20150716

JACKIE

In September 1963, Jackie Onassis's stand-in hostess Eunice Shriver entertained King Mohammed Zahir Shah and Queen Homaira of Afghanistan at a White House state dinner. Mohammed Zaher who became King in 1933, was the first Afghan monarch to visit the United States. During their 12-day state visit, King Zaher and Queen Homaira visited Williamsburg in Virginia; Washington D.C, Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, New York, Wyoming, California and Indiana before returning back to Kabul. The Associated Press reported, "Both the Soviets and the Americans are wooing the primitive mountainous country with aid. Moscow is pouring in economic assistance at about double the $25 million annual rate of U.S. aid, plus arms to help which the United States does not supply to Afghanistan." 

Jack Kennedy frequently stayed at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. French chef Ernest Didier told the United Press International in 1961, "Your President Kennedy is one of the easiest persons to feed – not like the presidents of France. When he decided to stay here I was told only to remember that he came from Boston and that he liked simple American styled food. But the President preferred lamb chopped and mashed potatoes – he is crazy about them. He also likes chicken the way it is done in Boston – very, very dry with celery stuffing...The President orders from the menu and eats well because he gets exactly what he wants. Your Mr. Truman did not eat very much." 

One time Ernest prepared lunch in a box for Jack to eat on his flight back to Washington and was asked by Jack's aide if the box contained sandwiches. "Sandwiches?" Ernest reportedly gasped in dismay, "I would not prepare a luncheon of sandwiches for the President of the United States. In that box was cream of chicken soup (kept in a thermos bottle), double lamb chops, mashed potatoes and string beans and a little angel cake. I made it specially because it is one of his favorite desserts." 

Ernest also disclosed, "The other day (back in February 1961), the President ordered poached eggs for breakfast. He was on the telephone when they arrived and so they were slightly hard when he ate them. The following morning when he saw his eggs he smiled and asked, 'Are they soft?' He likes them done only about 3 and one-half minutes. The President eats very quickly." 

In May 1961, Jack and Jackie went to Canada on a 3-day state visit. The Governor-General's state dinner in honor of Jack and Jackie took place in the ballroom of Government House. Some 100 guests attended. For appetizer, "Iqaluppi" (Eskimo fish) was served. For the main course and dessert: "Chicken pheasant consomm√©, roast saddle of lamb with spring vegetables, mashed potatoes rolled in yolk of egg and bread crumbs, braised lettuce, chilled strawberries with vanilla ice cream served in baskets made of sugar, petits fours with almonds." 

The Montreal Gazette reported, "In terms of high policy, President Kennedy came to Ottawa with the hope and intention of doing what he could to induce the Canadian government to enlarge substantially its program of financial aid to the world's under-developed countries; to enter Canada in the Organization of American States and, thirdly, to embark on an economic aid program in that area (Canadian financial assistance is now (in 1961) concentrated on India, Pakistan and other countries of South and Southeast Asia)." 

JFK told the Canadians, "Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners and necessity has made us allies. Those who nature have so joint together let no man put asunder. The free world cause is strengthened because it is just but it is strengthened even more by the dedicated effort of free men and free nation. The great parliamentarian Edmund Burke said, 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.' And that in essence is why I'm here today (in May 1961). This trip is more than a consultation, more than a goodwill visit. It is an act of faith. Faith in your country, in your leaders. Faith in the capacity of 2 great neighbors to meet their common problem and faith in the course of freedom in which we are so intimately associated." 

In July 1961, the President of Pakistan, Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan arrived in the United States on a 3-day state visit to discuss military and economic assistance. Jackie came up with the idea of holding the state dinner at George Washington's ancestral home after her experience in Versailles and Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace. Some 140 guests sailed 1¼ hours downstream the Potomac aboard 4 yatchs and dined under a specially-designed green tent. Their cuisine reportedly cooked at the White House and catered from a portable army kitchen. Two portable generators were used to supply electricity. 

Newspaper Enterprise Association reported "one of the principal reasons Ayub wanted to come to the United States – and why his visit was advanced – was the dissatisfaction over the results of President Eisenhower’s visit to Pakistan in 1959." It was understood Pakistan's "defense forces are described as having gaps in their equipment. They have tanks but need transports. Their naval vessels need surface-to-air missiles. Their air force needs radar and jets." At the time, Pakistan had already received $350 million in U.S. economic aid. It was reported that a World Bank-arranged consortium, made up of some 6 nations, had pledged $320 million for Pakistan's development program. However Ayub Khan expressed disappointment that a similar consortium had given India $2 billion over 2 years (in 1962 and 1963). 

In November 1961, Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Indira Ghandi went to the United States on a 4-day state visit to discuss nuclear testing. Prime Minister Nehru said, "We may not agree with the American people always but you have always seemed to us in some ways near to us, near in certain ideals you hold and which are cherished in your Constitution and which we took into our own Constitution." In March 1962, Jackie was invited to visit India for 9 days and Pakistan for 5 days which Jackie described as "the most magic 2 weeks in my life." Prime Minister Nehru observed, "She has been liked wherever she's gone, chiefly due to the charm of her personality." 

Of the state dinners at the White House, Selwa Roosevelt made the comment in 1984, "During the '50s, it was all very formal. The Eisenhowers had everyone at a big U-shaped table for state dinners. Then Jackie Kennedy came in with this youthful exuberance of the '60s and changed it all." Letitia Baldrige  concurred, "Everything was so stiff and starchy with these big towering flower arrangements and many long courses. Mrs Kennedy broke up the U-shaped tables and made round tables for the first time ever in the White House. The Marine Band was never allowed to play until the Kennedy era. People weren't served drinks. Now (by 1984) the music comes on the minute the guest come into the House and cocktails are offered. Mrs Kennedy has been copied ever since. She had her hand in everything."

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