Sunday, 15 January 2012



Welcome to the 2012 special edition of  "With The Kennedys."
This book will be the perfect gift for your loved one or loved ones. It is ideal for men and women, most of all it is completely FREE!

This book was written by a friend and it is copyrighted.  Anyone who wants to make a movie of the book will be delighted to know my friend will be willing to listen to any financial offers.

Here is an instructive video clip to get you interested and in the mood. Just click the link on the side or bottom of the page when you are ready to go to Chapter 2.

Ecclesiastes 12:12
And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

Saturday, 14 January 2012



It was on November 22 of 1963 that my association with the Kennedys began. The night before I picked my girlfriend, Marilyn Sitzman, up at the Carousel Club, and she insisted I take lunch hour off and see the Presidential parade with her and her daytime boss, Abraham Zapruder.
I liked Marilyn and admired her devotion and initiative. Two years before she badly needed work, and family connections directed her to a bustling dress factory owned by Zapruder. He hired her as a receptionist and paid her fairly. But two bad seasons in a row had cut into Zapruder’s profits and he told her he might have to let her go.

Marilyn was certain the factory would get back on the right track and liked Zapruder personally. So she agreed to take a cut in salary and sought a second job to make ends meet. Turning to her family again she was told to see Jack Ruby. He offered her work at his night club.

I was less than enthused about her night time place of work. It was a dingy hangout for creeps, in fact a strip joint. Ruby offered Marilyn a waitressing job, which she accepted. Later she found out the strippers made twice as much as she did and requested such a position at the club. Everyone opposed the idea; I thought it was demeaning, Ruby would not allow a Jewish girl to take off her clothes in public, and the strippers themselves objected—Marilyn was quite lovely, noticeably shapely, and they didn’t want the competition.

Whatever compunctions I may have had about Ruby were slowly dissipated when I saw his crowd included many of Dallas’s finest. Clearly Ruby had nothing to fear from the police, since they frequented his club on their off hours. And Ruby himself offered his hospitality and friendship in return for their welcome patronage. It was an amicable arrangement.

Ruby and I had only one thing in common, but it was strong enough to create a bond. Neither of us remember our real parents. I was raised by victims of the Nazi Holocaust who had lost their own children in Poland. Ruby was raised in foster homes when early in his life the city of Chicago declared his own parents unfit to raise children. He viewed us as fellow orphans though I resisted belonging to the fraternity. I never viewed the wonderful couple who raised me as anything but my true parents. I was proud of my lineage, he was obviously ashamed of his.

Marilyn was an insistent girl, and she was positive the Presidential parade would be memorable. So certain was she that she purchased Abe Zapruder a Bell and Howell 8mm camera to record the event. Abe had never used a movie camera before and was certain he had no talent for filmmaking. But why look a gift horse in the mouth? He’d try his hand at it if his receptionist insisted. Maybe, she told him, he’d get some good shots and make some money selling them later on. Ridiculous, he thought.
I was also a reluctant parade witness. My job at the Teamsters local consumed a great deal of time, and I usually ate at the office. Previously I organized public relations for the Teamsters, but a few months earlier I was given the added task of editing and pretty well writing the entire local newsletter. I was good at the task and was receiving citations from within the Union. I felt driven to give my all to my work after I heard rumors that I was being considered for the position of national PR director of the Teamsters. I had even received a phone call from the big Boss, Mr. Hoffa, congratulating me on my good work.
At noon I met Marilyn and Abe beside a bridge overlooking Dealey Plaza. I was in a sour mood. Why did Marilyn pick such an out-of-the-way post to view the parade? She could have found something a bit closer to both our places of employment. But she prepared a box lunch and had a thermos full of lemonade. That was welcome on such a hot, muggy day.
The conversation was dull. Abe asked what temple I’d chosen for the upcoming high holidays, and Marilyn fidgeted nervously and seemed aloof from the discussion. At twelve ten I saw an acquaintance walking down the street below. He was Police Officer Harry Olsen who came to the Carousel Club at closing time to pick up his girlfriend, a talented exotic dancer named Kay Coleman.
“Hey,” I said to Marilyn. “There’s Kay’s boyfriend, Harry.”
Marilyn looked down, saw him and said, “He’s supposed to be there. He’s on duty.”
“I’m going to go down for a second and say hello.”
“Don’t bother him, Norm. He’s on duty.”
“Oh, it’s just for a second. I’ll be right back.”
I started to leave and Marilyn grabbed my sleeve and pulled me back.
“Norman, please. Don’t go down there. Please.”
I yanked my sleeve hard and her grip loosened. She then grabbed it again.
“What’s the matter the matter with you, Marilyn? I’m sure he won’t mind, and if he sees us he’ll be a little hurt I didn’t say hello.”
“You barely know him. He doesn’t want to see you.”
“Come on. Half the time I pick you up at club, he’s there waiting for Kay. We’ve had drinks a dozen times together already. I like him, and I’m going to say hello.”
“Then I’m coming, too.”
“Look,” said Zapruder. “You dragged me here so the least you can do is keep me company. I don’t know why the place is so empty now but if a crowd comes we’ll lose each other.”
I walked away unimpeded. On the way to meet Harry I passed the Texas School Book Depository. I had never understood its purpose. Were there really so many spare books in Texas that a ten-story warehouse was needed to store them? I saw a hawk-faced young man walk towards a side entrance holding a long cardboard box. That aroused my suspicions enough to yell to him, “Hey, what you got there?”
“Curtain rods,” he yelled back.
I thought to myself, why would someone bring curtain rods into a warehouse? I caught up to Harry in an uncertain mood.
“Hey, Norm,” he said, “How ya doin’, buddy?”
“Fine. Listen, Harry…”
“Whadya think of this little parade, huh? Why d’ya think Kennedy came?”
“You know, the bickering between Connally and Yarborough, show of unity and all that. Listen, Harry, I have to change the subject. I just saw a guy walk into the book depository with a long box. It could have been a rifle. Can you check it out?”
“Just your imagination, buddy.”
“All the same, better safe than sorry.”
Harry seemed agitated and said, “I’ll let you talk to my superior here.”
As he walked away I saw a man standing curbside across the street that also aroused my attention. He was wearing a raincoat and had opened an umbrella, then closed it again. It was 83 degrees in the shade, and though it rained in the morning, there was no threat of it now. Was he hiding something under the raincoat?
I thought to myself, what is going on? I’m not a suspicious person by nature. Why am I seeing subterfuge wherever I look? The confusion became unbearable when I looked in the direction of a rolling piece of grassy tract, which later became known as the grassy knoll.
If I may diverge for a moment, I never understood how the term knoll became accepted to describe the site. Very few people use the word knoll in any context anymore and fewer even know what it means. Yet, through I testified to the area being a patch of grass, the term grassy knoll was what stuck.
At the back of the knoll a white Rambler was parked. One man was seated in the driver’s seat and started up the engine. The other was leaning against the car body, caressing a black metal pipe.
Observation and memory are now unfathomable to me. Though I could be so perceptive as to think that looks like a rifle silencer, although I had never actually seen one other than on television, I had not noticed that the Rambler was a station wagon. Yet that is what the others, who were drawn to the scene for whatever reasons, swore they saw.
Harry came back with two policemen who I later learned were Sergeant Gerald Hill and Officer Paul Bentley. Hill said to me, “You got a problem, buddy?”
“Look, officer,” I replied, “I’m not a nut or some kind of loony tune. But I swear something’s funny around here.”
“Like what?”
“Like a guy wearing a full-length raincoat in 80 degree weather.” I pointed to the man and continued, “Like a guy carrying a long box into a perfect ambush site and claiming he was carrying curtain rods. And like those two over there beside the Rambler. What’s that he’s got in his hands?”
“Looks like an ordinary pipe,” said Bentley.
“Yup. That’s what it looks like to me,” agreed Hill.
“You mean, neither of you are even going to go see what it is?”
Hill lifted his walkie-talkie and spoke into it.
“Control. Yeah, Hill here. Get Tippet away from that theatre and have him come to the Plaza plain clothed. Tell him to make it pronto. We got a little trouble here.”
As I backed away I said, “Look, officers, I’m no troublemaker. I was just trying to be a good citizen. I guess I was wrong about everything.”
When I reached the next street corner I ran for the nearest phone. I saw no public phone anywhere so I ran into a novelties store. On the shelves were displayed such ingenious items as lava lamps, crystal radios and singing yo-yos. I thought to myself, when this is over I must come here just to browse leisurely.
I ran up to the main counter and said to the clerk (or owner, perhaps), “Please let me use your phone. Someone is trying to kill the President.”
“Ah, come on,” he replied, “That gag went out with the whoopee cushion.”
“I’m not kidding. There’s four of them. Two of them, at least, have rifles.”
“You think I was born yesterday? I’ve been in the business a long time. I single-handedly brought the hula hoop to Dallas.”
Time was running too short. I looked for some sort of weapon to force him to give me the phone. The first thing that caught my eye was a slinky. No threat there. Then a Davey Crocket fur hat. Of no use. Maybe the Crocket rifle. Was I losing my judgment? Finally I did something new to me. I punched him as hard as I could in the jaw. As he lay stunned on the floor I said, “If you try and get up you get it again. I’m sorry but national security is at stake now.”
I must digress at this point. Because of my PR position with the Teamsters, I was acquainted with a few top-ranking law enforcement officials. Attorney General Robert Kennedy had, I believed then, falsely accused my personal president, Mr. Hoffa, of misusing union funds and consorting with elements of organized crime. As a result, I was spending more time clearing his and our good name in the press than attending to the urgent business of an all-inclusive membership drive. The police and FBI had ransacked our offices on three separate occasions, and I had to deal with them personally and the press after. Usually I would charge the police with illegal entry and harassment.
I called Jesse Curry, Chief of Police.
“Mr. Curry, it’s Norman Mandel.”
“What do you want? We haven’t raided you in weeks and don’t plan to for another month.”
“I’m at Dealey Plaza. They’re going to kill the President when he passes here.” There was a long pause. “Do you hear me? Kill the President.”
“I hear you, Mandel, and this time you’re going too far.”
“I’m not going anywhere. You have to stop the motorcade. Reroute it. Do anything, just don’t let it pass Dealey Plaza. Then get some men into the book depository and to the little park on Elm Street. He’ll be here in less than ten minutes.”
“And when he gets there, wave to him for me.”
Curry banged down the phone.
I immediately phoned the FBI number of Inspector James Hosty.
“Mr. Hosty, it’s Norman Mandel. I’m at Dealey Plaza, and this is no joke. I saw assassins ready to shoot the President.”
“Mandel, this is the most perverse PR stunt you’ve ever pulled.”
“Please, don’t argue. Gamble, and if I’m wrong, expose me in the press. I don’t care what you do, just get here with some armed men.”
“Why didn’t you call the police? There are hundreds of them along the parade route.”
“They don’t believe me.”
“Okay. I know a cop who might. Stand in front of the book depository and wait for Lieutenant Jack Revill.”
“How long will he take to get there?”
“Fifteen minutes if you hang up now.”
I thought, there isn’t enough time. I looked at the owner’s Mickey Mouse watch. Only seven minutes to go. I ran out of the shop and back to the Plaza. Crossing the street against the light, I was almost run over by a souped-up Edsel. I ran to the raincoated man and said, “The whole thing’s off. The FBI is onto us.”
“I thought they were in on it,” he said.
“Not everyone. Now run to the book depository and call them off. I’ll take care of the Rambler.”
Slowly and confidently, he lowered his umbrella and sauntered to the depository. I went up to the crew cut man leaning on the Rambler and told him the plan was off.
“Who are you?” he asked menacingly.
“Man…Mann of the FBI. The Bureau found out. We’ll get him next time. If we try this time all the work has been for nothing.”
The President’s limousine approached. The crew cut was handed a rifle by his partner in the driver’s seat and placed the silencer on it. He lifted the rifle butt against his shoulder and took aim.
“I don’t care,” he said. “I want him, and I’ve got him in my sights.”
I yanked the barrel downward as he shot. Mrs. Connally grimaced, then screamed as she was hit.
He pushed me hard to the ground and applied what I assume was some sort of karate chop. Helplessly I watched him aim, and then I heard a shot. He crumpled to the ground as Hosty and Revill arrived.
“Cutting it pretty close, aren’t you?” I mumbled to Hosty.
“Shut up. Where are the others?”
“Book depository.”
They ran towards the building and I forced myself to follow them. At the cafeteria drinking a coke was the man I saw with the curtain rods. “That’s him,” I told Revill.
“Oh yeah, well how was he going to kill the President, splatter him with soda?”
“I don’t know. Just believe me. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have found out about the others.”
Revill handcuffed him, and we heard shots from somewhere in the building. Soon after we learned that Hosty was shot dead with an obsolete Italian combat rifle in a firefight that resulted in the death of two and the arrest of one attempted assassin.

