On Tour with Jackie Kennedy: The Communists, the Queen and The Bomb (Part 2)

Jackie Kennedy, Jet-Setting Diplomat of 1961

Unsure what to make of the mass hysteria about her which she’d set off in Paris, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arrived with the President in Vienna on June 3 intending to keep a lower profile. Surpassing her intentions to impress de Gaulle and generate goodwill towards the U.S., she also saw how easily her phenomena could eclipse coverage about the sober Cold War business being conducted by her husband – the very reason for the tour.

Mrs. Kennedy takes in the formal dressage performance of the famous Lipizzan horses at Vienna’s Spanish Riding School.

As passionate about dogs and horses as she was about art and history, her one great intention in Vienna was to see the famous Spanish Riding School where Lippizzan horse stallions train and perform, and meet some of the four-legged fellows.

Mrs. Kennedy watches the stallions perform at the Spanish Riding School.

Successfully evading crowds, she slipped away with the American Ambassador’s wife to lunch at Kerzen Stuebl on a discreet and narrow street. A deliriously surprised patron immediately blabbed about seeing Jackie the second she left the restaurant and word spread through the city fast. Within an hour a crowd estimated at four hundred blocked the sidewalk, pressing their noses against the window, murmuring about what she was might be eating, growing restless. Soon car horns were blasting. The crowd had grown, spilling into the cobblestone street, blocking cars on it which backed up and caused a traffic jam extending to the main avenue. The usually calm maitre d’hotel was in a dither and finally began emerging with reports on her courses, finally announcing, “They have now come to the dessert!” Rather than quell the Viennese, this bulletin set them into frenzy, being proudest of their legendary desserts. Emergency police squads appeared, locking arms to create a barricade and push the people back. For the record, the restaurant offered a last report, that Jackie had eaten every last bite of her meringue shell and raspberry liqueur whipped cream filling.

She went on to a porcelain factory to meet the mayor and accept a red rose bouquet and painted vase but with crowds growing wherever she simply was getting into out of her car, the Person felt shadowed by her now larger-than-life Persona and cancelled a tour of a monastery. Jackie Kennedy wanted to be entirely rested and alert for dinner that night. That afternoon, the President encountered the blunt and resistant Soviet Premier who refused to concede anything on Communist hold of East Berlin. That night, however, was to be Jackie’s first faceoff with “Nikki and Nina,” the Soviet Premier and his wife.

Jackie Kennedy meets Khrushchev in Vienna – and he takes to her instantly.

Jackie launched her own little missile by raising a topic of Soviet space program, a record soon to be surpassed by that of the U.S. Recalled astronaut John Glenn, who would orbit earth three times in 1962, “She’d obviously done a lot of reading about it [the space program] and asked questions…about the controls, how it propelled, was it engineered as an airplane is?” Khrushchev distracted her away from pinning him on specifics about the Soviet program by indulging her known love of dogs. He bragged of the brave mutt Strelka who, after surviving an earlier rocket mission, lived in a such a state of communist compassion that she recently delivered a healthy litter. Jackie threw Nikki a challenge: send her one of these thriving puppies. In fact, he would – along with nine bottles of Soviet perfume. He later wrote, “I liked her very much. She knew how to make jokes and was, as our people say, quick with her tongue. In other words, she had no trouble finding Continue reading →

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Categories: Americana, First Ladies, On Tour with Jackie Kennedy, Presidents, The Kennedys

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