Summer with Talbots

Summer Styles from Tuckernuck

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cocktails at the Kennedy Compound

I am so excited.  One of my oldest and dearest, Susie B, called me last week to tell me that she was a guest at the Kennedy Compound the week before.  The Kennedy Compound I asked?  Yup, she answered, the one and only.
Although I love Susie B to pieces... I was secretly pea green with envy.  You see, I am a total Kennedyphile to put it mildly.  I have been in love with the Kennedys since I was a 5 year old when I campaigned door-to-door with my Dad for JFK.
If I could have majored in the Kennedy's I probably would have gotten much better grades.  I definitely would have increased my education with a masters degree in Jack and Jackie.
Anywho, after hearing about the fabulous evening, I asked Susie B if she would be willing to write a post for me.  She agreed!!  And she did a fantabulous job!!   


How is it possible that a cold, windy Saturday at the end of June could be the best day I’ve ever spent on Cape Cod?  It’s true.  It was one of those crazy 24 hour turn-around kind of weekends…..and for good reason.  My presence was welcome in Hyannis at the Kennedy Compound.

If you’re going to force me into the truth, really any Connecticut Democrat (or Republican for that matter) with a few (several) extra shekels was welcome there.  I just took them up on it.  It was a fundraiser for the Connecticut Democrats.  I wasn’t planning on attending as my nephew and his gal were having a housewarming having just bought their first home.  My dear friend Tom McCarthy shamed me into going with lines like….’if your mother were alive you would certainly be going and bringing her with you’ and ‘this is a chance of a lifetime’.  What I didn’t realize was that he was simply looking for a partner in crime.  

As we walked into the driveway it quickly became clear how accessible and normal this place was. It was simply a beautiful beachfront neighborhood with several houses in a bit of a cluster.  This is where the Kennedys lived.   This is their summer home.  There are no big walls.  There are no guards at the front to keep you out.  People simply live here.  The houses are all warm and typical of the area yet deeply rich in history.  It was pointed out who had owned each house, a history lesson in its own right.  What a thrill.

I was overwhelmed sitting in the sun porch where Jack and Jackie had lived.  We were treated with a loop of home movies to remind us (as though it was needed) of the typical scenes we remember of this site.  John F. Kennedy, the 35th President, clapped his hands twice as John-John came running to him.  He appeared to transform into Jack or Dad as he swept his little toddler up into his arms and gave him a twirl.  Behind him his brother, his Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy, whose children came running to him, suddenly Bobby.  Behind him yet Sargent Shriver, Jack’s brother-in-law and the founder and first director of the Peace Corp.  More children running in his direction.  I had to pinch myself as I turned toward the yard to see the same great lawn where this had occurred some fifty years before, the flag flapping diligently in the wind on the flag pole in the circle that we all know so well.

Our hosts, Ted Jr. and his wife Kiki, live in Connecticut.  Hence the fundraiser.  Ted was doing his part as the next generation to support the party.  They were not just being dutiful Democrats though.  They were tremendously gracious and generous to share their home and many wonderful memories with us.  Ted (yeah, he told me to call him that) lead two separate tours around the grounds. He opened up with darling stories and sweet memories.  He shared with us his son, Ted III and his daughter, Kiley.  They shared their stories as the next next generation.  Ted had mentioned that perhaps Ethel would come out to say hello.  Kiki welcomed us into their home; the home that Jack and Jackie had owned and summered in; the house where the hard line to the Kremlin had been wired.  What a thrill! 