ECC12:12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Friday, 13 January 2012



The horrible irony is that the President succeeded in what he set out to accomplish in Dallas. Mrs. Connally was rushed to Parkland Hospital and pronounced dead at one thirty in the afternoon. Senator Yarborough requested Vice-President Johnson’s intercession and received a moment with the governor to express his condolences and promised his close cooperation in the future. All former wounds were sincerely healed with a touching embrace by the two previous adversaries.

I need not remind my readers that I became an overnight hero. I have considered what heroics involve, and everyone from Billy Mitchell to Sergeant York was right. A hero is someone who does the only thing possible in a situation he accidentally walks into.
That night I went to my temple and saw Jack Ruby praying. He approached me and said, “What are you praying for, Norm?”
The question took me by surprise. “Well, Jack,” I answered, “If I was a better man, Mrs. Connally would be alive today.”
“No,” he answered, “If you were a better man, John Kennedy would be dead today.”
Then he walked away. To Ruby I was clearly no hero. However he seemed unique in his opinion.

The next morning Vice-President Johnson appeared at my door without advance warning. I was dressed in a bathrobe and felt self-conscious. Is this what they meant by the Kennedy administration’s informality?
“I’m sorry I disturbed you, Mr. Mandel.”
“You could have called first,” I answered, and then realized who I was talking to. “But since it was you,” I feebly recovered, “There was no real need.”
“Mr. Mandel, may I be seated?”
I invited him in, he apologized for disturbing my Sabbath and then came right to the point.
“President Kennedy is extremely grateful to you, has been briefed on your writing and promotional talents and requests that you join our team as a speech writer and image builder.”

It took me a few moments to formulate my response. “Is the President aware that I work for the Teamsters?”
“Of course. That’s why we have a Secret Service.”
“You could have fooled me yesterday.”
“Yesterday is too complicated to talk about yet. You can be assured that you are classified as a loyal citizen, not a security risk, despite your employers.”
“Tell the President that I am deeply honored and will accept if my employers offer me a leave of absence. That, I can assure you, is not a certainty.”
“Yes, it is, Mr. Mandel. We contacted Mr. Hoffa personally and have received his blessings on your appointment. Welcome to the team.”

The Vice-President left, and I sat down to contemplate my fate. Why was I always among the favored few? I was only a good student of journalism at Wayne State, not a great one, yet as soon as I graduated I was offered the Dallas position in the Teamsters’ organization. And if it were not for Marilyn, I would never have been in the position to save a President’s life. Was I blessed, lucky, or was someone greater than I watching over me and sending me headlong towards greatness?

I turned on the television hoping there would be news about the assassins. The dauntless reporters came up with information that made no real sense to me. The young man with the curtain rods was one, Lee Harvey Oswald, a former defector to the Soviet Union. One of the assassins actually worked for the CIA and was involved in the training of Cuban refugees who were later slaughtered at the Bay of Pigs. The other two were known Mafia hitmen with twenty-four acknowledged hits between them. Could such a motley group actually have formed a conspiracy somehow? Either that, or by a grand coincidence, hoods, communists, and anti-communists had all gathered at the same spot, at the same time, to do the same thing.

I turned off the set and began thinking. Did I really want to work for Kennedy? Certainly I had voted for him in 1960 believing him to be more pro-Labor than Nixon, but my employers supported Nixon as less of a threat. Still, I was swept into the Kennedy fold by the youth of the man, the glamour of his wife and the intelligence of his advisors. He seemed right for the times, an era where monkeys traveled in space, and some television shows were being broadcast in color.

Kennedy seemed an optimistic choice, and I am by nature an optimist. There was no reason not to be. I had a first rate career, my country was the greatest in the world, possibly in history, and there was no end in sight to our accomplishments. We were the greatest cultural force on earth, and our great artists such as Lucille Ball and Frankie Avalon were heroes to the world, and no country, big or small, could ever defeat us militarily.

Yet I had some doubts. Could Kennedy stand up to the communists like Nixon did in the Kitchen Debate? Would he have the nerve to tell Kruschev where to get off? I feared he admired some things about the socialist way of life and was soft on Communism.
When he let those gallant fighters bleed to death on the beaches of Cuba my worse fears were confirmed. He had not sent in our Marines to rescue those brave Latin democrats, and I knew in time Castro would come to haunt him. I didn’t know how soon after the haunting would begin.
But, in my mind, Kennedy redeemed himself during the Missile Crisis. Any man who would offer a nuclear showdown on behalf of American security, had guts. Clearly, he was not soft on Communism, just a true liberal. Yes, I admired him, true with some misgivings, but I would be proud to work with him.

ECC12:12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Thursday, 12 January 2012



At twelve forty-five I arrived at the Carousel Club to meet Marilyn. I had made a decision in the car that Marilyn had to quit her job at the club. Ruby’s comment the day before had led me to the conclusion that he was of unstable character. But I couldn’t ask her to quit unless I had something better to offer. I knew she loved her work with Zapruder, but I felt the enriching life of Washington, the people she would meet, the overwhelming sense of playing a role in history, could persuade her to leave. Of course, I would have to ask her to marry me.

