In 1988, I was invited by a friend to attend a Democratic fundraising reception for a congressional candidate, running in Northern Virginia. The reception was to be held at the home of Ethel Kennedy in McLean, VA. I was eager to attend, although skeptical that the reception would actually be held in Mrs. Kennedy’s home. I felt certain it would be held in the back yard, or in a special tent on grounds that were meticulously groomed for the event.
To my surprise, the event was held in her home and the hundreds of people who attended apparently were free to roam about the first floor without restriction. I found this to be totally amazing. Here was a home, that by any measure, contained artifacts which future generations would clamor to see.
History and Pop Culture on Display
Every room contained personal photos of Bobby Kennedy, Jack Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, and the entire clan, as well as awards, citations, and personal mementos. Guests could have pocketed their choice of mementos at any time. Apparently none did — at any time. More astounding, Mrs. Kennedy seemed completely unconcerned about the possibility.
As I strode about the grounds, I made my way to the pool house. Between a couch and a chair, on a phone stand, along with the phone, was a roster of phone numbers typed and inserted in a plastic sleeve. I looked at the list. Ted Kennedy’s congressional phone number and his private number in Hyannis were listed. Jackie Kennedy’s personal phone number in New York was listed.
Other family members’, celebrities’, and luminaries’ personal phone numbers were listed. The paparazzi or any reporter could have cashed in simply by copying the numbers on the list and selling them to the tabloids.
This backyard, this yard, this house, on a typical street in McLean, VA had no fences, no guard dogs, none of what I would have expected the widow of a historical figure — a millionairess — to have.
A Public Person
Ethel Kennedy was, you see, a public person, circa 1988. I thought about all the time and energy that I, and most of the people I know, spend to safeguard our privacy, to ensure no one is looking over our shoulder when we’re doing something as simple as reading a newspaper on an airplane.
It seemed inconceivable that someone such as Ethel Kennedy could be so open and people-oriented, and not need the barriers and protectors that most of us believe we need.
As that night’s affair ended, I marveled when Ethel Kennedy stood at the door and bade all guests a fond farewell. She shook my hand and thanked me for coming as if I had been one of the Democratic Party’s most staunch supporters and honored guests in her home.
At the Center
I was not a Democrat and never seek to be one, but this I know: by today’s standards JFK would be considered a conservative, or short of that, certainly someone ‘unworthy’ of the Democrat nomination. RFK likely would be in the same category.
Sure, many of their views and policies would appear to be left of center or at the center, but perhaps no more so than John McCain or George W. Bush. In any case, the Kennedys would be preferable compared to the tyrannical Leftist monsters currently in power and now trying to destroy America.