Mimi Alford’s “Once Upon a Secret” — JFK and His Mistress

 

I was in Mike Company at Navy OCS in Newport, RI, when I heard the news of Kennedy’s assassination.  Mike Company was about to march somewhere.  Mimi Alford was in a car with her fiance headed off to visit her parents in New Jersey.  Astonishment, grief, but most of all, profound isolation struck her.  She had no one to share her grief with.

Alford and I were just about the same age.  She had gone to Miss. Porter’s finishing school and Wheaton College.  Being of Social Register ilk Mimi was a debutante.  The only commonality might have been our growing up in a large house in the country and a private childhood.  Her family like mine was comfortable, but not rich.  My stepmother would have given one of her appendages to be listed in the Social Register. Mimi became a White House intern.  I worked in a German tire factory, bummed around Europe and went to sea.

My wife read Mimi’s confession first and peeked my interest.  What affected me most was  a renewed perception of how naive I was in the those years. This is no chick beach read.  A child of the sophisticated Eastern culture, Mimi was a virgin.  Think Hayley Mills here. Thanks to the vulgarities of boy talk in a rural, country school, I heard the smut that passed for sex education in those days;  but I was a virgin, too.  To listen to the boys, I was the only one who wasn’t “gettin’ any.”  Truth is, most of us were not, even up in the hay mow.   The guys really were most excited about basketball.  The so-called liberation of the Sixties really did not happen until the Seventies — perhaps after Kent State when America lost another kind of virginity.

From the time JFK pushed her down on that White House bed until she refused oral sex with brother Ted Kennedy, Mimi complied with the activities, captivated by the President’s bewitching charisma and the passing scene of high level politics. White House buzz entranced the coed. Mimi was a voyeur, albeit a sweet one, of Camelot.  Sadly she passed too much time playing the “Waiting Game” in lonely hotel rooms waiting for her prince.  It strikes me as sad, pathetic. Without the setting and mystique of the Kennedy era, the tale would have been just a tale of sex addiction and victimization.  Kennedy, of course, was bigger than life; or was he?

I am still thinking about my experience of Alford’s tale, of youth and folly.  This is no chick read.  It is absolutely true  —  most of us have no idea when we are young, how to handle what is thrust upon us.  Perhaps that’s why age and wisdom, if we’re lucky and eventually mindful, brings a sense of acceptance, resignation and rather joyful peace.  Mimi says she has all three.

Steadfast and cautious,

David Milliken

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Theodore Roosevelt on the Issues of 2012

“. . . We must have complete and effective publicity of corporate affairs, so that the people may know beyond peradventure whether the corporations obey the law and whether their management entitles them to the confidence of the public. It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs . . . ”

via New Nationalism Speech by Theodore Roosevelt.  This is a long speech by Theodore Roosevelt and written in a time before sound bites and ersatz opinion making.  My time was well repaid in the reading of it.  I hope yours will be, too.

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Civility, the Tortoise, Rush Limbaugh and Reason

In my world there’s a kind of unrefined, unconscious, bestial civility. We critters don’t call it that, but being a tortoise  I can’t even go to college, let alone be uncivil to people who do.  And Tortoises can’t go around calling young, decent females sluts and prostitutes. Females are too important to us. However, Rush Limbaugh lacks the basic species loyalty of reptiles.  In truth I wonder if the average tortoise doesn’t treat his fellow creatures better than some humans treat each other. Nature in the balance, even in the raw,  takes care of issues like too many beasts reproducing so that life becomes unfit for all.  You have too many uncivil talk show hosts.

Truth is, beasts are not savage like Rush.   His crude behavior has been absolutely vicious.  He growls and his jaws foam with saliva. You humans really ought to call his behavior evil.  Evil seems to have a meaning in your world.  We don’t have such a word in ours.  For certain he’s the type of human who  makes life unhappy though — and all for celebrity.   Geez, what a joy stealer. Tortoises don’t need celebrity.  Be happy, Rush, you’re worth millions.

As a tortoise I know my place in the scheme of things and that knowledge gives me peace and humility.  I’m not ashamed to hang back and hide when danger approaches — not because chelonians are cowards but because we want to live into tomorrow to fulfill our natural function like leaf control.  That’s why we’re here, you know.  We know our purpose.  You folks have got some vegetative life to control  — a large orotund one in particular.  Teleologically the man manifests no reason to be in the world.  I can discern no purpose for him in natural processes.

In short we tortoises know our place in the great chain of being.  Rush doesn’t. He fell off the chain. That’s okay, though,  he was the last on the chain.  Unlike many humans we don’t try to be humans as humans try to be gods. We know our place.  We don’t interfere with the mating habits and instincts of horses and cows.  They do their thing and we do ours.  And so far as genetic engineering goes, you humans have had no moral, spiritual or moral dilemma in making pork lean and getting more white meat out of the turkeys.  Tinkering with yourselves was inevitable. What’s your problem?

What’s your beef with birth control, Rush? Don’t be hypocritical.  You humans fool with Nature every day.  Luckily we reptiles have escaped your penchant for hybridization. The snakes scare you and turtles don’t need to be purebred — unlike a lot of talk show hosts.  They have  negative traits that could be bred out of them. What’s a little more animal control, huh?  We could certainly do with fewer of you.  Science  gave humans the pill and God gave humans science.   A lot of human women have been smart to take them.

But back to civility, we tortoises are very “civil” thanks to Natural determinations which we can’t change. We crawl about, have sex with each other and lay our eggs. Sometimes we produce more eggs than at other times  — because Nature knows some danger to us is afoot, even a change in the climate.  Don’t  you know that Nature takes care of you humans in that way, too?  But you have to pay attention — at least as much as the woolly worm.   Have a little faith, Rush, that God works through science.

Nature provides for you as it does for turtles and tortoises.  So, we don’t try to control our egg production.  Even for us it is a very catholic principle.  On the other hand, we’re not overpopulating the world — especially with talk show hosts who slither beneath the slimiest of snakes.

And also we don’t require 80 bizillion hours of loan-financed education before our lives get started.  You folks do.  So you have to put off a family until you can afford one.  You have to postpone procreation, perhaps until after law school, but enough of you do get around to it.  Fine, what’s the flap?  Given the shape of your economy, I think you have plenty to worry about before you fret over what happens in a woman’s sex life.  More often than not, it’s about health.

So, I figure that humans should be  doing what you need to do to survive like caring for the health of your species.  A lot of your preoccupation has  nothing remotely to do with survival.  Consider the tortoise and the lily.  Go and happily empty your wastebasket.  Be civil about it, too. Try to be reasonable with each other.  Reason is why you are allegedly “better” than snakes — or so I hear.

Steadfast and cautious,

D. Taylor Tortoise

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