Category Archives: Remembering the Sixties

Complexities in Camelot

by admin

I grew up accepting that Lee Harvey Oswald destroyed America’s version of the Camelot fairy tale. As a kid aged twelve, and like most people, I believed President Johnson when he told us that a crazy man took down our hero.

I sure didn’t want to hear or have to face that my government might have lied and tricked us. But it’s either that or Oswald did it; right?

Complexities

Delay Plaza 1963In my novel, a CIA operative just happens to be a witness in Dealey Plaza that fateful Friday. That’s the overriding complication in my story. He becomes a mistaken target in a covert operation that has been tasked with hastily scrubbing prosecutorial clues, evidence, and persons-of-interest.

The book and my CIA guy are fiction, but that operation really happened and we still don’t know who was behind it or why they felt such extreme measures were necessary.

Alas, historians, scholars, and researchers can only suppose. The paths backward are thoroughly fouled. Fifty years ago somebody determined it is best if we, the public, never understand why JFK died, or by whose hand. A lifetime of controversy launched when Jack Ruby stepped up and shot Lee Oswald in the gut.

Many people who might have provided obscure links to the truth are dead. These were “mysterious” deaths of timing that are mathematically impossible as coincidence. In the national archives, documented evidence that has been saved is deeply vaulted, and redacted, and release is routinely challenged.

I, personally, can no longer accept that Oswald was a lone gunman. And frankly I’m astonished that any intelligent researcher can stand up and say it happened that way. But then I stop to consider…how do we live with the knowledge of our own government participating in, perhaps even facilitating a deadly cover up?703px-WarrenReport-cover1

It’s a very complicated case, made more so by those who cling to the Warren Report. Those voices seriously want it behind us. I get that part too.

The Man Had Enemies

John F. Kennedy had a remarkable talent for tuning into “the people’s will.” He and Ted Sorensen were a brilliant speech crafting team.  Wow; those speeches still stir passion for America in me.

But the President’s popularity with citizens, which usually translated into popular vote, just made his enemies smolder.

Mobsters swore to ruin him. They had betrayal issues over the 1960 election, Cuba, and young Attorney General RFK’s relentless prosecution of key bosses.

JFK’s own Intelligence and Military leaders baited him and called him soft. They laughed because he actually thought he was the boss of things. CIA leadership, often bitterly, brazenly challenging their Commander in Chief, resented his determination to limit their power. Besides that he was not of their Yalie, Skull and Bones crowd.

But the smoke and mirrors act didn’t fool Jack Kennedy. The agency going inward, uniting to oppose him, caused him to swear he’d completely repurpose the organization. After the Bay of Pigs, he fired the CIA chief and first lieutenant, and some say that was the moment President Kennedy became a marked man.

johnson-kennedy-37And then there’s LBJ.

According to Lyndon Baines Johnson, the fast-talking, Yankee Kennedy brothers humiliated him in a million ways. As reelection neared, U.S. Attorney General RFK was pressing to investigate LBJ’s most serious misdeeds while in office, going back to his first Senate win, and including some literal skeletons. The maneuver harkened political death for LBJ.

Kennedy’s inner circle reports he didn’t plan for LBJ to be his running mate in ’64. The ultimate insult.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was the one who stood to gain the most with Kennedy dead.

And LBJ’s old buddy, J. Edgar Hoover? The notorious FBI chief was the second lucky benefactor following the assassination. Friction between the untouchable FBI and the brothers in the White House was legendary. Jack and Bobby knew the time for Hoover’s methods had passed. There was talk that Hoover would be retired next term.

Camelot.magicbullet

This is just the short list.

Obviously John Fitzgerald Kennedy had more than the average guy’s share of people wanting him dead. Ruthless sorts gunned for him personally, too. It’s widely said that he slept around. What if it was just a pissed off husband?

Hell, a crazy pretend-socialist could have offed him.

But in these days of CSI-type of advanced forensics, it is abundantly clear the official story of a single gunman and a pristine bullet just doesn’t hold water.

Up next: Why NOT Oswald?


One Brief Shining Moment

by admin

I’m making this a three-part series about Camelot myth vs history. In smaller doses.

~  from the 1960 Broadway musical, CAMELOT, by Jay Lerner

Camelot4

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Don’t let it be forgot

 

 

 

That once there was a spot

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 For one brief shining moment

Camelot5 That was known as Camelot!

One Brief Shining Moment

Just look at these photographs. How could this kind of glamor, intelligence and culture in our White House not inspire comparison to Camelot?

