- Historic Sites
The Johnsons and the Kennedys are popularly thought to have shared a strong mutual dislike, but stacks of letters and a remarkable tape of Jacqueline Kennedy reminiscing show something very different —and more interesting
September 1994 | Volume 45, Issue 5
In August of last year Lady Bird Johnson was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard and Jacqueline Onassis wanted to see her. She invited Mrs. Johnson for an afternoon cruise. It rained, so instead the two old friends had a long lunch together at Mrs. Onassis’s home. It was the last time they were to see each other. When she learned that Mrs. Onassis was ill last winter, Mrs. Johnson wrote her and received a warm note in reply.
In the end it was Mrs. Johnson who survived her predecessor, seventeen years her junior.
Mrs. Johnson was among those select friends invited to attend the funeral of Mrs. Onassis on May 23, 1994. Leaning on a cane, the former First Lady flew up from Texas to attend the service, along with so many other members of the New Frontier. In recalling their friendship of three decades, Lady Bird Johnson remarked of Jacqueline that “in times of hope, she captured our hearts. In tragedy, her courage helped salve a nation’s grief. She was an image of beauty and romance and leaves an empty place in the world as I have known it.”
It is the words of President Johnson in a December 15, 1964, letter to Jacqueline Kennedy, however, that best expresses America’s sense of loss at her sudden death thirty years later: “Time goes by too swiftly, my dear Jackie. But the day never goes by without some tremor of a memory or some edge of a feeling that reminds me of all that you and I went through together.”