I’ve been thinking about JFK and the so-called “Camelot” years a lot lately. Can’t help it, with all the publicity in advance of “The Kennedys” being aired on the Reelz Channel.
With the Kennedy family, there’s a lot to think about . But it wasn’t JFK, or his affair with Marilyn Monroe, or Joe Kennedy’s whisky running and alleged Mafia ties or fixing the ballot in Illinois, or the story of PT-109 that popped into my head. No, it was none of that. It was Caroline’s pony.
Long ago, when I was 13 or 14, my parents took my brother and me to visit the White House. I had all but forgotten the visit, until my mother mentioned it years later. I remembered seeing the house, especially the Lincoln bedroom, but had forgotten the little girl riding her pony across the lawn and the toddler down on the ground scrambling to keep up with her. The little girl was Caroline Kennedy. The toddler, was her brother, John Jr.
After my mother brought it up, my memory was sufficiently jolted to brush back some of the cerebral cobwebs revealing long forgotten pictures in my mind. But were my memories real? The journalist in me questions nearly everything. Particularly something in the distant past.
That a time existed when the daughter of the President of the United States could ride her pony across the White House lawn is almost beyond belief. Can you imagine President Obama’s daughters riding ponies on the White House lawn? Oh sure, the kid’s safety would be an issue, but for any variety of reasons people would probably go nuts. They went after Michelle Obama for planting a vegetable garden, didn’t they? A vegetable garden? We seem to have arrived at a time where you can’t do anything, without somebody, some splinter group somewhere, going crazy about it. The thought that a little girl would be denied having a pony is just plain sad.
Anyway, I was having trouble convincing myself that I had actually seen what my mother told me I had seen. My memory, once again sparked (this time by a tv series), I googled “Caroline Kennedy – horse – White House lawn,” and found this photo. Would love to know who shot it and when. Would have been somewhere between 1961 and 1963. The pony’s name was “Macaroni.”
When thinking about the Kennedys, it’s easy to fall into a sentimental trap. Still, there was but one American Camelot. They owned it, and forever will. To date, there has been but one Cuban missile crisis and JFK prevented it from destroying the world. Together JFK and his brother Robert, helped put the country on the road to desegregation. And yes, there was also an overbearing father and Marilyn Monroe and all the rest of it, and still, what a time it was. They may have been imperfect human beings but they gave a great deal to the country. JFK and Bobby, gave us all they had.
I continue to have difficulty believing I was there watching Caroline ride that pony across the White House lawn. In a time and place before her father and uncle were assassinated, denying an entire nation the promise of a new tomorrow.
“The Kennedys,” an eight-part series, begins airing on the Reelz Channel on Sunday, April 3. It was originally scheduled to be aired on the History Channel, which dropped the series due to questions about its historical accuracy. The producer, Joel Surnow, is a conservative. Questions were raised by liberals, questioning its authenticity. There was apparently considerable consternation over issues of whether the filmmaker took undue creative license with regard to the Kennedy’s sex lives and whether they had a proclivity for popping pills. Things apparently went downhill from there, and now it’s airing on “Reelz” rather than “History.” Which only makes sense. The History Channel is currently home to “Ancient Aliens” and “Larry the Cable Guy,” so they do have a standard to maintain.