The Early Years
Growing Up >
|Jackie excelled at Vassar College, but went through great pains to be able to study in Paris during her junior year. Away from home and society expectations, she wrote of her year in Europe:
“I loved it more than any year of my life. Being away from home gave me a chance to look at myself with a jaundiced eye. I learned not to be ashamed of a real hunger for knowledge, something I had always tried to hide…”
She studied French Literature at the Sorbonne and spent as much time as possible exploring her roots in France. In addition to her course work, the industrious Jackie took a course in diplomacy at the Ecole de Science Politique.
Certainly, this new interest in diplomacy and governance influenced her decision to transfer to George Washington University her senior year. She wanted to be at the heart of public service for her nation, but it is doubtful that even Jackie could have predicted the role she would play in her adoptive city.
After graduating from the University, Jackie was ardent about earning her own living. She loved to write and approached the Washington Times-Herald. Although she was prepared to fill the newly vacant position of “Inquiring Camera-girl,” her bosses assumed Jackie was a sheltered socialite and were doubtful that she could handle the job. She would prove them wrong and grew a column into one of the paper’s most popular features. As Inquiring Camera-girl, Jackie would approach citizens of all stripes: senators, congressmen, pages, college boys, and housewives – and ask them a thoughtful question. She seemed to get a kick out of asking most startling or controversial questions.
Some of the questions she asked around Washington:
Increasingly, Jackie became more and more interested in politics. She poured over journals and newspapers and became an authority on the political scene in Washington. Surely, it would pique her interest to meet a bright and handsome congressman from Massachusetts.
Since her final year at college, Jackie had been dating John Husted, a banker from New York and accepted his proposal of marriage. However, she realized she may have been overly influenced by her mother’s desperate wish for Jackie to marry a wealthy man. Jackie did not want to marry Mr. Husted and needed more independence and more time… to see more of the world and meet the extraordinary man whom she “could not live without”.
Previously, mutual friends Charles and Martha Bartlett had introduced Jackie and John F. Kennedy thinking they were perfect for each other. Jack was certainly fascinated by Jackie, but Jackie remained reserved out of respect for her then-boyfriend John Husted. When the Bartlett’s heard that the engagement was off, they feverishly began what Jackie would call “shameless, match-making”. Destined to reunite, Jack and Jackie would eventually find themselves invited to an intimate dinner at the Bartlett’s home, where they embarked on one of America’s greatest love stories.
Jack was a startling handsome man with a ceiling to service and a great vision for his nation and his entire world. In Jackie, he saw a woman completely different from the many girls he dated. She was more intellectual, more literary and more beautiful than the others. He saw a woman of great substance and depth of feeling with an appreciation for life that they completely shared. Jackie discovered she found a man who also wanted something more than just wealth and comfort. He sought to better the world he lived in. Jackie had met the man that she could not live without, and she knew she would be his partner in life and in politics.