Wednesday, November 23, 2011

JFK and the Maternity Furniture

These are two exchanges between President John Kennedy and an unnamed Air Force General concerning the purchase of maternity suite furniture for a room at Otis Air Force Base. The furniture was to be used for Mrs. Kennedy when she gave birth to their expected child, Patrick, who was born and died in August 1963, just a few months before the President's assassination.

The President, as well as the Air Force, were concerned that should Mrs. Kennedy go into labor while in Hyannis Port, rather than Washington, there would be no secure place for the delivery of the child. So the Air Force, with Mrs. Kennedy's assistance, spent $5,000 on furniture to fix up a maternity room for the First Lady. But nobody told the President! He actually read about it in the morning paper! His reaction was recorded on his "dict-a-belt" recorder. He was aware of the tape, and you can actually hear the effort he is making to control his anger.

The upshot of these two phone calls was the furniture got returned to Jordan-Marsh, and one Air Force Officer was sent to Alaska. The General on the phone is not Curtis LeMay, and "Furnituregate" has never been suspected as an element in the plot to kill the President. But these tapes are a hilarious look at what goes on in the White House, then, as well as now.

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