“She greeted me as I entered. “Norm, there’s someone here to see you.”

“Harry Olsen?”

“No, not Harry Olsen. Look at the back wall.”

After gazing through the smoke I saw Jimmy Hoffa sitting alone at a table for two. Did he come just to see me? It didn’t make immediate sense. I walked to the table.

“May I join you, Mr. Hoffa?”

“Enough of this mister stuff. You’re on the Presidential staff. That earns you the right to call me Jimmy. Pull up a chair, cowboy.”

Jimmy offered me a cigar. Though I don’t smoke I felt obliged to accept. When I read the label I saw it was Cuban.

“There are still a few around,” he explained.

I felt so intimidated, so overwhelmed by his presence, that I opened with the dumbest cliche×™in the book. “To what do I owe this great honor, Jimmy?”

“No, no. The honor is mine. You are the only Teamster on the White House staff. You outrank me in some quarters. Some very safe quarters. Look, Norman, you on the staff is good for the Kennedys. It proves they got nothing against Teamsters, just against me personally.”

“I can’t believe that expedience had anything to do with my appointment. I have just been honored by a grateful President.”

“Right. Have it your way.

Just remember this, you’re an employee of the Teamsters on an approved leave of absence. Someday there may be a conflict of interest. If that day comes.”

“I assure you, if that day comes, I’ll resign.”

“No, you won’t. You’ll use your influence to clear our good name and mine in particular.

“How could I do that?”

“Because you’ll be in the inner circles of the White House with access to information that…”

“I would never betray…”

“The Teamsters. That’s who you’d never betray. Your first oath is to us. Now that little wimp, Bobby, is getting in my way. And if it wasn’t for you…”

“What’s that?”

“Oh, never mind. Just be a source of pride to all Teamsters. Do your job with dignity as I do mine.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now get lost. Go somewhere with your broad.”

I walked away as Ruby approached the table.

“Mr. Hoffa, sir,” he said. “It would be a great honor if you signed a photo and added how much you enjoyed your visit to my club.”

“MANDEL,” Hoffa screamed. “You’re still our PR Chairman till Monday. Arrange a nice photo for Mr. Ruby here, and get the guy who does my signature to write a personal note to Mr. Ruby here. You still know how to do these things, right?”

“Yes, sir. I’ll have it done before I fly to Washington.”

I sat with Marilyn in the car. She looked lovely, yet she fidgeted like at Dealey Plaza. I decided marriage would have to wait. I yearned for her with a great lust but satisfaction would have to be delayed. Suddenly she brightened up and said, “You won’t believe it. This is wild. Mr. Zapruder took his film in to be developed, and I picked it up tonight. He overexposed the whole roll. Nothing came out.”


12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012



My flight to Washington was proof of the miracles of the Jet Age. I was greeted at the White House, not by the President but by his Press Secretary, Pierre Salinger, and by the Chairman of his Party, Larry O’Brian. They invited me to sit down and then let me in on my purpose.
“People tried to kill our President, and we don’t know who they are or why they did it. But it looks like a broad conspiracy. The way to unravel it is to find out who Lee Harvey Oswald is.”
“Don’t you know who he is?”
“That’s just it,” said Salinger. “He’s really nobody or lots of people. He joins the Marines, learns Russian and defects. We don’t believe that’s possible. Then the Russians house him in Minsk, a highly sensitive military city. We don’t understand it. Then they let him emigrate to America with his wife, Marina, the niece of a top KGB commissar.”

“And it gets stranger,” added O’Brian. “He sets up a committee for Fair Play For Cuba in the same building as a CIA anti-Castro storefront. They had to be in contact with him. We have to know, who is he and what was he doing in Dealey Plaza? We know this much…he wasn’t shooting anybody. We checked his Marines’ record. He couldn’t hit a barn with a baseball.”

“So how do I fit in?” I asked.
“You are going to have to testify against him,” said O’Brian. “Marina refuses to believe her husband was involved but you are implicating him. She has agreed to speak to you hoping you’ll forget you saw him with the cardboard box.”
“What do I ask her?”
“You’ll be briefed. It’s only a few days’ work, then you’ll get down to speechwriting and image boosting for five more years, I expect.”

I wasn’t certain I wasn’t being used. But this obviously was important work, and my President personally asked me to take on the assignment. What greater honor is there? At supper I met him. Brother Robert joined us after the meal for coffee and conversation. It was a dream, really, sitting with the two most charismatic figures in America. Both as brimming with youth and attractiveness even at close quarters. The President’s hair, I noticed, was turning grey, yet his demeanor underaged his looks by twenty years.
“Bob, Mr. Mandel is quite charming. He’ll be a fine addition to our team.”
“And do you, Mr. Mandel,” said Bobby, “approve of your first assignment?”
“It sounds very important?”

“It’s vital,” answered the Attorney General. “Somebody, or some group attacked our whole system of democracy. We have to find out who they are or they’ll try it again.”
“But why Marina?” I asked.
“Because,” continued Bobby, “Her husband isn’t saying anything. And there’s reason to believe he doesn’t know anything. Yet what are the odds of such a character just being in Dealey Plaza? Not likely, I’m afraid.”
“Norman,” added the President, “If you find something interesting, you’ve done a great service. That will be two I’ll owe you. I repay my debts, Norman.”

I phoned Marilyn and told her I was coming back for a few days to lease my apartment and prepare to move to Washington. She met me at Dallas Airport, and we drove back in her late model Studebaker. She seemed cheerful and asked what the President was like and how I felt meeting him. I tried to act inconspicuously, but perhaps she detected some new reticence to communicate on my part. What if she found out I was seeing Marina Oswald? Would she understand that it was in the line of duty or misinterpret the whole thing? I would see her when I could, but Marina was the real reason I was in Dallas.

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012



I am certain my first meeting with Marina would have gone much smoother had she understood English, or for that matter, had I understood Russian. But since neither was the case, communication was somewhat restricted.
When I entered her modest bungalow I was first struck by the picture of Czar Nicholas the Second on her living room wall. Was this a clue to her politics? If so, she was obviously quite nostalgic.

“Kack tee posh oh vayish?” she asked. Of course I had no easy response since I didn’t understand what she said. Sensing my confusion she tried a new question.
“Shto Novo Ho?”
“Look,” I said bluntly, “your husband was at the scene of an attempted political assassination. What was he doing there?”
“Lee good man,” she replied. “No kill nobody.”
“Mrs. Oswald, your husband has a rather perplexing past. He defected to your country, retuned to ours and initiated pro-Castro demonstrations. That alone, though circumstantial, makes him a prime suspect in a murder case.”
“Lee good man. No kill nobody.”
“And you, Mrs. Oswald. You are the niece of a top KGB official. How did you get out of the Soviet Union?”
“Lee good man. No kill nobody.”

It was obvious I would get nowhere with this line of questioning. I left in frustration, telling her I would return that evening. She seemed to understand my intent and kissed me on the cheek before I left.
“Mrs. Oswald,” I exclaimed. “You’re a married woman.”
“Lee good man,” she replied.
“I know,” I said. “No kill nobody.”“You know?” she asked. “Is good.”

When I got to my hotel I phoned Pierre Salinger in Washington. “Look, Mr. Salinger,” I said. “How am I supposed to discover anything when she only speaks six words of English?”
“The six words wouldn’t happen to be, “Lee good man. No kill nobody.?”
“Yes, those are the words. How did you know?”
“That’s what she’s been telling the press. We assume she knows a few more. Just keep pressing her. Use a little force if you have to.”
“What about me trying the old Mandel charm?”
There was a pause before he answered.
“If nothing else works it couldn’t hurt to try,” he replied unenthusiastically.

With Marina in the back of my mind and knowing I had permission from the top to pull all stops with her tonight, I visited Marilyn at Abe Zapruder’s dress factory. After the perfunctory greetings Marilyn kissed me on the cheek exactly where Marina had kissed me just an hour before.
“You taste like borscht,” she said.
I turned beet red and made an excuse. “Uh, yes. My baba brought that custom from the Old Country. I often wash my face in borscht.”
I could sense by her silence that she didn’t believe me. I hoped she didn’t suspect the truth.
“Norm,” she replied, “I would prefer if you stopped that superstition. What could borscht have that simple soap doesn’t?”
Yes, she accepted my story. “Non-alkaline enzymes,” I said confidently.
“Is that good for zits?”
“I never saw a zit on my grandmother’s face.”
“Maybe I’ll try it,” she said ending the issue.

