Thursday, February 21, 2008

Another Kennedy, another dress

Doralong's fabulous post about a truly fabulous moment and meeting, inspires me to write about my own little, though very different brush with greatness. When I was five years old, my grandmother - who was big in the Democratic party and campaigned for Kennedy in the South - was appointed by President Kennedy to the U.N. Now, I've had some issues with my Grandmother, but she was spunky, I'll give her that. So, when they asked her if she wanted to bring any guests to watch her get officially appointed in the Oval office, she said, "Why, yes. I do!" And she proceeded to invite all her children, their spouses and children, and any other stray relative who wanted to come along - about 16 or 20 people, ages three and up. The Whitehouse was, apparently, flustered but said, "Well...OK."

Now, when an upper-crust Southern woman has any stress or excitement in her life, she either drinks or shops (I'm betting my Grandmother did both at the same time, on occasion). But since I was only in kindergarten, my mother and expressed our excitement by working hard on what to wear. So, girls, gather round and I'll tell you in gory detail about my dress. It was forest green, had a fitted top with a Peter-pan collar, a full skirt and a sash that tied into a big bow in the back. But the very special thing, the thing I adored about this dress, was that it had a saucy little pattern of hats on it, and some of the hats were....(wait for it ladies)... padded so as to be three-dimensional! I know, sounds weird, and it probably was, but to my five-year-old mind it was unimaginable couture wizardry. Mother, if memory serves, wore a simple sheath dress.

On the big day, we all crowded in to the Oval office to watch my grandmother get sworn in. I have absolutely no memory of the main event. I was five, after all, and wearing very shiny Mary Janes and a fabulous green dress with little puffy hats on it. Who could concentrate on all the mumbo jumbo grown up words? But I do vividly remember, after the swearing in, a very tall President Kennedy bending WAY down toward me, then reaching out gravely, and shaking my hand.

Of course, I still have the dress.

(P.S. - I have a picture of that day and all of us swarming in the Oval office. I'll try and scan it soon and post it here.)

19 comments:

yellowdog granny said...

wow, what a great story..and a great memory for you even if you only remember the dress...

sageweb said...

That is a great memory. Not too many people can say they met President Kennedy. Oh and I cannot wait to see this picture..and a picture of the dress...how fantastic to have this memory.

Willym said...

Again a wonderful memory. I was going to say: there must be a picture of the event. Can hardly wait to see it.

Southern women - Dora, you et al - have a certain way about them. Must be something in the air in Dixie!

more cowbell said...

Oh I can just see it! And the dress, how sweet ... a Peter Pan collar, a sash, and 3D hats. You were a fancy girl that day, with the Mary Janes, too. What a memory. thanks for sharing that.

Doralong said...

*Now, when an upper-crust Southern woman has any stress or excitement in her life, she either drinks or shops*

That more or less covers it...

Yes we are obviously related.

What a truly wonderful story! I can't wait to see the picture!

H. Alan Scott said...

wow, what a fantastic story!

JB said...

Fantastic!

Anonymous said...

xoxo!

Auld Hat said...

Unimaginable couture wizardry?!
Yes yes you MUST show us the dress.

Miss Janey said...

HATtastic dress, do doubt. Can't wait to see the picture.

citizen jane said...

Fantastic story. Fantastic dress -- and I love the fact that you still have it.

And drinking & shopping is a time honored tradition that I myself have participated in. Both stressful and exciting.

Anonymous said...

A little of both, sounds like you knew her well. And Spunky too. Wish I could have had a pair of Mary Janes. I wish I could have worn yours!! Yuk Yuk

Elizabeth said...

It's never too late, darlin'!!!

jason said...

Now *that's* a story.

pat said...

Great story,very nice memory...but show us the dress soon, okay? Hat-tastic, indeed!

mumbliss said...

three amazing women in different ways, but all stylin', gorgeous and mentors for us puddle jumpers. The president was definitely correct in making you a deep bow. The dress, the shoes, the amazing little girl... What a great story, as they all are. Bow, bow, bow, tee hee hee hee.

Elizabeth said...

I love that he took the time to stop and, with great gravity and kindness (as if we were Lilliputian heads of state), to shake the hands of even the littlest ones of us, who had only the vaguest notion of what a big stinkin' deal this was. He must have done little things like this a million times, but I'm sure that this kind of consideration (and, yes, also political instinct) is part of what makes him so beloved in national memory. So many of us must remember, as I do, that this hugely important man stopped for a minute and took the time to see me, the little unimportant person before him.

mumbliss said...

I am sure that you were absolutely adorable. You were probably the most beautiful little woman in the room. I can't imagine him missing the opportunity to be charmed and charm you. He was knowledgable about fashion and he was an irishman. He was huge and important, but he was just a man too. The story is a good one. His greatness in understanding how to show and enjoy his humanity in the middle of a "function" is a story we can all benefit from hearing. That minute that he spent meeting you may have been one of the more valuable minutes he spent in that day. We all have opportunities to make more of our minutes when we meet someone and share our bit of humanity. Those are the times we are the lucky ones. Even if you are shorter than him, your smiles and greetings and your consideration and your ability to share yourself are brave and important to all of us who have had the pleasure. Lilliputian ambassador, very possibly, and perhaps he shared his own version of the story over cookies when he got home..

D-Man said...

I can't wait to see the pic!