To my Grandchildren:
Dustin Michael RIP
7-18-1988 ~ 10-16-2010
Dustin forever changed my understanding of the word courage.
Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to reconcile to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him out to the public. – Winston Churchill
I am far closer to Mary than I am to Eve, And the apple never falls far from its tree…....
They were born three years and four months of one another, Jack on May 29, 1917 in Boston, Massachusetts, and Mary on October 14, 1920 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Both families were a part of the deep rooted social elite of the north-eastern United States.
Being a part of the north-eastern social, economical, and political inner circle, along with Jack’s and Mary’s good looks, sexual free spirit, and, of course, fate, set the course for an eventual sexual affair that endured for a period of twenty-two months within the White House, up to the very day of the tragic assassination.
Mary Pinchot-Meyer was the only one of Jack’s other women that Jackie, on record, insisted that he “get rid of”. With Mary and Jackie being old friends, Jackie was only asking that Jack rid himself of Mary as a lover; although Jackie, and others, could see that there was far more to Jack and Mary’s relationship than that of a usual Kennedy sexual fling.
As hard as it may be to imagine today, Washington was actually a sexier town during the years of the cold war. Flirtation was an art. Marriage was respected and divorce rates were low, in spite of the 1950s and early 1960s era being the dawn of a new era in male-female relations, with traditional relationships being tested almost in mass. Lines were crossed, and hearts were broken. However, the women of Mary Pinchot-Meyer’s generation, and class, always operated with propriety. If their husbands and friends, and even they, conducted themselves like characters from a romance novel, it was all but forbidden for a journalist of that era to report, let alone to investigate. 1
Although sex with the president was a prime reason that the CIA feared and supposedly destroyed Mary’s diary, her life was no more about sex than anyone else’s. 2
As a writer I have tried to give Mary as much dignity and respect as I would grant that of a philandering man of importance of the same era. The recorded life stories of women throughout history are, more often than not, domestic histories of men, with this being no less true of the women of Mary’s generation and class. While women typically figure in domestic aspects of lives of famous men, they are rarely portrayed as collaborators in their public sphere. Traditionally, historians are interested in mistresses for what they reveal about the lives of the men with whom the consorted, however, I will attempt to reveal what the men and the times had on Mary. 3
Mary’s style was questing. She was an experimental, doubting woman, with a strong will of her own, and those qualities made her unusual, especially in the convention-worshiping 1950s….even more so among her female peers in Washington. Although she was clearly not ordinary in terms of looks and means, her life was one that ordinary women will recognize. 4