Tag: Camelot Myth

Camelot Wannabes by Olivia Baranowski

FireplaceThe story:

My grandparents were engaged November in 1963 and planned to be married the following summer in June of 1964.  My grandmother, Sarah, worked at the Curtis Publishing Company located in Old City and my grandfather, Robert, was a full time graduate student at Temple University.  They first saw the President when he was visiting Philadelphia during those early years in the 1960s.  They waited along Frankford Avenue with friends and cheered and waved American flags as he drove down the avenue in his motorcade.  He was campaigning for his election, the same as he was when he was assassinated.  My grandmother humorously compared the spectacle to the way Philadelphia was when the Pope recently visited back in September.

The day JFK was killed my grandmother was at work and my grandfather was at his parents’ home studying for an exam.  My grandmother and the rest of her coworkers stood around the small black-and-white television in the lobby of the building for what seemed like hours.  Everyone watched the news and no one spoke, she said, everyone was in shock.  My grandfather was listening to the radio while he was studying and the music was interrupted with the announcement, and he gathered his family around the radio to listen to what the radio hosts were reporting.  He recalled feeling confused because the radio hosts didn’t seem to have much information.  Later that evening, my grandmother went over to my grandfather’s house to help him study for his exam, but they couldn’t concentrate on the material.  It was hard for them to fathom what had happened that day.  They said everyone they knew and our family members were in shock.  Temple canceled their classes the next day.

Why They Loved Him:

My grandmother loved fashion.  She had all the big name magazines and was a frequent shopper at her local fabric store where she would buy fabric to make her own dresses and skirts.  She loved Jackie Kennedy.  My grandmother was someone that saw her as a fashion icon.  She loved seeing when new pictures of Jackie were released so she could remake what she was wearing or gain her own inspiration form the images.  My grandmother made a black skirt and black silk camisole when JFK was killed.

Because of the way the Kennedys were portrayed during his presidency, my grandparents thought of them as the perfect family.  They were engaged; they wanted a family to be exactly like the Kennedys.  They were beautiful and healthy and seemed to have had it all.  My grandfather jokingly mentioned how even he was taken back by JFK’s handsome appearance and how much better he looked standing next to Nixon.  This is something that my grandparents look back on fondly; they have said that they didn’t pay attention to scandal news when it came out.

My grandparents wanted to create their own Camelot in their West Philadelphia row home.  It is interesting to hear their story and compare it to the way the Kennedys are viewed today.  They look back with such nostalgia, they think nothing is wrong with the family or listen to the rumors and conspiracy theories.  They take real politics out of the mix and look at the family for what they were, a family.  My grandparents’ memory of the Kennedys today is so pure that I think many people should forget any negative judgement of the family and remember the tragic event that caused a wife to lose her husband and children to lose their father.  In the end, that is what made my grandmother so emotionally upset about the assassination.  My grandparents appreciate the legacy left behind and still honored by the Kennedy family.

Note on Photo: The cross over the fireplace was replaced with this picture of the President during the Camelot era.  Pictured here: my grandmother’s younger sister (my Great Aunt Mary-Anne, dress made by my grandmother) on her way to her high school’s prom, overlooked by JFK.

My Father and the Death of JFK by Oliver Shortridge


qCaptureMy father, Thomas J. Shortridge, was born on March 14, 1947 in Anderson, Indiana. Before he turned twenty, many significant events of this country’s history occurred; America’s first man in space, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the passing of the Civil Rights Act, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy was a major shock to the nation. Seventeen days after the assassination, Kennedy’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy compared the presidency of her late husband to Camelot, a metaphor for the positivity his time in office seemed to generate.[1] My father was only sixteen at the time, a sophomore at Bedford High School in his hometown of Bedford, Indiana. On the afternoon of Friday November 22, 1963, my father was in his history class, when his school’s principal came over the loudspeaker to announce the death of President Kennedy.[2]

sAlmost immediately after announcing the death of the President, cheering could be heard from the more conservative students and faculty. This angered the principal, who returned to the loudspeaker, and admonished the entire school. My father doesn’t quite remember the exact wording the principal used, but they were along the lines of “How dare you! That man was President of the United States and you should be mourning his loss!”[3] Those cheering were quickly silenced by the realization of the seriousness of the situation.

Despite being too young to vote in 1963, at the time, my father identified as a Republican, much like the rest of his family. However, my father was not among those who cheered the death of President Kennedy, rather, he was simply in shock of what had transpired. Additionally, unlike other Republicans in his hometown, my father had a favorable view of Kennedy. In fact, during the 1960 election, my father played a prank on his older brother, in which he put a Kennedy bumper sticker on his brother’s car. His older brother has always been a fairly conservative person politically. Upon seeing the bumper sticker on the back of his car, in my father’s own words, “he was pissed,” and made my father not only remove the sticker, but the adhesive residue it left behind.[4]

As with the rest of the country, the assassination of John F. Kennedy left a lasting impact on my father. Kennedy was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson, who would end up being one of my father’s least favorite presidents. Like the vast majority of his friends and family, my father supported civil rights and approved of President Johnson’s push of the Civil Rights Act. On the other hand, my Johnson’s same determination when it came to the Vietnam War soured my father’s views on him, as many of his friends fought in the war and did not return (my father was exempted due to a heart defect). My father also disliked Johnson’s Vice President, Hubert Humphry, causing him to begrudgingly vote for Richard Nixon in 1968, as he disliked Nixon slightly less prior to Watergate.[5]

tCaptureToday, my father is no longer a Republican, by the end of the 1960s, my father was left with bad taste in his mouth from conservativism in general, that he became a Democrat by the time he left Indiana to attend MIT. In hindsight, my father was never a conservative person, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy was his first step in realizing that.

