Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Carlyle - JFK's NYC Digs

The Carlyle
The Famous Come and Go
By Pat Herman

NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 4. (UPI) – President Kennedy has chose as the New York City “White House” a hotel so exclusive that it allows ex-President Truman and Indian Premier Jawahrlal Nehru go unnoticed as Mr. Smith or Mr. Jones.

It is a White House in the sky and set with the grandeur of Paris on an avenue in New York City lined with art galleries and fashionable shops. Thirty-five stories above the street from his duplex apartment in the Hotel Carlyle the President can watch the sun rise or set. He can see west to New Jersey, east to the United Nations building and south almost to the tip of Manhattan Island.

At night, he can see the delicate blue lights which gently illuminate the small trees in front of the hotel. In the direction of Fifth Avenue, just a block away, are the twinkling lights of Central Park and, a bit north, the façade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art spotlighted as dramatically as the Louvre.

The view is as exciting as any seen in Paris’ Place De La Concorde or San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

They say at the hotel that only “the privileged” have stayed in suite 35B. It is reckoned that its rent for the average citizen would run close to $40,000 a year.

The presence of Mr. Truman, Nehru, Frances ex-Premier Pierre Mendes-France and the cream of international society is taken as an everyday occurrence by the guests of the 500 room hotel. Their composure is a natural part of the elegant 18th Century décor.

They have seen maharajahs come and business tycoons go. They blinked not an eye when Harry Truman was presented with a birthday cake complete with candles two years ago in the middle of the lobby after an early morning walk.

But the residence of Mr. Kennedy, younger, more glamorous and President of the United States, has excited the usually undemonstrative guests and raised the blood pressure of the hotel staff from manager down to bellhop.

“We’ve had Mr. Truman here but never the hoopla surrounding Mr. Kennedy’s visits,” said on secretary.

The hotel staff led by French-born Robert Huyot, who managed the Waldorf Astoria Towers when Mr. Kennedy’s father stayed there, is happy to have the President as a once-in-awhile guest. But Mr. Huyot noted a few of the details which made Mr. Kennedy’s presence more complicated than that of any other head of state:

-         Cheering mobs of youths anxious for a glimpse of their political hero crowd the sidewalks outside the grey-white stone building.
-         Whenever Mr. Kennedy arrives 30 direct telephone lines go into operation to accommodate the press.
-         Every morsel of food that is sent up to the presidential suite is personally tasted by Carlyle Chef Ernest Didler, formally of the Hotel Crillon in Paris. This is for security reasons, although the chef said he considered the chore “a pleasure.”
-         The Secret Service has scrutinized the hotel’s guest list and investigated every member of the staff apt to deal directly with the presidential party. Every piece of fruit or bouquet of flowers sent into the beige-carpeted suite is inspected.

Fortunately, Mr. Kennedy himself himself is easy to please.

Hotel President Robert Dowling and Mr. Huyot said that “he liked the suite the way it was” and that “he let this be known to us when he heard that we were planning extensive changes.”

Mrs. Kennedy, who stayed in the suite with her husband several times during the campaign, concurred. So the only alteration after Mr. Kennedy informed the hotel that he wanted to make the suite his New York presidential home was the hanging of several new paintings. These included several originals by Murillo, Degas, Pissarro and American painter Mary Cassatt.

Upstairs are two bedrooms. Mr. Kennedy uses the larger one, furnished and upholstered completely in beige. A Murillo hangs over the bed. There are two telephones on the bed table and a side switch for the bed lamp to facilitate reading. All chairs are covered in cream colored French brocade.

Between the bedrooms is a golden walled glass-enclosed breakfast room facing due east. When weather permits the breakfast room opens onto a spacious terrace. This runs the perimeter of the suite, encircling the entire tower except on the north side.

The entire Kennedy suite is carpeted in soft beige. The walls match. Furniture is all of the Louis XV period. A commode in the downstairs hall is an original. The living room is dominated by a plate glass window which almost spans its length.

The room faces west. The orange upholstery of the chairs is as golden as the setting sun dipping behind the giant skyscrapers. Mr. Kennedy favors the straight-backed open-armed chairs to the easier ones when he is not using the sofa. It is covered in olive-green velvet and sits behind a scene of London painted by Camille Pissarro.