I soon learned that Abe had taken a fancy to his new movie camera and had signed up for a film-making course. He had asked if Marilyn would agree to pose nude for him, but she adamantly refused.
“He wasn’t even planning to pay me,” she said in disgust. I had heard enough. I barged into Abe’s office. He was visibly distressed.
“You see what these are, Norm?” he asked holding a pile of papers. “These are returns on crinolines. For years I made the best crinolines in the southwest. Now no one wants to wear them. Not even in the little girl sizes. I’m stuck with a warehouse full of shmatas.”
“I’m sure they’ll come back into fashion,” I said trying to console him. “You know how quickly things change in the trade. They’ll start moving again in the Spring.”
“No. Corduroy is in now. Everyone’s making things in corduroy. Can you imagine corduroy dresses? Who’d have guessed? Not me, and now I can’t buy a yard of it from anyone. It’s all committed to New York. And me, I’ve got three miles of Dacron and half a barn of gabardine.”

“Look, Abe,” I said, trying to change the subject. “It’s about your movie camera.”
“The only pleasure I have in this world.”
I made my excuses and left the room.
“What’d he say?” asked Marilyn. “Is he going to pay me?”
“He said a sweet girl like you should be ashamed of herself for even thinking of agreeing to pose for his stupid camera.”
“You mean he won’t agree to the crinoline promotion?”
“No, not even that. And he said never to bring up the subject again.”

I left with mixed emotions after agreeing to meet her at the club when it closed. Arriving in the evening at Marina’s home, the burden of responsibility dawned on me. Someone had tried to kill my President, and I would find out if it was this Oswald creep.

I was mildly surprised to see Marina had prepared me a romantic candlelight dinner. The candles were placed in rather bulky holders of either zinc or nickel, and the white wine turned out to be vodka, but I had a nice time despite the peculiarities of custom.
“Do you like potatoes and cream cheese?” she asked.
“Da,” I answered.
“And perhaps some borscht with it?”
“Nyet,” I answered. I hate borscht.”
“Then we make toast together.”
She poured the vodka into paper cups, lifted hers in the air and said, “Pravda.” I repeated the process also toasting, “Pravda.” After swallowing the contents in one gulp she crumpled the cup and threw it in the wastebasket.
I couldn’t swallow a cup of vodka like that without gagging, but I covered my weakness by asking, “What is Pravda?”
“Truth,” she answered.

Propriety forbids me providing a detailed description of our after dinner activities, but I will hint that her bra had eight hooks in it. In the afterglow of what is known as necking and getting to first base, I asked her what her husband would say if he found out.
“Vladimir never find out. Never see me no more.”
“I was thinking more of Lee.”
“Lee not my husband. Lee bad man. Maybe shoot somebody.”At last I had broken through. The story that followed the confession, however, I assumed to be a lie. Before I left her place she kissed me deeply on the cheek.

When I arrived at my hotel I washed my face for several minutes and applied several coatings of Aqua Velva to my right cheek. Then I phoned Pierre. He was happy to hear from me.
“How’d it go?”
“I think terribly. I got some strange information from her.”
“Like what?”
“Like Glad Bags.”
“Like what?”
“Glad Bags. She says it’s America’s greatest invention. She says Soviet housewives have to take the garbage out in heavy cans. This is a major technological breakthrough, and she asked me for the formula. Do you have any disinformation on Glad Bags?”

“Forget that. What about her husband?”
“I don’t know if it’s worth telling you.”
“Try me.”
“You sure?”
“Just spill it, will you?”
“Promise not to laugh.”
“I promise.”
“Okay, I’ll hold you to that. Lee Harvey Oswald never went to Russia. She married someone else there, and before she arrived in America Lee traded places with him.”
“Come on. Honest?”
“That’s what she said.”
“But why?”
“She refused to say. That’s as far as I could get with her.”
“Okay, we’ll check it out.”

I later arrived at the Carousel Club expecting to pick Marilyn up. Jack Ruby seemed genuinely exhilarated to see me.
“I let Marilyn off early tonight. She’ll expect you for drinks at her place later. Some doll, that Marilyn.” He jabbed me playfully in the upper arm and added, “You’ve got a real winner there, Norm.”

He jerked his head to the left twice and said, “My club has been honored once again by the visit of your employer. Why don’t you sit down and have a drink with him?”
I saw Mr. Hoffa nursing what appeared to be a glass of bourbon. What an honor it was to be visited by my benefactor!
“Sit down, Mandel,” he almost barked. I obeyed instinctively for reasons I barely understood.
“You recognize these people,” he asked while handing me a photograph. Of course I recognized them.
“They’re my parents. Where did you shoot it?”
“This time we shot it with a camera yesterday. Someday we could shoot it with something more lethal.”
“What do you mean?”

“Let me explain to you what I mean. You see, this here Bobby Kennedy is out to crucify me. You understand that the Union invests its dues in projects that will pay dividends come retirement. And we’re good investors. We’ve arranged some enviable pensions for our members. You know that.”
“What’s that got to do with Mom and Dad?”

“Please, allow me to go on. You see this Bobby creep has the whole apparatus of the Justice Department and the FBI at his disposal. And he’s attacking me like I was poison.”
“Then I’ll speak to him about it. If you’ve been subjected to illegal harassment I will bring it to the highest…”

“Mandel, will you shut up? Some of my investments are going to get me ten years in the can, and nothing can stop that unless Bobby is snuffed permanently. And you’re going to do it or your parents will be in the next world a bit early.”
“You don’t mean that?”
“I do. You’re going to poison our illustrious Attorney General at the first convenient moment before I’m convicted. After that things are taken care of.”

“I can’t. I haven’t got it in me.”
Hoffa called Ruby over and said, “Sure you do. We all do. Tell him about it, Jack.”
“Well, you see,” said Ruby humbly, “I began my career as a messenger for Al Capone in Chicago. I was a good messenger and word got out. In time, my enthusiasm and ambition carried me to the vice-presidency of the local Wastehandlers Union. One year our president began some reforms that were detrimental to the interests of our members. So I had to kill him. It was easy and actually quite a lot of fun. Needless-to-say, the Union took very good care of me, and no one was the wiser for it. In time I was given an important, though unpublicized position in Dallas, and as they say, ‘the rest is history.”

“Jack, you have the right personality for the job. I’m squeamish. I don’t have the stomach for murder. Get someone else to do it, and don’t tell me about it. I don’t want to know.”
“Norm, Norm, Norm,” Ruby repeated. “We’re from the same tribe, remember? I know what your parents went through. And I know you want the best for them. Believe me, I understand suffering. I cry every time one of my dogs gets sick. You couldn’t make your parents suffer any more. Not after what they’ve been through.”

Hoffa pulled a package the size of a matchbox from his suit pocket. “A little powder in his coffee. You pick the place. If there’s any trouble we’ll have the FBI personally escort you to the airport with a new passport and a ticket to a place where a million bucks is in your bank account. You’ll love Honduras. The broads, (kissing the tips of his thumb and forefinger), mwah! All of ‘em honeys.”

In a fog I walked into Marilyn’s apartment building. I knocked on her door. She opened the door, and I saw her face was all red. Her hands tried to cover the odd completion.
“How could you, Norman? I washed my face in borscht like you said, and the stuff doesn’t come out.”

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Monday, 9 January 2012



The next morning Pierre called me at the hotel. “Norm, you’re a genius. I think I severely underestimated you. The stuff on Oswald is being confirmed. It checks out. We think you uncovered an incredibly intricate conspiracy. Maybe even a planned takeover.”
“No more of the naive act, Norm. You proved it. You’re good, and you’re on the team. Fly into Washington today. We’ve got a tough job for you. We’re going to legislate civil rights and we’ll need you to move public opinion and Congress.”

I phoned Marina and wished her good-bye. I knew we’d meet again. She said she hoped it wasn’t in a court of law. Even there, I told her, my feelings for her wouldn’t change.
Marilyn drove from work to take me to the airport. She was wearing a black veil over her face. She complained all the way to the airport.
“It’ll never come out. I tried using Ajax this morning and it just got redder.”
“Funny,” I answered. “That never happened to my grandmother.”
“And this veil, everyone asks me why I’m wearing it. I’ve told fifty people I’m in mourning for Mrs. Connally.”
“She was a fine woman.”
“I’ve never met her. You try telling people why you’re in mourning for someone you never met. Everyone now thinks I’m the Lone Star patriot.”
“Is that why you put the Confederate flag on your bumper?”
“Yeah. And what’s worse is police cars escort me all the time. They think I’m a Connally.”

At the airport I shook Marilyn’s hand when we parted. She refused to kiss my cheek as lovers are apt to do before a separation of undetermined length. How I wished it was Marina’s hand in mine.
But thoughts of love evaporated as I sat in on my first high level government meeting. Here I was with the controllers of America’s destiny about to ply their trade. The President was humorless, even dour as he said, “This Administration is going to present to Congress a National Civil Rights Act. Most of you have read the proposed bill… may I have your reactions?”

“Jack,” said his brother Bobby. “the section on education. You can’t bus Negroes to white schools. You’re from Boston, you know better than that. You’ll lose the next election on that one issue alone.”
“This is beyond electoral politics,” the President answered. “Negro children will benefit from the higher standards of suburban schools, and in the end the country will benefit.”

