NPS John F. Kennedy NHS
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  • 509. Ranger Jason House Tour: Kitchen

    If needed, scroll down for a written script of the audio tour.  

    Mrs. Kennedy remembered that she often found Jack in their kitchens, after meals, receiving extra food from the cooks.  She was very strict about mealtimes and she didn’t allow her other children to do this. However, with Jack often being sickly and underweight she didn’t mind him getting these extra bits of food as a way of keeping some weight on him. 

    In the kitchen, you are seeing that the family enjoyed many of the basic comforts that we enjoy today:  radiator heat, hot and cold running water, electricity, and electric lighting. And so, it was a comfortable home for the newlyweds and their family. 

    When Mrs. Kennedy returned to this house to restore it, she made audio recordings that she wanted visitors to hear as they explored her family’s home.

    In this room, she remembered looking out the windows to see the children in the “warm spring sun” and “building snowmen in the winter.”  She also said that she was very happy when she lived here and although the family, “did not know about the days ahead, they were enthusiastic and optimistic about the future.” 

    Mrs. Kennedy had many reasons for which to be happy when she lived here: she was a newlywed, she had four of her children while living in this home, things were going well for Mr. Kennedy financially, and the family was becoming wealthier. Later, there were many tragedies.  Mrs. Kennedy lived to be 104 years old, but she did see the passing of four of her children before her--all at young ages and all in sudden, tragic ways. In fact, the original four children who lived in this home had already met tragic fates when she returned.  Her son “Bobby” was assassinated halfway through the restoration and so imagine the emotions that being back in this house must have stirred. 

    Mrs. Kennedy said that it was her faith and staying busy with projects, like this, that took her mind off the tragedies and gave her a reason to keep on living.  In many ways she was remembering, what she felt, was, a simpler and happier time.   

    The Kennedy Family became one of America’s wealthiest families, and this allowed for an array of extraordinary experiences.  Despite their wealth, Mrs.  Kennedy often quoted from the Bible, telling her children, “to whom much is given, much is to be expected.”  And so, the childen were taught from an early age, to appreciate their good fortune and give back.

    Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy wielded great influence over their children and their parental accomplishments resulted in two WWII military heroes, a congressman, three senators, an attorney general, two Presidential Medal of Freedom Winners, an ambassador, and, of course, a president.

    It is amazing to think that this is where John F. Kennedy took his first steps--and that those steps would one day lead him to the White House and into the highest office of the land. He was a president who inspired an entire generation of people in the 1960s and he is still a president who inspires many people today. 

    You have now had an opportunity to visit the birthplace of President Kennedy and learn about the formative experiences that shaped his early life.

    While you explored the home, you may have felt special connection with items in the house or within the family stories that reminded you of your own upbringing.

    Consider your own childhood and the environment in which you grew up.  Think about those influences that were around you and the expectations that your own parents, or guardians, set forth.  How did these experiences shape you into the person you are now? 

    Lastly, President Kennedy is remembered for many things.  Although many of us will never experience being President, our lives have great meaning and think about how you would like people to remember you.

     On behalf of the National Park Service, thank you for your visit and support of our national parks. When you are ready, please exit down the back stairs through the Visitor Center.