It was a controversial administration in a turbulent time, and nobody called it Camelot until President Kennedy was dead.

Soon after that awful day in Dallas, his grieving widow collected herself enough to direct a legacy. From backward boots on the saddle of a riderless horse in the funeral procession, to an interview one rainy night at the family compound in Hyannisport, Mrs. Kennedy intended that we all remember John F. Kennedy as a tragically fallen hero, and forever dream what might have been.

I found the original magazine issue on eBay and scanned the article to share: http://adriennelacava.com/americas-camelot/

kennedy-caroline-john-jr-southlawnI was eleven years old when this tantalizing myth not of King Arthur’s Court gained legs. Guinevere had always been my go-to character when playing pretend as a child so I bought it, and I remain enamored by glamorous images and wonderings of what might have been.

Research work for my novel, No One Can Know led me to examine history alongside the mythology.

Strength but non-aggression

The political landscape of 1963 America was deeply divided. A bellicose Congress perceived JFK as weak. They knew he supported a globally superior defense structure, but disfavored aggression by our military.

JFK was a decorated naval officer in World War II, so he came to office as an informed warrior… and a brand new father.

Mrs. Kennedy said he had an epiphany during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. He just couldn’t stomach the idea of children as collateral damage.

CAMELOT.JFKpt

The depth of harm in war looked different to him as a father, and he challenged the aggressive posture of his Joint Chiefs. About one conflict in particular he’d weighed carefully and decided. America would not send soldiers to Vietnam.

Kennedy had a change of heart, but the military industrial machine had already achieved unstoppable momentum. Many believe this is why he became a marked man.

Romanticism

I try not to idolize, but because I study these books and speeches, it’s not easy. John F. Kennedy was an admirable public servant. His election as a Catholic sparked new tolerance, and initiatives like Civil Rights, the Peace Corps, and NASA brought us into his vision of New Frontiers—that would lead us away from aggression, toward prosperity, and global leadership of the good kind.

JFK-Jr-with-dad-JFK-SrHe was witty, intelligent, and strong. He clearly loved his children, and watching him through adolescent eyes, I remember feeling safe and somehow, understood.

Mrs. Kennedy was devoted to her role as well. During their administration, she was sometimes criticized in the press and as a schoolgirl, I remember being drawn in by those controversies… and coming away enlightened about culture and sophistication and the arts.

Lady Bird had HUGE shoes to fill, and not just because Jackie wore size 10.

Next up, I’ll opine about some of the complexities impacting the Kennedy White House. 


JFK: Do You Still Wonder Too?

by admin

johnson-kennedy-37by Adrienne LaCava

I am of the Baby Boomer generation. Born, in fact, the same year the National Security Agency was formed, and Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised on television.

Our parents had suffered bloody wars for our freedom and taught us we were lucky to be American. Boomer children were conditioned to believe that they could do anything. We set out to change the world… via peace, love, and understanding.

New Frontiers

Borrowing from Jacqueline Kennedy’s Camelot myth, we got ourselves a strong young King, who made beautiful children with his glamorous Queen, and promised to lead us to prosperity through strong defense and non-aggression.

The establishment, the old guard, on the other hand, saw us as out of control, willful children who were too nosy for our own good. They’d concluded that there were some things in government we just didn’t need to know, for our own good.Obama A New Camelot

A Culture of Secrecy

That was my culture growing up, and so I’ve always been suspicious of so-called “necessary secrets.”

You know, the kind devised and perpetuated by leadership, “for the good of us all.”

Yes, some measure of that is necessary; we live in dangerous times. I’d rather not know, for instance, if a warhead is traveling toward my neighborhood, and there’s zero chance of escape or survival; just let me tootle in my garden to the end.

By November 1963, however, political assassination and cover-ups of truth seemed to be absorbed and accepted as the modern conduct of government, in the interest of national security.

A-Bombs in our glorious Oceans were accepted. And for several years, the American military kept B-52’s in the air 24/7, armed with tons of nuclear bombs… just in case.

Nobody messed with America

This kind of retro thinking influenced the setting of my novel, No One Can Know. But before I could write it, I had to examine the myths around Kennedy, particularly his assassination in my hometown.

I thought I’d make use of the twenty-twenty hindsight that being a grownup afforded me. Wrong.

Opening that particular can of “necessary secret” worms blew me away.