“Even if you’re right,” added Dean Rusk, “It’ll take years to see the results. Leave that as a local school board issue.”
The President was resolute.
“No school board will tip the applecart. Most Americans want to give the Negro an even break, and we’ll give the school boards an excuse to bus. They’ll be breaking the law if they refuse.”
“All I can say,” added Bobby, “is that every parent whose kid comes home from school with a bloody nose is going to blame us next November.”
“Then we’ll start bussing only elementary school children. They are too young to have picked up prejudice.”

“Jack,” interrupted Bobby, “Think back a bit. What did Dad say about Jews during the War? Would we have gone to school with Jews back then?”
I cringed at the conversation. The President noticed and said, “I’m, sorry, Norm. But our father had his shortcomings. But don’t worry. We overcame them.”
I thought this was terribly considerate of the President and relaxed thereafter. This was the moment I came to understand the greatness of the man.

Pierre Salinger also opposed the bill based on his fear that it was too drastic, providing too much, too quickly. He was convinced neither white nor Negro America could handle the significance of a revolution in race relations.
“Mr. President, I have a report financed by the Army. It is sociological in nature and stresses a new concept called Rising Expectations. If you raise people’s expectations too quickly and they are not quickly satisfied, violence born of frustration results.”
“Who wrote that?” demanded the President.
“A Nobel Prize-winning scientist named Shockley. He helped invent the transistor.”
“And do you feel he understands the Negro?”
“He certainly has a deep admiration for their athletic and musical gifts.”
“Anything else?”
“I’m certain much remained unwritten in other areas.”
“Just as I thought. Another academic study of no worth foisted on the taxpayers. The Negro, when he sees how much his fellow citizens care, will be pacified and grateful, not violent.”

When riots broke out from Harlem to Watts, from Newark to Detroit, and most places in between throughout his second term, the President occasionally expressed a confused disappointment, but his faith in the goodness of Americans never flagged.
“Norm,” he said as I froze momentarily thinking to myself, ‘what did I do?’. “Bobby is right. There will be resistance. I’m told you understand the importance of appearances. How do we break down this resistance?”

Thinking on my feet I said, “The most important thing is to find a black spokesman acceptable to almost all Americans. He has to appeal for his rights and even the most hardened skeptics have to be moved. We have to place him in a high cabinet post and overnight make him the official leader of the Civil Rights Movement. It is very important that he is a team player. There can be no signs of disagreement on this issue from within the Administration.”
“Norman, you are absolutely right. And you are assigned to interview charismatic Negro leaders and find our man.”
I had achieved my first professional breakthrough with the President. I was his man on a highly historical mission.
“Norm,” he continued. “The man you will choose must have those qualities we so appreciate in a Negro leader. He must be obedient, yet humble. He must be of an acceptable appearance to all and must know his place. I know you will find the man to lead the American Negro out of the wilderness.”
“Jungle,” Rush muttered.

The first man I interviewed was a priest named Martin Luther King. He had gained some national notoriety two years previously when Americans saw him leading a protest for equal opportunity in Montgomery, Alabama. During the first days of the protest the feisty and principled Police Chief of Montgomery, Bull Conner, had hosed down the protesters with high-pressure water blasts and then sicked Doberman pinchers on them. Americans were amazed at King’s aplomb. When asked his reaction to the hosing he said calmly that he needed a shower anyway. When asked if he also needed some dog bites he was more reluctant to answer.

I found him a man radicalized by the bitterness of his struggle. His approach to civil rights was a program, more of an attitude really, called Negro Power, Right On.
“Negro is beautiful,” he told me. “Negroes is better lovers than Whiteys, Negroes is better fighters than Whiteys, and Negroes is smarter than Whiteys. You got that straight, you racist Honky? We is the beautiful people of this country.”

Next I interviewed a less grating individual with the unusual name of Malcom X. He felt that education would save the Negro and had a wonderful slogan prepared to express his belief. It went, Learn, Baby, Learn.

After that I interviewed a rather pompous man, prone to exaggeration and quoting false figures to prove his rather extreme view of history. His name was Stokely Carmichael. Of the remaining interviews I was most impressed with the straight-laced humanity and over-riding sense of obedience of Roy Wilkins. For his organizational and fund-raising abilities he was twice named Negro of the Year by the new “Ebony” magazine. He was later appointed head of the NAACP and founded their magazine, serious competition of “Ebony”, called “Uncle Tom.” The editorial stance of the magazine was progressive yet realistic.

Wilkins in his Pulitzer Prize winning first editorial wrote the now classic lines:
“Our cynical detractors, those nabobs of negativism led by a man of no destiny, Martin Luther King, called those Negroes who see success within the American system, Uncle Toms. So we will wear our yellow star with pride. We glory in our success, we revel in our progress, we are proud Uncle Toms.”

This marvelous tract contrasted in my mind with King’s recent overbearing “I Have a Dream” speech, which I found too demanding. Especially the part that went:

“I have a dream. I see two cars in the home of every Negro in America. I have a dream. I see the day when all young Negroes will do their homework in air conditioned rooms, when no Negro child will go to bed overheated. Lordy, Lordy, it’s over. Real freedom at last.”

In comparison with Wilkins’ theme stated in his magazine’s poignant slogan, We Have
Overcome, King was too eccentric for a Kennedy Administration appointment. And I let the President know when discussing my results at the selection meeting with him and his brother. I was upset that Bobby was there knowing the more I came to like him, the more tasteless my future task on behalf of the Teamsters would become.
“So, Mr. President, I see the choice narrowed to Malcom X and Roy Wilkins.”
“What does the X stand for, Norm?” he asked.

“Well, Mr. President, that’s our problem. Malcom insists that’s his full name. So we have an image problem. Americans judge by a person’s name. For instance, your decision to reject McGeorge Bundy’s appointment was the right one. His name should be George McBundy. But as it stands, people will suspect he has his head on backwards, and that’s not a good reflection on this Administration.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” said Bobby. “I’m lucky, I guess. Robert is a harmless image.”
“True,” I acknowledged, “But Robert Francis is troublesome. Francis sounds, well, girlish.”
“It was a present,” he replied defensively. “I was too young to oppose it. I would have, you can be sure of that.”

“Then it’s Roy Wilkins,” said the President.
“It seems so, with your approval,” I conferred.
“Then we will introduce him with a splash. I’ve decided to invite him to spend a night at the White House. And not in the servants’ quarters either. He will be the first Negro to sleep in the Presidential residence of the White House. And America will know about it.”
“No, Jack, no. Don’t be crazy.”
“It’s a risk, Bobby, my mind’s made up. Norm, I’d like you to find out what foods he is used to, when he goes to sleep, what activities he enjoys…the make his stay pleasant.”

There was fanfare the evening Wilkins came to stay. But the tension dissipated at dinner. I had chosen a meal of black-eyed peas, fried chicken and chitlins. The President asked Wilkins to join him at the table.
“Yassuh, Misser President, I’s comin’.”
When the first course arrived his eyes practically bulged out of their sockets.
“Oh boy, my favorite. Chitlins.”
“Uh, Norm,” asked the President, “What is this delightful looking concoction?”
“Deep fried goose or hogback. You’ll love it.”
“Isn’t it a bit burnt?”
“Yassuh, Misser President. But please don beat the cook. She didn’t mean no harm by it.”

It was clear that Wilkins had much natural charm, and the President took to him immediately. The next day he was convinced Roy Wilkins would enter the nation’s cabinet despite Jackie’s claim that silverware was missing from the kitchen. But how could he be appointed without appearing to be pandering to Negroes? And what position could he hold?

The President had suffered two appointments’ scandals when Bobby was named Attorney General, and his brother-in-law, a hack actor named Peter Lawford, was appointed head of the idealistic and ultimately disastrous attempt at appeasement of the Third World called the Peace Corps. Could Wilkins turn into another controversy? We would have to find him a position of genuine importance, and he would have to be right for the job.

The President overcame these obstacles brilliantly in February when we gathered for the Vietnam strategy meeting. Kennedy inherited a headache from the French in Southeast Asia. Divided in two at a Geneva Conference, the Communist North was infiltrating the democratic and capitalistic South, and the Communists clearly were aiming for a takeover. This we could not tolerate. Communism had to be contained at any price. All America agreed on that.

Two years previously Kennedy had sent his Vice-President, the sophisticated Texan, Lyndon Johnson, and his trusted aide, Walter Jenkins, to Vietnam to review the situation there and discuss options.
At the debriefing Jenkins said he had a wonderful time. The Vietnamese were lovely young men, virile yet cute. Johnson publicly claimed that President Diem was the Winston Churchill of Southeast Asia, a statement Churchill protested, and Kennedy was mollified until Buddhist monks self-immolated themselves before television cameras, expressing the true repressive nature of the Diem regime.

