June 16, 1994 12:00 PM

Jackie on Rose

“I remember she was so sweet to me, it was my first weekend on the Cape. I was more dressed up than his sisters, and Jack teased me about it, in an affectionate way. He said something like, ‘Where do you think you’re going?’ Rose said, ‘Oh, don’t be mean, dear, she looks lovely.’ I liked her enormously. This woman did everything to put one at ease.”

On JFK and Rose

“My mother asked Mrs. Kennedy to come over to Newport. Jack was 36 at the time and a senator. His mother was coming to have lunch with my mother, and we were going to the beach. Mrs. Kennedy was all dressed up in a beautiful, light blue silk dress and a big hat. Jack had on some undershirt and a pair of bedroom slippers, so she was rather mortified. Anyway it was, I’m sure, one of his least favorite days, with the two mothers sitting there talking about the wedding. So we went swimming. I came out of the water early. It was time to go up for lunch, and Mrs. Kennedy stood on the path, calling to her son. It was just like little ones when they know their mothers are calling. Then he started coming up, saying ‘Yes, Mother.’ ”

On Rose coping with tragedy

“I’ve seen her cry twice. Once I was in her room at the Cape, the other was on [Onassis’s] ship after Mr. Kennedy died. She’d say something and her voice would break a little bit—then she’d grab my hand and say, ‘Nobody’s ever going to feel sorry for me.’ Then she’d put her chin up. She taught me so much.”

On the presidential election

“I had been in my room for days, not getting out of bed. I guess I was just in physical and nervous exhaustion, because the month after John’s birth was just the opposite of recuperation. I missed all the gala things. I always wished I could have participated more in those first shining hours with Jack, but at least I had given him our John, the son he longed for so much.”

On the Inauguration

“Mrs. Eisenhower said to me in the car on the way to the Inauguration that President Eisenhower looked like ‘Paddy the Irishman in his Top Hat. ‘Then she realized she had made a slight gaffe.”

On living in the White House

“What I wanted to do more than anything was to keep my family together. I didn’t want to go down into coal mines or be a symbol of elegance. I just wanted to save some normal life for Jack and the children and for me. My first fight was to fight for a sane life for my babies and their father.”

On memories of Jack

“I think sometimes that time heals things. I can’t remember Jack’s voice exactly anymore. I can’t look at pictures. I don’t have them all around. The house in Hyannis Port is the only house where we really lived, where we had our children, where every little pickle jar I found in some little country lane on the Cape brings back memories. Nothing’s changed since we were in it.”

On Ari Onassis

“Rose was the one who encouraged me, who said ‘he’s a good man’ and ‘don’t worry, dear.’ She’s been so extraordinarily generous…Here I was married to her son and I have these children and she was the one who was saying marry Ari.”

On Jackie

“I’m solitary. I’m rather introverted. I’m really glad my children have a sense of humor—I think I’m a bit irreverent.”

On depression

“I have a tendency to go into a downward spiral of depression or isolation when I’m sad. To go out, to take a walk, to take a swim, that’s very much what the Kennedys do. It’s a salvation, really.”

On privacy

“The world has no right to Jack’s private life with me. I shared all these rooms with him, not with the Book of the Month Club readers, and I don’t want them shopping through those rooms now.”

On her place in history

“So many people hit the White House with their dictaphone running…. I never even kept a journal. I thought, ‘I want to live my life, not record it.’ ”

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