Wednesday, May 29, 2013


May 29, 2013


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy celebrated his 46th and last birthday of his life 50 years ago today, May 29, 1963, at the White House.

The President was greeted by his staff with a surprise party and birthday cake in the White House Navy Mess Hall.

Among the gifts President Kennedy received was a SHILLELAGH or wooden walking stick and club made from a knotty stick with a large knob at the top.

This type of stick was used in Ireland by "gentlemen" to settle disputes.

                         JFK Arriving at his
                   Surprise Birthday Party
                              May 29, 1963
                        JFK Library Photo

In the evening, the President, along with 20 close friends and associates, continued the birthday celebration aboard the presidential yacht Sequoia.

Terry Golway and Les Krantz write in JFK Day By Day that...

"Guests enjoyed a feast of crabmeat ravigotte, roast beef, and asparagus hollandaise.  The dessert, a special creation for the event, was Bombe President with chocolate sauce. Guests toasted the President's health with glasses of 1955 Cuvee Dom Perignon."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 2nd child of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., was born on May 29, 1917 at the family home at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts.

JFK was named after his maternal grandfather, John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, the former mayor of Boston but became known to family and friends as Jack.

                         Baby Jack Kennedy
                             6 months old
                JFK Birthplace Historic Site

Jack's older brother, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. was called "Joe Jr".

              Brothers Jack and Joe Jr.
              Brookline, Massachusetts

Jack Kennedy was born at 3 in the afternoon in the 2nd floor master bedroom.  

Rose Kennedy said that he was born in the twin bed nearest the window "so the doctor would have a good light."

               John F. Kennedy Birthplace
                     National Historic Site
              National Park Service Photo

The family obstetrician who delivered Jack, and who delivered every child born to Rose and Joe Kennedy, was Dr. Frederick Good.

At the time of Jack's birth, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., 28 years old, was president of Columbia Trust Bank in East Boston.  

Both parents were descendants of Irish immigrants and John F. Kennedy would become the first Irish-American President of the United States.

The Kennedys had lived at 83 Beals Street since their marriage in 1914.  The house, built in 1909,  cost $6500.

Rose Kennedy said she loved the "space and air" of the community.

Jack Kennedy was christened on June 19, 1917 at nearby St. Aidan's Catholic Church. He lived in the Brookline community until 1927 when the family moved to Riverdale, New York.  


"Intimately modest and furnished in original Kennedy family heirlooms and period reproductions," the house in which the future 35th President of the United States was born, "conveys a sense of familiarity."

                  Phone in the hallway

"The beds are covered with Irish linen bedspreads embroidered with thistles, shamrocks and other Irish symbols.

Mrs. Rose Kennedy, who conducts visitors through the home by way of a recorded tape, says:

'We were happy here, and although we did not know about the days ahead, we were enthusiastic and optimistic about the future.'"


"The Kennedys of Beals Street," by Tony Fusco, Collectibles Illustrated, November/December 1983.

                Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy 
     Speaks at JFK Birthplace Dedication 
      National Park Service Photo (1969)


When we visited the JFK Birthplace for the 1st time in July 1986, the admission fee was 50 cents and there was one NPS ranger there to greet you.

I had my new JVC VHS-C color camcorder with me and asked if I would be able to use it in the home.  The ranger said it would be fine.  This is no longer true today as there is a restriction on the use of cameras.

I still have the original video tape today but also have converted it to DVD for better preservation.  I was able to get all of the rooms on the tape while the voice of Ms. Rose Kennedy is in the background.

You can go to the National Park Service website and take an on-line virtual tour.  

Amazingly, it is the exact same audio that I recorded on my JVC in 1986.