[1] Brigance, Linda C. “For One Brief Shining Moment: Choosing to Remember Camelot.” Studies in Popular Culture 25, no. 3 (April 2003): 1-12. Accessed March 31, 2016. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23414940.

[2] Shortridge, Thomas J. “Interview of My Father.” Interview by author. March 31, 2016.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis: The Queen of Camelot by Deidre Rowe

The Kennedys may be America’s royal family, but the woman who lies behind myth is Jacqueline Kennedy.JKO

Jackie was born to John Vernou Bouvier III and Janet Norton Lee in July of 1929. She grew in a quite wealthy family due to her father’s career as a stockbroker. She spent a good amount of her childhood in Manhattan and the Hamptons on Long Island at her family’s estate. She later attended Vassar College for two years and spent her junior year in France. Upon coming back to the states, she transferred to George Washington University where she got a Bachelor’s degree in the Arts in French literature. She met her future husband, John Fritzgard Kennedy in May of 1952 at a dinner party.

Jackie was what peanut butter is to jelly to John. These two were the young wealthy family that were starting their married lives in the eye of the political public. But is she the Queen of Camelot? I think that the idea of her queen-like demeanor comes from her poise and elegance. In for “One Brief Shining Moment: Choosing to Remember Camelot,” written by Linda Czuba Brigance, Brigance describes how a Chicago Sun Times article stated that Jackie Onassis was “the closest thing we have to American royalty” (Brigance 6). This speaks to how Americans view royalty. As a young person born way after the Kennedy era in the sixties, I am still shock in how we as people still find Jackie O. to be so amazing. However, as much as I want to be against it, I just can not.

For me she embodies everything that a first lady should be. She was smart, thoughtful, and has a caring glow that surrounded her. On top of that all, she dressed to the nines. The Chanel suit will forever be the “Jackie O” suit. I also think that is why our current first lady sticks out in my mind as well. Michelle Obama is a well educated lady who had the need to “do something” during her time severing as our first lady; just like Jackie O.


Britannica Academic, s. v. “Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis,” accessed March 31, 2016, http://academic.eb.com/EBchecked/topic/428919/Jacqueline-Kennedy-Onassis.

Brigance, Linda Czuba. 2003. “For One Brief Shining Moment: Choosing to Remember Camelot”. Studies in Popular Culture 25 (3). Popular Culture Association in the South: 1–12. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23414940.

JFK and Camelot by Bryant Harris

ST-C209-1-62                                      4 July 1962 Address at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, 11:42AM Please credit "Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston"
ST-C209-1-62 4 July 1962; Address at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, 11:42AM
Photo credit “Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston”

John F. Kennedy is one of the most profiled figures in American history. The democratic president was in control of the country during some of the most stress-inducing periods in the history of the United States. Amid domestic issues such as tensions of racial injustice to foreign conflicts like threats of nuclear warfare from the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy’s presidency was certainly one for the ages. The youngest elected president (at age 43) had captured the charm of Americans with his distinct voice, savvy speeches and presentation of the beautiful first family. However, nearly three years after being sworn into office, JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Texas as he sat alongside his wife, Jacqueline, in his motorcade as they drove past Dealey Plaza. November 22, 1963 will forever be remembered as the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. In other words, that day would also be remembered as the day that the American people lost their “Camelot.”


Now, you’re probably wondering how a former president of the United States can be compared to the story of King Arthur and his dreams of a “utopian kingdom.” First of all, the story of Camelot was of King Arthur’s vision of ruling his kingdom free of violence and despair and relying on the virtues of equality and perfection to ensure better living qualities for the people of Camelot (Brigance 3).  Linda Brigance wrote in her article, For One Brief Shining Moment: Choosing to Remember Camelot, about the myth of the icon JFK and how it is perpetuated by those who remember him as much as what he did while he was alive. Following his assassination, the nation was in shock over losing not only a powerful figure but also a man who they believed was their saving grace for the future. Brigance states, “The Camelot myth and its identification with Old World notions of royal lineage had just the script Americans needed,” (Brigance 5). Basically, by focusing on the great things that made the people have faith in Kennedy and honoring him as if he were royalty, Americans’ fear in the wake of the assassination could slowly fade away. Brigance also mentions how subsequent members of the Kennedy family like Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy were seen as the heirs to the “throne” of JFK and to also further the legacy of Camelot (Brigance 6).

However, it mostly seems as though the adoption of Camelot with his association with the Kennedy family was more of a product of Americans suppressing the negativity of Kennedy’s assassination while living in a new kind of world after November 22, 1963. The story of Camelot is a nice way to immortalize and iconize John Kennedy. Amid the chaos of the remainder of the 1960s, America had changed. The people’s perspective had changed. Their only saving grace after JFK was assassinated was the memory of what he did.

Source: Brigance, Linda Czuba. “For One Brief Shining Moment: Choosing to Remember Camelot”. Studies in Popular Culture 25.3 (2003): 1–12. Web.