Saturday, January 15, 2011

From the pen of JFK

An unfinished novel by JFK caught my attention when the John F Kennedy Presidential Library this week released an immense collection of digitised archives. In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of his inauguration, the material includes 300 museum artefacts, 300 reels of audio tape, 72 reels of film footage, over 1200 individual recordings of telephone conversations and 1500 photos.
Among the 200,000 pages you can trawl through is this piece of writing by a school boy JFK, included in a letter to his father, Joseph Kennedy Snr. Titled 'A Plea for a Raise' it begins: 
'Chapter One
My recent allowance is 40¢. This I used for aeroplanes and other playthings of childhood but now I am a scout and I put away my childish things. When I am a scout I have to buy canteens, haversacks, blankets, searchlights poncho things that will last for years and I can always use it while I can't use a chocolate marshmallow sunday with vanilla ice cream and so I put in a plea for a raise of thirty cents for me to buy scout things and pay my own way more...'
Hardly Pulitzer Prize material but, as all wannabee writers will appreciate, one must begin somewhere.
Among the more quirky pieces, a congratulatory telegram from Harpo Marx on JFK's 1960 election win, and a crib sheet from a 1963 speech in Berlin with phonetic spelling of Ich bin ein Berliner.
Wow... a head of government with a healthy respect for pronunciation. We in the Antipodes can only wish...

No comments: