Jack liked A LOT of women.

The two dated and Jack’s father, Joe (who often got exactly what he wanted) thought Jackie was the perfect wife for his up-and-coming politician of a son. But Jack didn’t want to get married.

Until he did. 26 year-old Jack and 24 year-old Jackie were married in Newport. Library of Congress

In the next five years the couple would look, from the outside, like they had it all but Jack never slowed down his womanizing and Jackie had a miscarriage and a stillbirth with very little support from him. In other marriages in other families with other careers this marriage would have ended- but it didn’t.

The more you know-Aga stove (note the cement base–The House of Wood would need a little work for this.)

When Jackie was 28 she gave birth to a healthy daughter, Caroline, and three years later a son, John, Jr was born. Three years later the family was also about to move–into the White House.

August 1962 President Kennedy and family, Hyannis Port.
Cecil Stoughton, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Once Jackie became First Lady she set off almost immediately to define her role, and her cause: preserving the history of the White House. She began a renovation project on the old mansion with a goal to bring the history of the White House back to it.

80 MILLION people watched her tour of the White House when it aired, re-aired and was distributed world wide. If you still can’t add yourself to the un-factorable numbers who have watched since, you should fix that.

Jackie also proved to be a valuable political asset. She charmed heads of state, set fashions and ideals for women around the world, and brought a very cultured, youthful, and glamorous image to the presidency and to the country. Men loved to look and talk to her; women wanted to be like her.

Our world’s collided when Jackie met this Recappery subject in 1961. Queen Elizabeth hosts the Kennedys.  John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

There were some dark corners in the Kennedy lives- Jack and his women and Jackie gave birth to a third child, Patrick, but he died only two days afterward due to a lung condition.

As Jackie was recuperating from that heartbreak, Jack asked her to go with him on a trip to help gather support for his re-election. Jackie agreed and made plans to accompany her husband to Texas in November of 1963.

Image result for Year of yes

This is the book Beckett was talking about.


Beckett has put together quite the Jackie Pinterest board!

All of our other media recommendations will be on the shownotes for Part Two.

Episode 70: Mary Todd Lincoln Part Two

Posted 11 June 2016 by
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In our last episode we talked about Mary’s childhood, education and life as the wife of Abraham Lincoln. She was described as, “amiable, accomplished, gracious and a sparkling talker,” by members of the Republican Party before she got to Washington…so what happened afterward that left her without this glowing impression?

Frida Kahlo may have approved of the fluffy dresses and floral head bling.

Frida Kahlo may have approved of the fluffy dresses and floral head bling.



Episode 69: Mary Todd Lincoln, Part One

Posted 4 June 2016 by
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Mary Todd Lincoln’s life can’t be defined by who she married and her husband’s legacy–she was a lot more than simply a southern born wife of a president. Actually, she wasn’t simple at all.


Mary circa 1847 (wikicommons)


Shownotes Episode 5: Dolley Payne Madison

Posted 24 March 2011 by
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Get out your best china and polish that silver! Don a feathered turban, and settle in for a chat about a woman who was not only one of the greatest hostesses in the history of party throwing,  but  a woman who was an extraordinary networker, before networking was cool. Not just another first lady…the first, First Lady.

In this episode we shine the spotlight on a woman who lived in one, Dolley Payne Todd Madison.

Dolley after shedding her Quaker garb

Dolley Payne was not born of high society, but into a simple Quaker family in North Carolina in 1768. Dolley- her given name- true!- was the third of eight children born to John and Mary Payne. The family moved when Dolley was young, first to Virginia and then to Philadelphia.

This tall, dark haired, blue eyed beauty married a Quaker lawyer, John Todd when she was 21. The couple had two sons. Tragically, John and the youngest son ( who was only 3 months at the time) died of yellow fever when Dolley is 25. This event unleashes the rest of her life that plays out like a classy, well mannered, dynamic  soap opera!

<em> <strong>(Click here for more fabulous shownotes!)</strong> </em>!