BLOWING UP PARADISEResearching Kennedy

First, the sheer number of avenues to explore was staggering. Before this anniversary year, there were roughly 1,400, gulp, nonfiction books on the John F. Kennedy assassination, ranging in value from thoughtful and scholarly, to rants of paranoid delusion.

But hey, I told myself, you could have picked Abraham Lincoln at a whopping 3,300 titles.

Google gave me 5M hits when I searched “JFK Assassination.”

So, I went in search of trustworthy sources for my research. For a piece of fiction, the research function is not very academic; I use the history books for conceptual ideas, or to add credible strength to my story… or to discover factoid gems. Lots of skimming and caption reading is involved

But my goal is to inform, within the context of my fiction, so reliable information is vital.

Librarians are wonderful and they were my initial guides to books and websites to study the subject. I was totally daunted at first, but quickly enamored with the still riveting mystery of his death.

Myth busting

Camelot.kids

I am not a historian, or conspiracy theorist, but early on in my research, I could grasp why that awful day still haunts us.

Even as a girl of ten, I remember the pervasive sense of hope that radiated from the First Family in our White House, and that was in rural Texas where, according to old news clips, we hated him.

Because of the media, I didn’t know any better, and I grew up believing that a crazy man named Oswald shot him dead. President Johnson and the news people said so.

Now, it’s astonishing when I still hear, “There’s no proof Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy.” Authors who present that argument, IMHO, are employing those dreaded smoke and mirrors. But I think what they want to say is that there is no prosecutorial evidence to redirect the finger of blame elsewhere.

There is no proof that Oswald shot a rifle that day, either. Nitrate tests produced zero residue on his cheek.

So I guess there are voices out there that still just want it over, much like the voices that still just want the truth.

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No One Can Know

Thanks to a massive post-assassination effort designed to assure there is never a prosecutorial leg to stand on, Oswald was just one of the first convenient disposals of a dupe, or a document that might have strengthened a prosecutor’s case. Classic misinformation, and it continues.

Today, even as more archives become available, questions keep mounting. But answers that bubble up can’t get beyond supposition, because trails to proving who, or why, are so thoroughly and intentionally fouled. Clear answers are an impossible task.

It IS clear to most researchers that our government participated in covering up the truth, even if they didn’t kill JFK. But why?

Effort to keep the public from asking too many questions was, and is, an immense, strenuous, and expensive undertaking. Not to mention deadly. Disputes still erupt every week in D.C. over the release of classified documents and information about the crime.

Our identity

The status of “never knowing” must feel like supreme agony by those affected. Remember the milk box children of the 1980s? Seeking answers; raising awareness of genuine monsters lurking… Dear God, we all think when faced with examples, how do you live with that?

milk box children

That question turned my research inward. The impact on our national psyche, our collective identity of never being allowed to face the forces that stole our innocence. It definitely influenced my novel.

Do you still wonder why, in this CSI world of today, we can’t put the matter of JFK’s assassination to bed?

IMHO, the lack of answers should not die quietly with the population who lived it.

And just maybe the truth—no matter how hard or ugly it is to accept—will heal something.


Tour With Me Through Camelot?

by admin


Lady of the Castle
I struggle with writing blog posts. Probably because I’m new to the practice, and the old what-do-I-have-to-say question inspires unreasonable fear. It’s not until I get inside my chatty girlfriend head that words and intention come through.

So when the marketing pros behind the release of No One Can Know insisted on several guest blogs in the press kit, well, let’s just say chatty girlfriend got bashful facing strangers. She froze up. Literally.

“These are not sales pitches,” my publicist coached. “It’s relationship building. Reaching out to people who already know you have something to sell, feeding their interest in behind-the-scenes insights, or opinions, or personal stories. Maybe even outtakes.”

It is a gift of our times, I think, the notion of an author having a routine dialog with readers. Thanks to Internet geniuses we have abundant, easy methods for exchanging ideas and knowledge. But for me to get over the pressure hump, I needed a topic that re-inspired chatty girlfriend.

I Wanted to Be Guinevere

So I revisited trustworthy how-to-blog masters, refreshed and backtracked, experimented and bounced off a few reliable minds — and lo, alit in Camelot.

The Kennedys

That mythical spin is the addictive part of Kennedy-bilia for me and I admit to being a Camelot junkie. Kings and queens, castles and knights have held my imagination since playing pretend in grade school.

Comparison of the Kennedy White House to the mythical world of Camelot didn’t happen until after President Kennedy was dead. His grieving widow, Jacqueline, planted the image of fallen hero in our hearts and minds through the words and imagery she used in an interview.