The President approved a plan for his removal and his replacement by a seemingly more benevolent reformer named Ky. But the situation deteriorated under Ky, and the insurgents from the North exploited the insecurity and had gained effective control of the countryside outside the big cities.
“This has to stop,” said the President. “We will assume that Ky must go too. And maybe Ky’s successor will be another turkey. But someday we’ll find a good leader for them. Till that day, that sham in the South must be preserved. We can’t have the Communists taking over every place on earth suffering internal crisis. There’ll be nobody left to trade with that way.”

“I agree,” said Bob MacNamara. “But I don’t want to commit ground troops to defend the likes of Ky. I suggest we nuke Hanoi and keep nuking till the insurgents return home.”
“Too drastic,” said the President. “Though I do agree with the spirit of your idea, the Soviets are Ho Chi Minh’s chief suppliers, and they might decide a nuke on Saigon is the correct response to your proposal. I know I’d respond that way if I was in their shoes. No, we have to teach this ragtag South Vietnamese army to fight and, and they have to purge the countryside of insurgents conventionally. I intend to send troops as advisors. They will fight, teaching by example. I estimate 16,000 should be enough to contain the North till the Southern army is prepared.”

“But,” interrupted Bobby, “Of those 16,000 more than a third will be black, and a lot of the rest uneducated country boys. The rich kids all have college deferments or have paid shrinks to make them 4F. I’m not certain the blacks in their present mood will be motivated to kill brown people, and I’m not at all sure the country boys will be motivated to fight with black people.”
“I’ve considered all that, and I think I’ve got the solution. I am appointing a Secretary of State for Vietnam and a Secretary of Defense for Vietnam. Bob here will stay Secretary of State for all other nations, and Dean will take care of all army issues unrelated to Vietnam, but Bull Conner will be our Vietnamese Secretary of Defense, and Roy Wilkins our Vietnamese Secretary of State.”

I immediately saw the brilliance of the scheme. The people Reagan would later call the Silent Majority loved Conner and admired the courageous stand he took against Luther King’s band of radicals and Roy Wilkins could now enter the Cabinet, easing the passage of the Civil Rights Bill. I was overcome by the brilliance of the concept and interrupted the meeting. “Mr. President, I’m young and believe in your vision. When the upcoming election campaign is done I will enlist in the army and fight in Vietnam.”
“Norm,” he said, “I’ll worry about you like you were my own brother. Bless you and come back whole. We’ll need you here when your duty is up.”

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Sunday, 8 January 2012



The 1964 campaign began for me with a lecture on the press given to me by Pierre Salinger.
“Norm” he said, “We need the press, everyone needs the press, but you have little experience with them.”
“Well, I’m told I handled them well when Hoffa started making the news.”
“Not well enough. I predict Bobby gets Hoffa to trial sometime after the election. You have to understand reporters. I work with them daily, and believe me, they’re the most pathetic lot I’ve ever seen. They drink too much, travel too much, and see too much. Their marriages are wrecks, they are incredibly jealous of anyone who gets ahead, dream of Pulitzer Prizes they’ll never get but keep trying for the Prize by uncovering dirt. The dirtier the dirt, the faster they think they’ll get ahead. They think they’re performing a public service by exposing a politician’s private quirks, but no one has ever found a correlation between private morality and public duty.

Look what they’ve done to Rockefeller. The guy remarries a pretty young gal and they crucify him for it. Hell, who wouldn’t do the same thing if they could.”
“A man who can’t handle his own marriage wouldn’t be very good managing the country,” I suggested.
“Do you really believe that? Asked Salinger. “That’s the press’s line to justify their voyeurism, but there’s not an ounce of truth in it. He had an empty first marriage, and this new woman, what’s her name, Bouncy, Sleepy, Dopey?”
“Happy,” I said.
“Right, she makes him feel alive again. The man’s in tune with the country and could beat us. He’s rich, but that’s no issue. Joseph Kennedy was no slouch either. But the press knocked him out of the race, and the Republicans are going to be stuck with Goldwater. You watch.”
“So how do we handle them?”
“You gotta keep ahead of them. Keep finding interesting non-controversial stories for them to write about the administration. We’ll worry about keeping the bad ones out of their hands.”

So I looked for gimmicks essentially. I hired William Manchester to write a glowing biography of Mrs. Connally which was less flattering than we intended. To justify our entry into Vietnam I ghost-wrote a book for the President called “Profiles in Cowardice—A History of American Expediency.” The President found six examples of moments America should have entered a war and lost, by lack of resolve, either trading partners or nations on the road to democracy.

The chapter that won him the most praise, “Yalta, the Sacrifice of Eastern Europe”, was my idea, but Kennedy proposed that a small nuclear device on Moscow in 1945 would have brought down the Iron Curtain. I liked the idea and enjoyed expanding on it. The chapter I excluded was, in fact, never written: The loss of Cuba in 1959 and the refusal to back the Bay of Pigs invaders with the military support they so deserved.

Bobby ran his brother’s campaign skillfully, and I didn’t have much to do at times. Bobby’s campaign assistant, Dick Tuck, appeared at Goldwater rallies, and trouble seemed to plague Goldwater wherever he went. But I am responsible for one coup…I hired Allan Sherman, that magnificent song parodist who made the summer of “63 memorable with his hilarious “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”, to write a pro-Kennedy campaign song called “Let’s All Call Up AT&T and Protest To The President’s March”. It was a send-up of Kennedy’s physical fitness programs as sung by fat, lazy people. It was a wonderful vehicle for the campaign.

Six months previously Sherman recorded “Beautiful Teamsters” and was paid well for the effort. The song, sung to the tune of “Beautiful Dreamer” had such lines as:

Beautiful Teamsters, please let me join
Can’t drive a truck, but I’m willing to loin…
Driving by night with no opposition
Tanks to the Interstate Commerce Commission

There was one minor image crisis which I helped manage. Pope John XXIII had died, and we had to decide if it was politically wise for the President to appear at his funeral. But the truth is Kennedy wasn’t fond of the Pope. He once threatened to excommunicate him if he didn’t change the name of the Statue of Liberty to Our Lady of the Harbor. The President never forgave him that threat and decided to send Johnson instead. But Johnson was from a Baptist background and didn’t know any Catholic Church protocol, so Teddy Kennedy represented his brother in Rome.

Sadly, the week-long wake in his hotel room raised a few eyebrows in the Holy City and we had to control the damage in the press. But Pierre had experience covering up such stories. When Bobby threw parties, guests were known to fall into his pool fully clothed, but these events never gathered much press space even when Senator Mills died. Bobby, however, was bereaved and spent months consoling Mills’ close friend and constant companion, Fannie Foxe, a brilliant Argentinean social wit and performer of exotic dance.

I guess I should mention the rather touchy subject of Jackie, an issue I helped defuse. According to a close confidante of mine who I will, in the name of propriety, call Fred Sorenson, the President and his wife were for all purposes separated. He had liaisons and used to send Jackie off to the far corners of America to accommodate them. One night she would attend a Rotary Club Dinner in Casper, Wyoming, the next day dedicate an Old Age Home in Seattle. Her familiar leopard skin pill box hat became the subject of an amusing song by Bob Dylan who would later sing it at our campaign rallies. He was a nice boy, and we belonged the same Zionist Youth Organization.

Everyone in the press was aware of the President’s activities, but no one would besmirch his name or sink so low as to reveal them. The result was a misdirected attack on Jackie’s extravagant spending habits. I defused the potentially explosive issue by hiring Chubby Checker to create a dance sensation called “The Jackie”. That made her a hero to youth and untouchable to the wary press.

Now according to Fred, and I could never confirm this from anyone else, a major crisis involving the President’s friendship to actress Marilyn Monroe almost leaked to the press. Apparently Mr. Hoffa sent former baseball star, Joe DiMaggio, to the White House to request an end to the Justice Department’s investigation of the Teamsters. Apparently, Marilyn was beginning to speak of her friendship with the President and did so with DiMaggio a few hours before she tragically passed away. Although I used DiMaggio’s visit as a fine photo opportunity aimed at the Italian and jock votes, DiMaggio used the opportunity as a concerned ex-husband of the deceased to speak on behalf of Mr. Hoffa. I know none of the details except what we all know: that is, that after Mr. DiMaggio’s terrible accident, he was named the American Ambassador to the Fiji Islands.

This incident did get back to Jackie, and she threatened a divorce right in the middle of the campaign. Remembering what the press did to Rockefeller, this had to be prevented at all costs. And it did cost, when they finally divorced. But during the campaign Jackie was the model of propriety. When Teddy’s ex-wife, Joan, married Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis, she expressed memorable disapproval. And I’ve been told the night she danced “The Jackie” with Chubby Checker on the “Ed Sullivan Show” she won our side another 5 million votes. Chalk that idea up to me.
But I guess our biggest containment problem concerned the Office of Economic Opportunity. It was a tremendous victory when, despite a filibuster of old Southern Senators, the Civil Rights Act followed.

