Jackie Kennedy’s ‘particular brand of silence’

In a finely reported piece for Esquire Chris Jones recreates the scene on Air Force One on the afternoon of November 22, 1963.

Here’s the meeting of the two First Ladies:

“I don’t know what to say,” Lady Bird says. “What wounds me most of all is that this should happen in my beloved state of Texas.”

“To this, Jackie says nothing. She sits in her very particular brand of silence, her pink outfit stained with gore, flecked with fragments of her husband’s skull and brain. One of her stockings is almost completely lacquered in blood. Her right glove, white that morning, is caked and stiff with it. Her left glove is missing. Lady Bird asks her if she can get someone to help her change.

“No,” Jackie says. “Perhaps later I’ll ask Mary Gallagher, but not right now. I want them to see what they have done to Jack.”
Read more: John F. Kennedy Assassination Flight – What Happened on the Flight from Dallas – Esquire

29 comments

  1. JSA says:

    Let it be on the record that Clint Hill saw the following, engraved into his brain, which he would never forget that day in Dallas:

    “I jumped onto the left-rear step of the presidential automobile,” Hill later remembers. “Mrs. Kennedy shouted, ‘They’ve shot his head off,’ then turned and raised out of her seat as if she were reaching to her right rear toward the back of the car for something that had blown out. I forced her back into her seat and placed my body above the president and Mrs. Kennedy… . As I lay over the top of the backseat, I noticed a portion of the president’s head on the right-rear side was missing and he was bleeding profusely. Part of his brain was gone. I saw a part of his skull with hair on it lying in the seat.”

    I’d like to see the lone nutter response to this quote. I’m sure they’ll find some way to try to discredit Clint Hill, or say he couldn’t have seen what he said he saw, or some other bulls-.
    But the fact is, he saw what he saw, said it out loud, and it flies right in the face of what Arlen Specter and the Warren Commission wanted said.

    • Photon says:

      3-9-1964. Testimony before the Warren Commission:
      Mr. Specter:” Now,do you now or have you ever had the impression or reaction that there was a shot which originated from the front of the Presidential car?”
      Mr. Hill: “No.”
      QED.

      • JSA says:

        Yeah, Hill knew who was paying him all right. But he said what he said about seeing the back of JFK’s head blown out, and he couldn’t put that genie back into the bottle.

        I score that as a political victory for the conspirators, but his earlier statement is what he really saw, before OJ’s lawyers twisted the facts around for the Commission Report.

        • Photon says:

          Even today when the average individuals are shown the autopsy photos they often describe the head wound as being at the back of the head. We have discussed this before. If all of the Parkland doctors agreed that the autopsy photos conformed with what they saw, what difference does it make how they initially described the wounds? The Gestalt of seeing a supine person is to identify superior head lesions as being more posterior than they really are.
          The bottom line is that no matter how you want to twist it, Mr. Hill has always supported the Warren conclusions. Did Specter talk him into those beliefs? I kinda doubt it.

  2. Hans Trayne says:

    As I recall from my youth, it was explained to me that unless a person in born into great wealth (Kennedys) they are peons(POS). They face a life of continuous struggle to rise above peon status. By the time they actually acquire anything of material worth it’s time to die & leave it all behind.

    JFK & Jackie was a rare mix of fortunate wealthy mixing with peons. According to both Federal investigations John Kennedy (fortunate one, worth around 100 million at the time) was removed by a peon (Lee Harvey Oswald). The peon was also removed by another peon (Jack Ruby).

    One cannot expect those of great wealth to respond to trauma like peons.

    • Photon says:

      Obviously you have never been to their Palm Beach house that despite the wealth was furnished with cheap furniture and kitschy art and decorations. At least one of the third generation acted as much as a peon as anybody else that I have met.

      • JSA says:

        Well, I’d be the first to tell you that Joe Kennedy didn’t have the best taste. I liked what Jacqueline did for the White House though.

  3. Thomas says:

    Can’t get more awkward or insensitive than for Lady Bird to say that what “wounds me most of all” is that it happened in Texas. People can sure be egocentric at the weirdest times.

  4. Curt says:

    JSA, that’ right about Clint Hill. Although he supports the WC, his comments on the head wound support a grassy knoll gunman. Consistent with what Dr. McClelland said Dallas doctors WC testimony, right rear wound, and seeing cerebellum. Tom Robinson, the mortician, testified he had to patch up the rear of JFK’s head. Don’t forget Ken O’Donnell and Dave Powers who both said they heard a shot from the knoll. Powers admitted to Tip O’Neill (in O’Neill’s book) that the FBI pressured him to say the fatal shot came from behind, when in fact he thought it came from the knoll. Powers later regretted not standing by what he really heard as documented in Talbot’s book Brothers.

