On 1981 Tape, Jackie Kennedy Recalls Life as Fifties Housewife: With Sixty Newlywed Images

A popular image of Jacqueline Kennedy just months after her marriage, as she lights candles for the first dinner party she hosted with her husband, with guests including his U.S. Senate colleague John Sherman Cooper (Kentucky – R). In photographs and a television interview from the fall of 1953 and the spring of 1954, the 24-year old newlywed Mrs. John F. Kennedy seemed to be the quintessentially submissive and serene Fifties Housewife. Jackie Onassis, early 1980s. In 1981, by the time she was a single, working 51 year old editor, Mrs. Onassis felt confident enough to laughingly record on audio tape her uncertainty about hosting her first dinner party as a new wife – a markedly different tone than the formal oral history tape recordings she made two decades before, which were publicly released in 2011. Her actions changed history and she lived more than half her life as the world’s most famous woman, but even the highly individualistic Jackie Onassis was shaped by the societal expectations that defined the different eras that she lived through. Financial anxiety during the Depression was a factor in the divorce of Jackie Kennedy’s parents and may have contributed to her own lifelong worries about it. Despite coming from a family that once held considerable wealth, for example, Jackie’s father took a precipitous income loss during the Great Depression and her rich but tightfisted maternal grandfather frequently reminded his daughter, after her separation, that his support of her and her two daughters could was not conditional on her not returning to Bouvier. Jackie Bouvier with Hoochie a Scottish Terrier, at the height of the Great Depression, 1932. Some biographers have traced her anxiety about living without a large cushion of money to this early period of her life. While the scale of wealth was far vaster than those of average American households, the economic crisis from 1929 to 1938 also similarly affected most of her contemporaries. Arriving in 1949 for a year of her college education and travel in Europe just four years after the end of World War II, Jackie Bouvier’s perspective on military conflict, Cold War communism, refugee relief, and national independence movements were formed as she lived in and explored postwar France, Germany, Austria, England, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Spain, and Holland. As a student in postwar Europe, Jackie Bouvier handwashed her laundry and endured all other deprivations still faced by much

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Categories: The Kennedys

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