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I only care for the lonely sea, And I always will, I know, For the loveof the sea is born in me It will never let me go.
--Jacqueline LeeBouvier, 1942
She was supposed to be born in the middle of June, but she was born inlate July. She was supposed to be born in the city, but she was born bythe sea. It seemed as if she came into the world precisely when andwhere she wanted to.
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born in the smalland newly constructed Southampton Hospital, near the south shore of LongIsland, New York. Twenty-one-year-old Mrs. Bouvier, the former JanetNorton Lee, was spending the summer weekend in nearby East Hampton as ashort break from the past six weeks at home waiting for the baby toarrive. Finally, on the afternoon of July 28, 1929, the small but sturdywoman was rushed to the hospital, where her eight-pound daughter wasborn.
Everyone was excited, waiting for word from the hospital. Whenthe baby came home, the family rushed over and surrounded her.
--John Davis, cousin
It had been a hot Sunday; `record throngs atlocal beaches,' reported the New York Times. That same day, a St.Louis pilot won an airplane race--flying five hundred hours, refuelingonly thirty-five times; Aristide Briand became the new premier ofFrance; and plans were finally developed to have a lower reservoir inCentral Park converted into a children's playing field, while retainingthe larger reservoir uptown. The Coolidge administration had just endedfive months before, but prosperity was continuing under the newpresident, Herbert Hoover. More American families of all classes nowownedradios to keep up with the news. Model T Fords were alreadycongesting the bridges and avenues of Manhattan, and although blacktopnow stretched all the way out to East Hampton from the city, on MontaukHighway, many of the roads in the social hamlet were still unpaved dirtroads, winding under bowers of wisteria and banked by overgrown beachrosebushes and honeysuckle, swarming with bumblebees. It was Jackie'sfirst summer at the shore. Parents Jack Bouvier was a Wall Streetstockbroker, but he still raced about in a black Lincoln convertible ashe had since graduating from Yale. He was nicknamed `Black Jack' becauseof his jet-black hair and dark, perpetual tan. Others called him `TheSheik' because his exaggerated manner resembled that of RudolphValentino. `A most devastating figure,' his daughter Jackie recalled.His twin sisters, Maude and Michelle, were close friends of thestrong-willed Janet Lee, a noted equestrian, educated at Sweet BriarCollege and Barnard. Jack was sixteen years her senior.
He waspowerful, wealthy, exotic and undeniably, darkly attractive. . . . Hewas always rushing off. To some meeting of importance, or the Yale game,or the Dempsey fight, or the horse show at the Garden. Most of the time,he was just dropping off some stunning young lady, or about to pick oneup. If the twins' friend [Janet Norton Lee] was particularly lucky, hewould pause in the doorway, flash his heart-melting smile, and whisperthe word, `Hullo.' Then he would vanish. He was dashing out of the houseone day when he stopped dead in his tracks. However long it had beensince he had last seen Janet, it had been time enough for biologicalmagic to have turned her into full and deliciously admirable womanhood.There, across the room she stood, in all her glory. Frozen, Jack eyedher, then leapt into the breach of courtship without another moment'shesitation. As he proceeded along familiar lines with his usualearnestness, the twins looked at one another in bewilderment. It musthave been overwhelming for the girl as well. . . . It didn't take longbefore they became engaged.
--Kathleen Bouvier, niece-in-law of JackBouvier
Janet married Jack on July 7, 1928, at the Bouvier family's East Hamptonchurch, St. Philomena. The wedding was quintessential high society inthe Jazz Age, a page out of F. Scott Fitzgerald, with bridesmaids inyellow chiffon dresses and green straw hats. An afternoon reception forfive hundred followed at the Lily Pond Lane estate that Janet's parentshad rented for the summer. Dance music was provided by the popular MeyerDavis orchestra. After a wedding night at the Plaza Hotel in New York,the Bouviers set off on a European honeymoon, crossing the Atlantic onthe SS Aquitania--the luxury liner the Joseph P. Kennedys sailed on twomonths later. Upon their return the newlyweds initially set up house inJack Bouvier's former bachelor apartment at 375 Park Avenue. At EastHampton, they hosted their first party at the Devon Yacht Club, turningit into a speakeasy of sorts. To attend, one had to give the passwords`Jack and Janet,' a whimsical reference to the speakeasy `Jack andCharlie's,' later to be known more famously as the 21Club.
The first ofJackie's paternal ancestors to settle in America was Michel Bouvier, whoarrived from France in 1815. He was a descendant of tradesmen from PontSaint-Esprit in the Provence region of southern France, near Marseilles,on the Rhone River. Bouvier immigrated to Philadelphia, where he earnedhis fortune as a master carpenter and cabinetmaker. Later, he dealt inreal estate. The family were listed in the first edition of the SocialRegister published before the century's end, but by then they had turnedto law and investment. Jackie's father, great-grandson of Michel, wasborn and raised in Nutley, New Jersey, but came of age in New York,where he eventually bought a seat on the stock exchange. By the timeJackie was christened, three days before Christmas at New York's St.Ignatius Loyola Church, Jack's brother, Bud, had died. His son, Michel,known as `Mish,' was shortly thereafter adopted in name by his uncleJack. In turn, Mish became Jackie's godfather.
My mother was so different--she didn't want to marry--she wanted a careerin singing and the stage, which was not encouraged by the Bouviers. Butto the children she was beloved for her singing.
--Edith `Little Edie'Beale, first cousin
The Bouviers gathered in the summers, at the family estate on FurtherLane in East Hampton, called Lasata, which meant `place of peace' inNative American. Jackie lived with her parents nearby, at their rentedsummer cottage, Rowdy Hall at 111 Egypt Lane and later Wildmoor, onAppaquogue Road, owned by the Bouviers.
Ancient elms, old Dutchwindmills, and foursquare wood houses dating back to the 1600s were andare the landmarks of East Hampton. As a little girl, Jackie lovedexploring the village, always fascinated by the Lily Pond grave of LionGardiner, born in 1599, upon which lay a carving showing his effigy infull European military regalia.
Back at Lasata, the expansive groundswere managed by Jackie's maternal grandmother, the former Maude FrancesSergeant, daughter of a Kent, England, immigrant. There were fifteenacres of manicured lawn, privet hedges, vegetable fields, fruitorchards, a sunken Italian garden, a decorative fountain filled withgoldfish, tennis courts, a stable, and a riding ring. It was at thestable that Jackie was happiest, grooming her horse and putting itthrough various paces. Athletic like her mother, at Lasata Jackie playedtennis and baseball. Among her favorite pastimes was wandering alonethrough the wild blueberry bushes that stretched along the brush betweenLasata and the ocean.
Jackie was always somebody I wanted to become,because she was so wonderful. There was a calmness, a serenity. She wasnever riled, never irritated, never raised her voice. And she was kind.
--Barbara Johnson, childhood friend
Her sense of personalstyle--not just how to wear clothing, but her posture, movement, andmanners--were ingrained early on by the Bouvier clan, but it was thosechildhood summers at Lasata--that place where the air was filled with thesound of seagulls and the musty scent of the nearby beach roses, runningriot just beyond the hedge--that gave her a lifelong passion. Jackiewould always be drawn to the seaside, to the ocean community, to life atthe shore. As We Remember Her. Copyright © by Carl Sferraz Anthony. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.