    • Photon says:

      Tom Robinson never “patched up the rear of JFK’s head”. He was the embalmer, not the restorer.
      That fact is right out of the ARRB report, where it is specifically stated in capital letters that he had nothing to do with the head restoration.
      If you can’t get something as elementary as that correct, why should any credence be given to anything in your statement?

    • JSA says:

      I agree with you, Curt. Arlen Specter did his trial lawyerly best to bend the facts to fit the lone gunman scenario, and the Warren Commission didn’t even interview many of the witnesses, including Admiral Burkeley. People who apologize for the Warren Commission’s politically-motivated report are like the kind of people who look at the O.J. Simpson trial and say:
      “SEE?? He didn’t do the crime because the glove didn’t fit! Case Closed.”

  5. One hardly knows how to respond to the reports of Johnson at this moment by others. It seems monstrously insensitive at the very least. He didn’t need to stay in Dallas, He didn’t need to wait for a Judge. He didn’t need to have Jackie stand by his side and he certainly didn’t need to call Robert Kennedy and ask for the “wording” of the oath.Finally,he didn’t need to tell the whopper of a lie – after RFK was dead – that RFK asked him to appoint Dulles to the Warren Commission.
    The Jackie captured by Warhol on this site recently is haunting. It captures her majesty, her grief, her beauty and her youth. Imagine, she was not even 35 years old. Look around and compare with other 35 year olds. That weekend, that awful and sad weekend, she was magnificent.

    • Jean Davison says:

      Are you sure it’s a “whopper” that RFK recommended Dulles for the WC?

      The HSCA quotes a memo from Walter Jenkins to LBJ saying:
      “Abe [Fortas] has talked with Katzenbach and Katzenbach has talked with the Attorney General. They recommend a seven man commission — two Senators, 2 Congressmen, the Chief Justice, Allen Dulles….”

      See paragraph 11 here:

      http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?mode=searchResult&absPageId=39612

      • I could only say that the info is coming from Fortas and Jenkins,two LBJ cronies. At that time, RFK was in deep grief and Katzenbach whose own now famous memo followed the FBI’s version of events is hardly one to rely on. The idea that RFK would want Allen Dulles to head the commission studying his brothers death is lunacy and, as I believe, RFK himself denied that assertion in an oral biography.

        • Jean Davison says:

          When you have to assume more and more people(Fortas, Jenkins) are lying in order to justify a theory, maybe it’s time to re-examine the theory.

          During an LBJ phone call to Dulles during a different crisis (6/23/64), RFK came on the line to urge Dulles to help investigate the disappearance of 3 civil rights workers in Mississippi (the call is mentioned here):

          http://millercenter.org/presidentialclassroom/exhibits/mississippi-burning

          According to a published transcript, RFK told Dulles, “… you’d go down [to MS] and report on what the facts are and make suggestions [....]
          you know, we’ve worked together for a long time, so I know what you could do and I know you’d do this well. And I know you *could* do it, Allen.”

          Two months after he fired Dulles, JFK pinned a medal on Dulles’ chest and praised him highly:

          http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHP-KN-C19555.aspx

          http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8461

          • Fortas left the Court in disgrace and Jenkins left Washington in disgrace, so it is not unjustified to question their comments on anything. It wouldn’t be a “lie” if they fudged RFK approval, it would just be par for their course – to give LBJ whatever he wanted.
            Also, the image of the Kennedys in a lovefest with Allen Dulles doesn’t quite cut it.Giving a medal to the guy who was the director for 9 years and planned the new building doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.
            At his death, the widow Dulles received a letter from Prescott Bush saying that he “never forgave the Kennedy’s” for what “was done” to Allen. Strange comment less than a year after one of them had his head exploded with a bullet. Saying such to the widow, at such a time, seems a reflection of what she would want to hear.
            Dulles was also quoted as saying that JFK “thought he was a little god.” Of course, Dulles also tried to get Harry Truman to withdraw the op-ed he wrote critical of the CIA on December 22, 1963. I think the Kennedys knew that they couldn’t trust Dulles to tell them the time of day.

          • Jean Davison says:

            Robert, I understand that *you* don’t trust Dulles, but what evidence do you have that the Kennedys didn’t trust Dulles? What evidence do you have that Fortas and Jenkins “fudged” RFK’s approval?

            Did you read what JFK said about Dulles?

            http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8461

            Kennedy not only praised him but referred to him as a friend.