While on our tour we were welcomed to go down to the beach over the dunes and steal some seashells (which we dutifully did) and enjoy the view.  On our return from the beach, my partner in crime, Tom McCarthy, was trying to get a picture of himself at the old house (Joe & Rose’s original home).  I was photographer and he, subject.  He kept inching further and further onto the porch that I believe was supposed to be left unscathed.  I started to break out into a stalker’s sweat.  With this, a group of four rounded the corner and one of the gentlemen asked if I’d like to be in the picture (part of the evidence).  Of course, I did.  “Smile!”  and we did.  When the camera was lowered to assess the image, I realized that taking our picture was not another overwhelmed CT Dem but Mark Shriver. Yup, Mark Shriver. The next twenty minutes were a blur as we spoke of Save the Children and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and how all great roads lead back to Bridgeport, CT.  When it was suggested we should be staying at the compound I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  What a thrill!

Our friends that we had come with, otherwise known as the "Power Couple," Adam and Kerry Wood, never leave well enough alone at a great party.  With wine in hand, we had toured the grounds, wandered through the downstairs of the home and put our toes in sands of their beach.  Kerry took our experience one step further asking Kiki if it would be ok to see the view from their rooftop patio.   And we did.  What a thrill!

Tom McCarthy was right.  Had my mother been alive, I would have gone without hesitation…and I would have brought her along.  She would have loved it. My dad would have too.  What an understatement.  The really amazing thing is they were there with me, my parents, one on each side.   No question.  They escorted me in and throughout.  They were the source as I quietly, so overwhelmed shed tears throughout the occasion.  Thank God for sunglasses and cocktail napkins.

What a thrill!

Ted and Kiki's home.  Originally it was Jack and Jackie's.  Notice the rooftop perch. 

Ted Jr. and daughter Kiley at Joe and Rose's original home.

Great shot of the Compound.

Moi, in the beautiful Talbots tunic, Tom McCarthy and Mark Shiver in the middle. Don't know who the other people are.

Other houses.  That's where I could have stayed!  Maybe next time.

This is my favorite shot of the original house.

Tom McCarthy, "Power Couple" and moi

Mark Shriver took this picture of us!!! Tom McCarthy and his "Partner in Crime" - moi.

Thank you Susie B for a wonderful post.  It was almost like being there.  Next time - take me.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Preppy Empty Nester
Preppy Empty Nester

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  1. What a great post! So glad she shared her time on the compound with us. I love the Northeast coast!!!

  2. This is so great - I loved seeing this and how wonderful for your friend to experience. Have you read What Remains by Carole Radziwill? If you love the Kennedys it's an interesting look at John Jr.

  3. What a great post. That last picture makes my heart hurt just a little. It is bittersweet, isn't it? xo Diana

  4. Katie,
    what an experience for your friend! The homes and grounds are gorgeous!
    Brings back a lot of "Kennedy" memories.

  5. I would have loved that. What a fun way to see real people at the compound. If those walls could talk....

  6. Wow...what an exciting place to visit. I've seen it from the water many times, but never up close...thanks for the tour!!

  7. Thanks for sharing your friends adventure! How neat to see the place up close, I don't think I realized there were that many homes there? The hydrangea's were gorgeous!

  8. How exciting! I was a Kennedy-campaigning 6 year old in 1960.

  9. We had the opportunity to be there in the early 80's. They have done a lot of work on it since then as it was very tired back then. So happy to see it now. Wonderful, wonderful post.

  10. Oh gosh, how amazing. I feel like I was right there with her :)

  11. What a wonderful experience for your friend! So happy that she shared it with us...the pictures are great! I'm sure it must have felt surreal at times for her. Such a special memory!

  12. I am pea green with envy now, too. WOW! Thank you ladies for sharing, your friend is so lucky! I would go in a heartbeat if I could.

  13. What fun! How exciting to have taken a step back to such a special place and getting to sit where they sat, walk where they walk and drink where they drank (A LOT)! :) Love the simple understated beauty of the homes, especially the original one....sounds like some enchanted evening!

    Thanks for sharing....please next time bring Kate!

  14. I too am into the Kennedy's and the mystic of it all. There are so many interesting things about them. So I REALLY enjoyed this. Can you ever imagine going to this and seeing it? Amazing - thank you. sandie

  15. Politicians are pompous you know what imho but whatever floats your boat.


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