The Act authorized an agency to find employment for the underprivileged and offer food stamps so all those who had fewer opportunities could at least have the inalienable right to minimum nutrition.
The first problem was the appointment of brother-in-law, Sergeant Shriver, to head the office. Once again nepotism charges arose. I used the image of Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table at Camelot to describe Kennedy’s inner circle, but the media used images like a clan or The Klan. I ever found the right image to justify this blatant nepotism. Camelot just never caught on, though we gave it a good shot, even leaking to the press that “Camelot” was the President’s favorite play. The tack failed totally with the public.

The second problem was that some people were abusing the food stamps program unmercifully, even going to the extreme of reading the obituaries and registering for stamps under the names of the deceased. Often the food was sold in a kind of inner city black market and often the spare stamps were used to buy such luxury items as expensive liquor. The press put us on the defensive, and I tried to retaliate.

I spoke of the few exploiters and many benefactors. An old ploy, but based on truth nonetheless, even if not an absolute truth. I quoted studies proving protein deficiency in youth lowers the I.Q., and thus the intellectual potential of poor Americans. I claimed we were fighting juvenile delinquency and the drop-out rate. But juvenile delinquency rose, and the drop-out rate rose, and since Americans spoke of a crisis in education ever since the Sputnik was launched, so many statistics disproving my claims were found that I felt it wise just to ignore the food stamps crisis and hope it would go away.
But the issue wouldn’t go away, and the President’s liberal economic policies, which are based on the modern welfare state, were called into serious question by Goldwater. He was picking up in the polls on this one little issue. The President called me into his office to discuss the dilemma.

“Norm,” he said, “Goldwater’s new slogan worries me. The one that goes ‘In Your Heart You Know He’s Right.’”
“Why does it worry you?”
“Because in my heart I know he’s right.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Look, there are two kinds of economics: Goldwater’s kind and mine, which are liberal for the time being. Liberal economics means taxing people to death to finance pie in the sky social projects that never work. Goldwater’s economics recognize that despite the disgust most people feel towards big business, if big business is healthy, the nation is healthy. In everyone’s hearts they think Goldwater is right and this food stamp business is bringing it all to a head. We have to counter it fast.”

“How can you espouse economics you don’t believe in?”
“Because America is now rich enough to cure its race problems. This is an opportunity that has to be taken advantage of now. Look, my dad was in big business and big business got me where I am. But big business can afford a slack period, the Negroes can’t. I think most Americans feel that , and will vote with their hearts and not their pocketbooks, but I can’t be sure. Please counter the Goldwater strategy.”

It was a big assignment, and it was mine. The President even gave me a staff of idea men, one of whom suggested we play on Goldwater’s Jewish connection and stir up a little anti-Semitism. Needless-to-say he didn’t last long.

Finally Goldwater gave us the issue we needed. Speaking to an audience of American Legionnaires in Philadelphia, he asked why Americans should die for a bunch of ungrateful and even hostile foreigners when one nuclear bomb could send the insurgents packing. Even though Kennedy personally favored such a strategy, he had the wisdom not to articulate it in public. After that the race was on.

First I had a commercial prepared for the World Series spots. A little girl picking petals off a daisy and counting downward with each petal is montaged with a nuclear countdown. Republican protests were so loud the commercial was scrapped from the rest of the series. I asked Sandy Koufax, a distant cousin, if he’d mind objecting to the commercial being taken out. He agreed, and Goldwater’s nuclear policies became small talk for Dizzy Dean and Peewee Reese between pitches.

But the topper was my counter-slogan, “In Your Guts You Know He’s Nuts.” Dick Tuck had the sign prominently appearing at Goldwater rallies throughout the country.
Goldwater was so rattled that he made a statement that was his doom. Visiting a typical family in New England, with the cameras rolling, he thanked them for their hospitality and left saying, “This was a fine opportunity for you both to speak your mind and see if I have one.” That was it. He was pegged a nut.

Even his Vice-Presidential candidate, the charismatic William Miller, stopped campaigning and with two months left before the election took a ten-day trip to Tokyo to see the Olympics. In November Goldwater won the Southwest and overwhelmingly took the Japanese vote. But that was it. My man, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was to be President for four more years.

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Saturday, 7 January 2012



With the campaign over, I was to enlist for Vietnam. I was excited. We were making progress. Every night on the news we saw Vietnamese soldiers fighting side by side with their American superiors looking proudly on. It reminded me of the proud father standing beside his growing son and beaming with pride as his son recites a perfect Haftorah in the Bar Mitzvah ceremony. I was anxious to be a part of the team.

Television took advantage of the nation’s newfound love of their Vietnamese allies. Several shows featuring Vietnamese stars were broadcast, the most famous concerning the Vietnamese army officer who sets up a detective agency in Los Angeles employing three beautiful Vietnamese girls as his detectives. Of course I’m referring to “Charlie’s Charlies”.

Before I was to enlist I was to appear in the Oswald trial being heard in Dallas. I was to be the last witness for the defense. Before I flew to Dallas, this strange case was already world news.
It seemed incredible at the time though time has dulled the sense of incredulity, that a strange conspiracy between the Mafia and the CIA was the guilty party in a Presidential assassination attempt. But that is what the defense, skillfully headed by William Kunstler, was claiming. And more and more this preposterous line of defense was winning out.

Back in the Batista days of Cuba, organized crime used the island for gambling revenues, laundering money, prostitution rings and the like. It was a very profitable place for organized crime, and they wanted the man who threw them out, Fidel Castro, removed.
The CIA, for reasons of national security, also wanted Castro removed, and a group which included skilled agents such as Howard Hunt, Eugene Martinez and Bernard Barker, organized a group of disgruntled refugees into a small militia to retake the island by force.

They turned to organized crime originally for their contacts within Cuba, and their knowledge of the island, which became valuable intelligence material. Later the Mafia, as organized crime is commonly known, took a greater interest in the project and even financed certain aspects of it.
By an odd coincidence the new Attorney General, Bobby Kennedy, began a campaign aimed at eliminating organized crime. Top Mafia chieftains were jailed on any pretext and others harassed day and night.

After the Kennedy Administration refused to militarily support the Bay of Pigs operation, the CIA group decided only a different administration would have the guts to challenge the Marxist cancer in the Caribbean. The Mafia, meanwhile, decided that the Kennedy Administration had to be eliminated. So an alliance of these Bay of Pigs planners was formed.

Organized crime knew how to kill someone coolly, professionally and without getting caught. The CIA knew how to set up a sucker and make him look like a lone, demented assassin. Lee Harvey Oswald had been waiting for an assignment for years. He had a strange cover arranged for him ready to use when the moment required. He was now ordered into action. He would head the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and he would publicize pro-Castro beliefs in the press and on radio.

Why, he did not know, but he obeyed his superiors and was rewarded with his own office in New Orleans and a pay hike to boot.
I testified after a trio of hoods names Roselli, Giancanna and Trafficante. Kunstler tripped them all up, and each took the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination. As a member of the President’s personal staff, I was to appear last to make the best impression on the jury.
I waited in the anteroom until I was called to testify.

I entered the courtroom and saw Marilyn on my right in the third row from the back. She seemed more mature, wearing much rouge and face powder. I smiled at her and then saw Marina seated in the row behind her. I made a compromise—I stared in between them, not committing myself to either and waved. Three people all waved back at me at the same time, Marina, Marilyn and the bag lady I was staring at who usually preferred dirty divorce cases over political conspiracies.

I testified to seeing Oswald at the scene of the crime, with what appeared to be a suspicious package which, when asked, he claimed were curtain rods. Kunstler then asked me to identify a package which, I agreed, looked like the one I had seen Lee carrying. He pulled out a receipt from a hardware store. The rods were purchased on November 22 of 1963.
Then I testified that moments before the attempted assassination I saw Lee in the second floor cafeteria drinking a Coke, not in the seventh floor shooting gallery.

This really saved the case. Lee was seen away from anywhere a President could be shot from. A Presidential aide had said so and that was alibi enough. The jury freed him after only a thirty-minute debate.
After hearing his verdict the ebullient Lee insisted I join him and his “wife” for celebration drinks when things quieted down, maybe the next day. I took his number, which I knew by heart anyway, as Marilyn came up to me and kissed my cheek for the first time in months. He looked at her and said, “And please bring your pretty friend with you.”
“Great,” I said, “I’ll call tomorrow.”
Marina hugged her jubilant “husband” while staring over his shoulder at me. I hoped she would be discrete tomorrow.

Lee was something of a national hero by the time we all met for drinks the next night at the Carousel Club. Jack insisted on serving our table personally.
“Congratulations, Mr. Oswald,” said Ruby. “I hear they’re going to make a movie of your story.”
“The news is out already?”
“Sure. They even named the actor who’s gong to play you.”
“Cliff Robertson.”

Jack presented a photo of Lee he clipped out of a magazine. “Mr. Oswald, I’d be honored if you’d sign this photo. I’d like to display it on my wall beside the picture of Jimmy Hoffa, another frequent patron.”
“Sure, Jack. What should I write?”
Jack gave him a pen and said, “Please write, ‘To Jack Ruby from his good friend Lee Harvey Oswald.’”“Sure, Jack, my pleasure.”