When the interview was published, most Americans either believed a crazy communist sympathizer killed JFK, or still believed answers would be revealed. Mrs. Kennedy intended that we, like her, would always think of what might have been.

Paradise Found

President and Mrs. Kennedy inspired classy standards of style. They were glamorous and romantic, of the privileged upper class, and committed to serving the public. Jack was a decorated war hero; Jackie was a brand new mom.

At the time of their rise, America was filled with earnest hope for, and belief in, peaceful prosperity. We’d had our fill of war, of proving our might to the enemies.

Absorption of that attitude from our parents, BTW, is why we Baby Boomers set out to change the world — through peace, love, and understanding.

Camelot mom

President Kennedy had enemies both inside his administration and at large. His cabinet, his Joint Chiefs, his Intelligence divisions, and his Congress all wanted to build on our global dominance, and expected to maintain a thriving economy around the manufacturing of arms.

Kennedy met the insistence to continue development and manufacture of weapons by allowing the sale of arms to other warring nations.

He declared the end of nuclear testing, then balanced it with the intention to put a man on the moon, thereby pointing our talent, resources, and economy at the heavens. I love that part.

His Peace Corps initiative sent humanity and support into poverty stricken lands around our planet, while he quietly negotiated with Russian president Khrushchev about settling the Cold War and the Vietnam conflict.

He recognized the nation was at odds, and took a stand on the ideals of civil, human rights.

He wasn’t perfect, but the man had good ideas about the future of America. The trouble was, while citizens adored him and believed in him, the Military-Industrial Complex had momentum on their side.

Paradise Lost

When he declared an intention to seek a state of world peace, starting at home, his internal enemies were incensed.

Douglass coverThose are highlights of the near “perfect storm” conditions that existed when Air Force One set down in Dallas on November 22, 1963, according to James Douglass in his book, JFK and the Unspeakable.

Douglass paints a riveting picture of the largest answers to questions of why. Yet even with fifty years’ worth of amazing technological advancements, we still do not know exactly how our president died, or by whom.

For instance, we know now Oswald had been administered a paraffin test and his cheek had zero nitrate residues. It’s debatable evidence, but indicates that Lee Harvey Oswald hadn’t fired a rifle within twenty-four hours of the president’s death.

Still, the public is systematically kept from the bare bones truth despite constant Freedom of Information Act lawsuits on behalf of researchers and historians trying to obtain archived information.

More is lost than will ever be recovered. More is held back than is ever revealed. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but wonder why?

The answer to that “why?” must be utterly unspeakable, as Mr. Douglass says, not fit for public consumption in any form.

We’ve got plenty of evidence today that high-level deceit occurred over and over. Throughout government, a decision was handed down that no one can know, and enough went awry in Dallas to inspire leadership to layer on the smoke and mirrors, scrub away all signs of — whatever is so horrible that lies are better.

The topic of our fallen king has been deemed a necessary secret, “for our own good.”

Circling Back to Camelot

Sadly, we don’t live in a mythical land. There are no fairy tale endings here. Way too many troublesome questions remain for the story to end.

legendary and famous sword Excalibur to King stuck between the r

Do you suppose Mrs. Kennedy might have known the truth, and tried to sweeten our dose of “the unspeakable” through the Camelot spin?

Do you ever wonder what this horribly unpalatable “thing” looks like? I mean, what if… members of our own government iced the president? Or (gasp!) what if it was the sitting President, LBJ?

Exactly.

That’s only two terrifying possibilities.

Whatever it is, do you think knowing the truth would only open a more destructive can of worms?

Or is there a chance it might heal something that lies wounded near the heart of America’s current infighting and (seemingly) irreconcilable differences?

I personally think we’re too advanced as a species, as a nation, to not forge ahead in a united quest for truth. But we must be civil adults, prepared to handle it as a united people. Can we do that?

I’ve researched the mystery of JFK’s assassination for almost six years, and I’ve watched it develop for a lifetime.

While I must be objective in conclusions drawn, my personal frame of reference on the topic has evolved to that tragic sense of lost hope. I look at the topic now through the dark shades of innocence stolen, of what might have been.

So, the premise of Camelot opens up several avenues on which to share the more glamorous parts of my job, this sixties world I inhabit through books, archives and images. After all, blogs are intended to be opinions — and a premise that engages.

Like conversation at a party! I can do that.

My series of guest posts will follow, and you guys will notice some repetition, but I hope you’ll ride along, and converse with me.

 


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