Rfk Diaries Shed Light On An Era
April 03, 1994|By
WASHINGTON — Less than three months after President John F. Kennedy's assassination, the Johnson administration was asking Robert F. Kennedy to review the funeral bills, according to documents released for the first time Friday by the John F. Kennedy Library and the National Archives.
"I tried to pass this on to Sarge," wrote Robert Kennedy's secretary, Angie Novello, referring to Kennedy's brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, after the White House requested a meeting on the funeral expenses. "But they referred it back to us. Couldn't someone else do this?"
The memo of
18, 1964, was included in five newly released boxes of Robert
Kennedy's desk diaries, telephone messages and logs from his days as attorney
general. The patchwork of records offers a fresh glimpse at the younger
Kennedy's life before and after his brother's death. U.S.
Among the records are echoes from the heydays of Camelot, early in John Kennedy's presidency, when by day Robert greeted such celebrities as Milton Berle and Harry Belafonte at his office and by night pursued a variety of entertainment.
"Uptown Theatre, ," for the
premier of "Exodus," states an entry in his desk diary on Washington Feb. 19, 1961. "Guest of the
ambassador of ." Israel
Later, in the aftermath of his brother's assassination on
Nov. 22, 1963, there were sadder
notations: the funeral bills, calls from his sisters about his father's
debilitating illness and a visit to
on St. Patrick's Day in 1964 to place a shamrock on his brother's grave. Arlington
Sprinkled throughout the documents are references to his nine children
"Joe and Kathleen ride in the horse show," his diary notes on Oct. 29, 1961, referring to his oldest son, Joseph P. Kennedy II, now a Democratic U.S. representative from Massachusetts, and daughter, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, now an assistant U.S. attorney general.
"Courtney's final Communion at Stone Ridge"
of the Sacred Heart,
read an entry on Country
Day School April 25, 1964,
referring to his daughter. Last year she married Paul Hill, one of the
so-called Guilford Four, who were improperly imprisoned in
for 15 years as suspected Irish Republican Army terrorists. Britain
The records do not include Kennedy's desk diaries for 1963 or for periods in 1962, including a 13-day stretch beginning the day before Marilyn Monroe died on Aug. 4. Steven Tilley, head of the Kennedy collection at the National Archives, said his agency has requested those documents from the Kennedy Library in
. But library officials said they are not
"We've never seen the desk diaries for 1963 or for the gaps in 1962," said Will Johnson, the chief archivist at the Kennedy Library. "We've asked the Kennedy family for them, but no one really seemed to know if they existed."
Johnson said there could easily have been periods when Kennedy was traveling or vacationing and did not make entries.
In the preserved records, there are numerous references to Kennedy's relatives, including "Dinner at Teddy's"-his brother, Sen. Edward Kennedy of
"Tea at the Ritz" in Massachusetts
"with Pat and Eunice," his sisters. Boston
And messages from his wife, Ethel. On
Feb. 12, 1964, she called and wanted "to
know if it would be all right to invite eight or 10 people for dinner this
There also was a less festive note from Eunice, an advocate for the disabled, "who wanted to know if you are doing anything about hiring the retarded at Justice," his secretary wrote.
Much of the diary reads like a Who's Who of
with calls or visits from House Speaker John McCormack, Gov. Endicott Peabody,
columnist Mary McGrory and reporter and columnist Robert Healy of The Boston
Globe, among others. Boston
Kennedy fielded calls in his office from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and a daily crush of lawmakers and reporters.
The last call recorded in his telephone messages on the day of his brother's assassination was placed at by Sen. Birch Bayh of
The first entry recorded in his desk diary after the murder was a meeting on
Jan. 7, 1964,
to plan the Kennedy Library.