          • leslie sharp says:

            An author of crime thrillers would know precisely who would be the most suspect in the aftermath of an assassination when the lone nut theory did not hold up under scrutiny. They would look to the highest echelon in the dynamic – in the case of Kennedy’s assassination, they would look to Dulles, Hoover and LBJ, and how those characters could distract from or contribute to solving the crime, up to and including the relationships they shared with the deceased and his or her family.

            A magician would know how to manipulate all of those aspects toward a certain end.

  6. Lucyinthesky says:

    JSA: What I find interesting when watching the Zapruder film is that Jackie does not appear to be “forced” back into her seat by Hill, but rather turns back just as he reaches her. I do think she appears to be reaching for something on the back of the car (though it’s difficult to tell), and she reportedly handed a piece of JFK’s brain to a doctor at Parkland.

    Thomas: Agreed, though in interviews with William Manchester for “Death of a President,” Lady Bird said she immediately regretted the statement and knew it was the wrong thing to say. I think she had compassion for Jackie and was not as self-centered as she may have come across at that moment.

    • JSA says:

      Lady Bird was a nice lady, whatever you want to say about her corrupt t.v. station holdings and her unwavering support for her husband, Rufus Cornpone. I doubt she was trying to be malicious to Mrs. Kennedy. I think she was as shocked as the Kennedy people over what had happened.

      • Photon says:

        I agree 100% on this, JSA. She put up with a lot being married to LBJ- imagine seeing your husband’s girl friend on TV every night and playing the First Lady role like nothing was happening. What was worse was that everybody in Washington society knew the score.

        • JSA says:

          I could tell you funny stories about LBJ from old friends of mine (now deceased) who flew with him on AFOne. He was a bourbon drinker, and a very MEAN drunk. His wife put up with a LOT. Lyndon was a real piece of work. And I think he knew about the assassination, more than he let on.

          • Photon says:

            Actually he was more of a Fresca drinker during the Presidency than a whiskey drinker. At least while in the White House he moderated his intake of food, drink and of course tobacco. As a result he was the healthiest that he was his entire life, even having an uneventful gall bladder surgery. The only potentially harmful personal habit he kept during that period was fooling around- and he was not a reckless field player with one night stands.

          • JSA says:

            My State Dept. friend said it was bourbon. Others say scotch and soda. I’m sure he had both. But he drank a lot more than Fresca. The main cocktail Johnson mixed was a scotch and soda, specifically Cutty Shark. President Johnson used to drive around his ranch with the secret service mixing him drinks in the car behind him. The routine was done so often that Johnson didn’t even have to stop the car to hand off his empty glass and then receive a new cocktail.

          • Photon says:

            I believe that your source is in error,JSA . LBJ took the responsibilities of the office very highly and moderated his lifestyle accordingly. The proof of that is after he left office, let his hair down(literally) and resumed bad habits he deteriorated rapidly and died .
            Besides, don’t believe anybody who tells you that somebody got drunk drinking “Cutty Shark”.
            It was “Old Grandad” in the 50s anyway- the standard brand of the Senate cloakroom. And ” Harvey’s” was the after hours watering hole. They used to have great popovers .

          • JSA says:

            It appears that Joe Caliphano agrees with my pressed trousered friend from Foggy Bottom, Photon.

            Joseph Califano, LBJ’s special assistant, once recalled riding with Johnson around the President’s Texas ranch followed by a station wagon full of Secret Service agents. “The President drank Cutty Sark scotch and soda out of a large white plastic foam cup.” Califano continued that, when Johnson wanted more, he “Would slow down and hold his left arm outside the car, shaking the cup and ice. A Secret Service agent would run up to the car, take the cup, and go back to the station wagon.” One can imagine the Kennedyites in Johnson’s administration watching in horror. The President’s rejection of French wine was probably in part an act of rebellion against the worldly sophistication of a Kennedy administration that had marginalized him as a country bumpkin when he served as Vice President. The French wines that Jacqueline Onassis’ carefully chose for state functions represented a different social milieu, and Johnson fought back accordingly by drinking cheap Cutty Sark from a foam cup. –

            See more at: http://baltimore.thedrinknation.com/articles/read/9113-Whatll-You-Have-Mr-President-A-Look-at-Drinks-in-Politics#sthash.JmdBZFVJ.dpuf

          • Photon says:

            That same story is all over the Internet with multiple versions that include the “Cutty Shark” reference. The problem I have with it is that multiple people seem to be referring to the same incident without any real proof that it happened in the first place. LBJ was known as a reckless driver on the ranch, but I do know for a fact that he moderated his use of alcohol while President, and tobacco, and certain foods. When he stopped that moderation in 1969 his heart disease accelerated, as evident in his last interview with CBS when he was popping nitros like the doomed heart patient he was .

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