Happy Birthday, Caroline Bouvier Kennedy Schlossberg
Caroline, 50 on Nov. 27th
Crystal, 50 on Dec. 11th
When I was just 5 years old, a few weeks before I turned 6, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed (assassinated) in Texas. All Americans know this story, and anyone my age and older still around can probably tell you what he was doing that day.
I remember it. We were living in Arcadia, Indiana, (well, just down the road from Arcadia) on a dirt road in a country farmhouse. (Cows, a pony named Star, and everything country.) My mother was in the living room folding laundry, watching her soap ("As the World Turns," probably) while she did the mindless chore, and a news bulletin rang out--"President Kennedy has been shot." There was a lot of terror and instability for everyone in that report.
I was sitting on the staircase, trying to figure out how to reach this tiny porcelain horse figure on a shelf, just below the step on the wall. I was being disobedient. I had been told not to touch them, but I was sitting there on that step looking at it, and I finally realized that Mom was preoccupied, folding laundry and watching T.V. I just wanted to touch it. I adored that horse. (I'm a kinesthetic learner, ok??)
I was just reaching out to just "look" a little closer, when I heard my mother gasp and turn up the T.V. I jumped up, sure I was caught! and ran down the stairs with my blazing hot hands behind me. I was all ready to 'splain myself, when I saw she wasn't even paying attention to me--she was watching the T.V. intently. All I really knew about it was that my mother was crying, and someone was hurt, and it was "real." I patted my mother's back and tried to understand, but I don't remember much else except the emotion and she being glued to the T.V. set--for days. (Like everyone else.)
We all have seen John-John's photo, saluting his father as the caisson holding his daddy's flag-draped coffin went by, but mostly, we ignored a little girl named Caroline, President and Mrs. Kennedy's oldest child. I did not realize until recently how close in age we were. I could list a bunch of things, but here's some that I would have never thought about except for this significant birthday we share this year.
When I was 12, I took guitar lessons from a genius teacher named Bill Myers. He was young, married and had a baby daughter and a big St. Bernard (who would come in during my lesson to lick my arm. They gave me a towel each lesson.) It was in his house and his wife was always there. And the dog. (I liked the dog, but for some reason her name escapes me.) The dog liked the way I tasted, I guess and slobbered me every time. ("She likes you! She really likes you!")
He was a really nice person, but he pushed me in music. I learned something new every week and progressed quickly. He would make me do various fingerings, transposing, writing music and songs, and even sing while I played my lesson. He adored Neil Diamond, and would send his precious albums home with me, trying to get me to "hear" the different guitar pieces I was assigned. I did just about every song ol' Neil had out during that time. One of his songs was a number called "Sweet Caroline."
This year Caroline Kennedy turns 50 on November 27,2007. I turn 50 on December 11, 2007. Her life was never the same after that fateful day, just 5 days before her birthday, her dad died and she had to move. I never thought about that before. Her dad had been nearly a 1000 days in the White House, and her last Christmas was there. The next Christmas after her birthday, she had to move.
Neil Diamond recently sang "Sweet Caroline" for Caroline--and revealed he had written that song when he saw Caroline seated on a pony as a child.
Crystal on her pony, Star, with Aunt Nell and little brother on the farm in Arcadia (I don't have the inspirational photo of Caroline on her pony)
Crystal playing Neil Diamond Songs
Neil Diamond playing Neil Diamond songs
Even though my dad wasn't a United States President, I, too, had a pony(no body guards--I hit the dirt and picked myself up.) It is a strange feeling knowing that at the same age, two little girls who were so close in so many things including age, but so far apart in most ways, are remembering similar memories from two perspectives.
From my perspective I got to have my dad for another 36 years and my mom for 34 more years. My little brother is still around. That whole time period was burned into my memory,but only because it made my mother cry and I don't remember her crying ever, even after I grew up. My mother maybe was like Jackie Kennedy in that you didn't see her reveal emotion in public, and she held herself regally, dealing with blows in a reserved and stoic way. And my dad has a bit o' the Irish in him,too (Rileys.)
I don't really have much else to say about all this, but thought I'd share photos from the lives of two little girls who both turn 50 this year.
Caroline and her daddy
Crystal and her daddy
Caroline and her little brother
Crystal and her little brother