At the time, in 1974, Times to Remember by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was the only book written by a Kennedy about the family. Rose was in her mid 80s when she wrote this book and lived to be 104 when she died of pneumonia in 1995. In writing her memoir, Rose involved her children to contribute their memories about the family. As I reading, I kept thinking what a remarkable woman and mother Rose was. She was so smart and a great teacher to her children. Sadly three of her first four children were gone by 1948 and twenty years later two more had died – only four of Rose’s nine children remained throughout her life.
The Kennedy Kids:
- Joe Jr. 1915 – 1944 (plane crash in WW2)
- Jack 1917 – 1963 (assassinated)
- Rosemary 1918 – 2005 (institutionalized since 1941)
- Kathleen 1920 – 1948 (plane crash)
- Eunice 1921 – 2009
- Pat 1924 – 2006
- Bobby 1925 – 1968 (assassinated)
- Jean 1928 –
- Teddy 1932 – 2009
Between Joe Jr and Bobby, Rose had a child once every 18 months.
Rose and Joe met as children as their families (with other families) picnicked at Walden Pond. Their fathers were friends and political allies and foes. Rose and Joe married in October of 1914. They passed down the importance of education, especially history, down to the their children. This was key to both Rose and Joe because their own education was cut short to help provide for their families because both their fathers died at the age of 35.
The legendary Kennedy mealtime talks were true. Rose kept a bulletin board with clippings of current events for conversations. The big table was for the older children and the little table for the younger children, so everyone could participate. Rose writes, “The destiny of the world is shaped by those persons who get their ideas across – for better or for worse.” No one could be even a minute late for a meal – at all. Rose writes, “Promptness is a compliment to the intelligent, a rebuke to the stupid.”
Rose kept track of her nine children by keeping index cards with health stats and milestones. Joe sensed the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and sold most of his stock before the crash, which is how they were not suffering during the Great Depression like most others.
Rose glossed over Rosemary’s lobotomy calling it a neurological procedure, never mentioning Joe had it done without her knowledge. Also, Rose never mentioned Joe’s infidelities. She even wrote about how Gloria Swanson was their house guest and toured around Europe with her to promote her movies.
Something that was noteworthy that I never really thought about before. Jack was President while Bobby was Attorney General and Ted was a Senator – then later both Bobby and Ted were in the Senate together.