Independent Press-Telegram from Long Beach, California on July 2, 1961 · Page 92
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Independent Press-Telegram from Long Beach, California · Page 92

Long Beach, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 2, 1961
Page 92
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Fourth of July with the Kennedy clan W ITH JACK IN THE WHITE HOUSE, young Bob serving as Attorney General, even-younger Teddy working in the Boston district attorney's office and the girls scattered in marriage, the Fourth of July isn't what it used to Ire at Hyannisport, Mass., the summer home of the Kennedys. None of the clan will forget those halcyon days w'hen the Fourth meant pink salmon, green peas and boiled potatoes; sailboat races off Cape Cod; violent games, vigorous arguments and an occasional flurry of fists. The fact that Massachusetts outlaws private fireworks never hampered the Kennedys, who were endowed with their own built-in gunpowder. The slightest spark would set off squeals of excitement, yells of triumph or roars of rage. Rarely have the dour people of the Cape encountered a family with so much whoop and holler. Attorney General Robert Kennedy recalls that few July 4ths went by without at least one bruising bout between his two older brothers. Joe Jr. (who was killed d u r i n g World War II on a volunteer mission to bomb Nazi submarine pens) was bigger and stronger. But Jack, who always got the worst of it, would fight back furiously. Young brother Teddy remembers the time Joe saved the frosting off his cake to cat last. Jack distracted his attention, snatched the frosting, gulped it down and streaked for the breakwater. Joe took off like a rocket in pursuit, and the two brothers fought it out. Joe, big mill boisterous, ruled his younger brothers and sisters kindly but firmly. Only Jack dared challenge his authority, and got many a lump for his audacity. Papa joe never interfered with their fighting, so long as it didn't get out of hand. He wanted his boys to be combative and competitive. His rule: "Compete with all your might against each other, but stick together against outsiders." For every time Joe and Jack battled each other, they fought several times hack to back. IT w,ss -FoonTii or JULY tradition that the Kennedy boys take part in sailboard races off the Cape. They usually won. If they came in second, they could expect a sharp rebuke from Papa Joe, who was satisfied with nothing less than victory. "What happened?" he would demand. "If the sail is too loose, tighten it. If the hull isn't shipshape, change it. But next time, win!" Sometimes the whole clan would embark in the family boat for a frolic on the water. They called the boat The Ten of Us; after Teddy was born, they bought another and named it One More. But sailing and scrapping were not enough to absorb the Kennedy energies. They took off the extra steam with baseball, tennis and, of course, touch football. The rougher the better. There was not even a let-up at mealtime. The clan would gather on the porch for the traditional salmon, potatoes and peas. In place of physical activity, there would be mental exercise. Arguments would rage back and forth, mostly about politics, government, world events. Forceful and articulate, Papa Joe had--and still has--strong views. But he never bulldozed his children into accepting his ideas. He preferred to stimulate their own thinking machinery. Joe Jr. was more like his father: impulsive, quick-tempered, rigid in his opinions. Jack was more cautious, less likely tn make snap judgments. Their gentle mother, Rose Kennedy, would fry to soothe the verbal storms and steer the conversation toward history and religion. In some families, the constant controversy might produce deep splits and bitter quarrels. Not so with the Kennedys; each has the right to express and hold to a point of view. "That's what he thinks," is a common and respected phrase among the clan. President Kennedy and wife Jacqueline enjoy his favorite summer sport. Bob Kennedy does not remember that his father deliberately brought · up patriotic subjects during their Fourth of July discussions. But sometimes he would bristle at being called Irish. "My father was born here. I was born here. My children were born here. What the hell does it take to be an American?" he would demand. Though proud of his Irish ancestor;-, he was prouder still of being an American. Both parents also drummed into their children that they enjoyed unusual advantages, and that these advantages inust be paid for by public service. The Attorney General remembers his father saying: "I have.been successful because of the kind of country we have, the system we live under. This is a debt that cannot be paid by going out and earning more money. It is a debt that can be paid only by service to the country which has made our good fortune possible." At the end of a happy hectic Fourth, the Kennedys usually would drift down to nearby Craigviilc Beach to watch the official fireworks. V-/NCE J A C K K E N N E D Y entered politics, he usually had to miss the annual family frolic in order to deliver Fourth of July addresses, but of all his patriotic speeches perhaps the greatest was heard only by one man, his close friend Sen. George Smathers (D., Fla.). Kennedy was recovering from his long, painful back operation. "It was a time," says Sniathers, "when he couldn't know what his future would be. Yet I have never known him to be more thoughtful and inspiring. The thoughts seemed to spring from the innermost recesses of his mind and heart. "He asked me to change his bandage. I saw the deep wound in his back, the metal plate against his spine. I knew he was the kind who would put aside the crutches and grit his teeth against pain when he faced outsiders. I remarked inadequately: "That really must hurt.' "I'll never forget Jack's reply. 'I don't have time to worry about the hurt,' he said. 'I don't have time to be immobilized. We are here only a short time. I'm not going to sit out my life on the bench shivering and thinking about the hurt and the risk. I love the game of life. I'm going to jump back into it and scramble through as well as I can or die trying!' " -- JACK ANDERSON r.: I'hntit Jij Kurfh aitiiitul backfiroHn,! of Declaration ol Independence.

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