A portable television set stands unobtrusively in the far corner. There is one private telephone in the room. The small den between living room and dining room has two. One belongs to the hotel. The other is a direct line into the suite. The den has a generous sized desk but Mr. Kennedy prefers to use the sofa when he works.

From “The Kennedy Detail” by Gerald Blaine (p. 25)

“Sandy Garelick was the senior police officer who headed up the New York City Bureau of Special Services and Investigations (BOSSI) squad and was the point man for setting up additional security for the president’s frequent visits to the city. He had handpicked his squad and the team was great to work with. Professionally they were among the best in the country. Garelick, however, had a strong personality that would present a real challenge for the Secret Service advance agents. Garelick didn’t seem to realize that the boarders of the United States extend beyond New York City, and he wanted to know what the president would be doing every minute he was in BOSSI territory. Garelick thrived on the attention the publicized presidential visits brought to his unit and proudly utilized the thirty thousand New York Police Department officers to endure the president’s security. The conflicts came during the off-the-record visits like this one when President Kennedy wanted to slip into the city as quietly as possible, with no fanfare. There had been enough clashes in the past three years that you could almost see President Kennedy cringe the minute he saw Sandy Garelick.”

“Somehow ATSAIC Art Godfrey had found a way to compromise with Garelick, though, and thus he was almost always given the advance assignments to New York. None of the other agents knew for sure if Godfrey really got along with Garelick, or if he was just smart enough to realize that an advance assignment to New York meant an extended stay at the Carlyle Hotel.”

“The burgers at the Carlyle’s Bemelmans Bar were as famous as the fanciful murals that decorated the walls of the renowned New York landmark,….”

“The president’s brother Senator Ted Kennedy was in town, staying at their sister’s house on Fifth Avenue, and the president wanted to pay a quick visit.”

Burt Sugar - 


In “The Assassination Chain” – Bert Sugar and Sybil Leek wrote about the JFK assassination as seen from a post-Watergate perspective, after the mob connections had come out. In this book they mention that one day, while dining at the Carlyle Hotel, they recognized John Rosselli and Judith Cambell Extner at a nearby table.

At some point, Extner leaves the table and doesn’t return for quite some time. They imply that Extner was visiting JFK at his 35th floor suite.

                                               KING ARTHUR AT CARLISLE CASTLE

Tradition: Carlisle. It was the site of one of King Arthur's many palaces spread around the country. It was at Carduel that Perceval (Peredyr) first arrived at King Arthur's Court and, from here, Yvain (Owein) set out on his grand adventure. Erec (orGereint) also hoped to track Arthur down at either his court at Caduel or Robais.

Carlisle is similarly mentioned, via its modern name, by Sir Thomas Malory. Arthur received a Roman delegation there, and it was at Carlisle Castle that Medrod and Agravain discovered Lancelot and Gwenhwyfar in flagrante delicto. Lancelot escaped from the ensuing armed skirmish, but Gwenhwyfar remained to be sentenced to be burnt at the stake outside the city walls. Lancelot naturally returned to rescue her, but the resulting Wars enabled Medrod to seize the British throne and inevitably led to the fateful Battle of CamlannEarly ballads concerning Gawain's unfortunate marriage to the "Loathly Lady" and his encounter with the spellbound giant "Carl of Carlisle" are also centred on the town and claim that:

King Arthur lives in merry Carlisle,
And seemly is to see;
And there with him Queen Guenever,
That bride so bright of blee.


From “The Once and Future King” – (p.513)

There was a knight from Hungry called Sir Urre, who had received wounds in a tournament several years before. He had been fighting with a man called Sir Alphagus, whom he had killed after getting these wounds – three of them on the head, four on the body and on the left hand. The mother of the dead Alphagus had been a Spanish witch, and she had put an enchantment on Sir Urre of Hungry, so that none of his wounds could ever heal up. All the time they were to go on bleeding, turn about, until the best knight in the best knight in the world had tended them and salved them with his hands.

Sir Urre of Hungry had long been carried from country to country – perhaps it was a sort of hemophilia – searching for the best knight who would be able to help. At last he had braved the channel to reach this foreign, northern land, Everybody had told him, everywhere, that his only chance was Lancelot, and in the end he had come to seek.

The court was at Carlisle at the time, for the feast of Pentecost, and it was arranged that everybody should meet in the town meadow. Sir Urre was carried there in a litter and laid on a cushion of gold cloth, for the attempt at healing to begin.

A hundred and ten knights – forty were away on quests – stood round him in ordered ranks, in their best clothes, and there were carpets laid down, and pavilions set up for the great ladies to watch. Arthur loved his Lancelot so much that he wanted him to have a splendid setting, in which his crowning achievement could be done.

This is the end of the book of Sir Lancelot, and now we are to see him for the last time in it. He was hiding in the harness-room of the castle, whence he could spy the field….He was waiting there, hidden, praying that somebody – Gareth perhaps? – would be able to do the miracle quickly; or, if not that they would overlook him, that his absence would not be noticed.

Do you think it would be fine to be the best knight in the world? Think, then, also, how you would have to defend the title. Think of the tests, such repeated, remorseless, scandal-breathing tests, which day after day would be applied to you – until the last and uncertain day, when you would fail.

Think also that you know of a good reason for your failure, which you have tried to hide, tried pathetically to hide and overlook, for five and twenty years. Think that you are now to go out, before the largest and most honorable gallery that can be assembled, to make a public demonstration of your sin. They are expecting you to succeed, and you are to fail; you are to publish the deceit which you have practiced for a quarter of a century, and they will all immediately know the reason for it – that reason of shame which you have sought to conceal from your own mind, and which, when it has been remembered itself in the silence of your empty chamber, has pricked you into a physical motion of your head to throw it off. Miracles, which you wanted to do long ago, can only be done by the pure in heart. The people outside are waiting for your to do this miracle because you have traded on their belief that your heart was pure – and now, with treachery and adultery and murder wringing the heart like a cloth, you are to go out into the sunlight for the test of honor.

Lancelot stood in the harness room as white as a sheet, Guenever was out there, he knew, and she was also pale. He twisted his fingers and looked at the strong reins, and prayed as best he could.

Lancelot did not hang himself with the reins… Now he was ready to take his punishment. He went to the long avenue of knights who waited in the sun. By the very attempt to evade notice he had brought on himself the conspicuous place of last. He walked down the curious ranks, ugly as ever, self-conscious, ashamed, a veteran going to be broken….

When Lancelot was kneeling in front of Urre, he said to King Arthur: “Need I do this, after everybody has failed?”

“Of course you must do it. I command you.”

“If you command me, I must. But it would be presumptuous to try – after everybody. Could I be let off?”

“You are taking it the wrong way,” said the King. “Of course it is not presumption for you to try. If you can’t do it, nobody can.”

Sir Urre, who was weak by now, raised himself on an elbow.

“Please,” he said. “I came for you to do it.”

Lancelot had tears in his eyes.

“Oh, Sir Urre,” he said, “if only I could help you, how willingly I would. But you don’t understand, you don’t understand.”

“For God’s sake,” said Sir Urre.

Lancelot looked into the East, where he thought God lived, and said something in his mind. It as more or less like this: “I don’t want glory, but please can you save our honesty? And if you will heal this knight for the knight’s sake, please do.” Then he asked Sir Urre to show him his head.

Guenever, who was watching fro her pavilion like a hawk, saw the two men fumbling together. Then she saw a movement in the people near, and a mutter came, and yells. Gentlemen began throwing their caps about, and shouting, and shaking heads. Arthur was crying the same words again and again, holding gruff Gawaine by the elbow and putting them into his ear. “It shut like a box! It shut like a box!”

Some elderly knights were dancing around, banging their shields together as if they were playing Pease Pudding Hot, and poking each other in the ribs. Many of the squires were laughing like madmen and slapping each other on the back. Sir Bors was kissing King Anguish of Ireland, who resented it…The cheers now began, round after round, were like drumfire or thunder, rolling round the turrets of Carlisle. Al the field, and all of the people in the field, and all the towers of the castle, seemed to be jumping up and down like the surface of a lake under rain.

In the middle, quite forgotten, her lover was kneeling by himself. This lonely and motionless figure knew a secret which was hidden from the others. The miracle was that he had been allowed to do a miracle….

William Travis Taylor as Lancelot in Light Opera...


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