Marina and I shared a secret together. Neither of us was altogether successful in feigning unfamiliarity. Our self-conscious attempts at coldness revealed our true feelings for each other. Marina kept the conversation light. “You have a lovely red glow in your complexion,” she told Marilyn.
“Thank you.”
“It’s so rare for a hot climate. Do you use borscht?”
Oh no, I thought. Marilyn would put two and two together.
“I did once but I found it too harsh,” she answered.
Fortunately Lee changed the subject. “Norman, Jack Anderson told me you’re going to enlist in the army.”
Marilyn looked shocked.
“I’m sorry,” I told her. “No one’s supposed to know yet. Someone must have leaked it to him.”
“Why, Norman, why?” she asked somewhat desperately.
“Because the man I serve called our country to support him in a just war, and I’m answering his call.”

She sat silently. Lee became agitated. “Norm” he said, “When Anderson told me that I got to thinking. I wasn’t a very good Marine, and I let people use me. Now it’s time I showed I’m a real American, not a friend of Castro’s. They could use a good radio instructor in Nam, what do you figure?”
“I’m sure they could,” I answered.
“Well, I think I’ll re-enlist and maybe join you there.”
Marina and Marilyn stared at each other with great emotion. Lee and I both felt it. Was it because they shared the common grief of sending their men to war, or was it deeper than that? I tried not looking at Marina although Lee kept staring at Marilyn. And not only into her eyes. Lower even. But Marilyn just kept staring at Marina.

Jack disturbed the unpleasant, pregnant silence with a note which he said a friend of mine had asked him to deliver. I read it:
“Congratulations. You won the election. Bet your folks are very happy. Remember, first safe opportunity.”
- Jimmy

“What is it, honey?” asked Marilyn. She never called me honey before. Was this the sign of better things for tonight, the last time I would see her before going to war?
As it turned out, no. Marilyn shared the same archaic view as I, that no man respected a woman whose virtue was in doubt. I ripped up the note and said, “Let’s get out of here. It’s getting crowded.”
“But the strippers are starting soon,” said Marilyn.
“Yeah, Norm,” agreed Lee. “What about the strippers you promised us?”
“Lee, I want you to look me up in Nam when you get there. But tonight Marilyn and I have important things to discuss.”
“We do?” asked Marilyn.
“You do?” said Marina.
“Yes, we do,” I told them both and stormed out of the club.

Of course we didn’t, but too much was on my mind. The pressure was getting to me. The next day on the way to the airport I said to Marilyn, “When I get back, maybe we should, you know?”
“Get married?”
“No, I mean, you know?”
“What do you mean, you know?”
“Yeah, I meant maybe get married for, oh, you know?”
“Children and a family.”
“Yeah, you know.”

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Friday, 6 January 2012



I must say my enlistment was not a quiet affair. I appeared on the Vaughan Meader Show. A surprise guest, President Kennedy, showed up and presented me with a mezuzah, saying after he hoped it would bring me home safely and protect me all my days.

Ironically Vaughan Meader began his career imitating John Kennedy. The success of his First Family album led him to a career as a talk show host after Jack Paar left the “Tonight Show”. Three people were up for the lucrative job: him, Woody Woodbury and Johnny Carson. Woodbury was deemed a bit too racy and Carson refused to leave his highly acclaimed afternoon show, “Who Do You Trust?”

So Meader got the post after stealing Ed McMahon from Carson to host the new “Tonight Show”. Unfortunately, that chemistry wasn’t right, and McMahon left the show to head the publicity department of Schlitz beer, and Meader broke new ground by having a hostless talk show.

Meader’s success spurned offshoots. The notoriously depraved comic, Lenny Bruce, found great success with this sketch:
John Kennedy is supposed to host Ray Charles for lunch at the White House. But just before Ray arrives, a major crisis with the Russians calls him away. He doesn’t want to disappoint Ray, who came all the way from Atlanta to visit him, so he calls Vaughan Meader and asks him to sit in for him and pretend he’s the President. Ray wouldn’t know the difference anyway. Vaughan, who is pretty eccentric, agrees.

“What an honor to meet you, Mr. President,” Ray tells Vaughan.
“The honor is all mine,” says Vaughan in an exaggerated imitation of Kennedy. “You have a wonderful sense of rhythm and are a credit to your race.”
“Thank you. And how is Jackie?”
“Jackie who?”
“Your wife, Jackie.”
“Oh, she’s fine. She’s pregnant again.”
“But she just gave birth last week.”
“Oh yes. Well, we don’t believe in wasting time around here.”
“And how’s your daughter, Caroline?”
“Oh, she’s getting ready for college.”
“But she’s only three.”
“I see. Yes. Well, it takes her a long time to get ready.”

The President loved Meader’s First Family and despised Bruce’s misguided monologues. But in a free country anyone can express themselves as they choose, and ironically Bruce’s career is still going strong while Meader eventually faded into relative obscurity, finally taking work as a sign assembler in Portland, Maine.

Also on the show was a rock and roll group called the Beatles. I met them backstage and took a liking to their witty spokesman, Ringo Starr. He thought they should have been more popular than they were and assumed that America wasn’t ready for their unique contribution. “The times are against us,” he said. And I guess he was right. How could these mopheads compete with the genius of a Bobby Rydell or Connie Francis?

Kennedy’s appearance on the show was a triumph. He was both dignified and playful. He replaced Ringo on the drums for a rousing though off-beat version of a song called “Twist and Shout”. And when the time came to present my mezuzah, he was austere, and prepared, even offering a prayer in badly enunciated Hebrew. For this he received some mild applause that was prolonged by the Jews in the studio audience led by Brian Epstein, the manager of Ringo and his band.

The next day I enlisted, possibly the first enlistment to be recorded on television since Elvis Presley’s. I hoped I would not share the same fate as Presley who is still recovering from his shrapnel wounds.
Shortly after my enlistment, the President declared war on Vietnam officially and whether through my example partly or just the President’s, half a million more young men volunteered for service the following week.

The White House had planned a fine good-bye party for me, and I would be taking a guest. Jack Ruby was in town, he claimed on business, and begged me to let him meet the President. How could I refuse? He was my girlfriend’s employer after all.
The party was, as they say in the movies, a gala affair. The President spared no expense and what a guest list was prepared! There to wish me luck were the likes of Averil Harriman, Arthur Goldberg, Cardinal Cushing, Adam Clayton Powell and Shelly Fabares.

I introduced Ruby to the President and he was gushing with praise. He said it was the most memorable day of his life and thanked the President effusively for taking the time to greet him. The President gave the old any friend of Norm’s reply but seemed astounded when Ruby said, “Norm is really becoming a top aide to you, huh?”
“He’s become very valuable, indeed,” said the President. I blushed in gratitude.
“But he’s more than just an aide, isn’t he?” asked Ruby.
“What do you mean?”
“The more he works with you, the more you two resemble each other.”
“Thank you, Mr. Ruby. It was a pleasure meeting you.”
“Why, my friend, Mr. Hoffa, says you’re practically like brothers.”
The President’s face joined me in blush and he walked away quickly. I was ashamed of Jack for pumping my importance up so much. The President liked me, but what was this brother business of Jack’s? And why mention Hoffa when Ruby was aware that Bobby was committed to convicting him within two years?

But other than this incident, my send-off was inspiring. My Service at the beginning was less so. As a child I hated both Phys Ed class and summer camp. The army was a perfect combination of both. But, against my will, I was put into an officer’s training course. I would have been satisfied being an ordinary foot soldier, but the army insisted on promoting my advancement. Though we have an egalitarian force, my being a Presidential aide possibly influenced my advancement to rank of second lieutenant by the time I arrived in Vietnam.

No war is good, but the camaraderie and sense of purpose made this one special. Our enemy from the North fought too valiantly and was prepared to take upon himself too much personal sacrifice. In fact, the war was being fought to a draw until Kennedy announced his trade embargo on the Soviet Union, the Viet Cong’s chief supplier. The President convinced even food exporters like Argentina, Australia and Canada to obey his call for an embargo, and eventually food shortages in Moscow meant arms shortages in Hanoi.

But China filled the vacuum just as the Soviet Union seemed ready to talk peace, or at least, settlement. It was then that the President ordered his two-pronged offensive. I led my unit in the invasion of North Vietnam at Na Tinh, just north of the eighteenth parallel, joined by Australian, Thai, Korean and New Zealand forces. By the time the two-pronged attack was over we had formed an effective barrier across the 17th parallel into Laos, cutting off the North Vietnamese men and material to the South and we had invaded the North, establishing an impregnable beachhead that threatened Hanoi itself.

Of course, in this invasion I was wounded as my Jeep drove over a mine. I felt tremendous guilt lying in the hospital while my unit shared the glory of victorious achievement, but I was fortunate enough to share a hospital room with Cassius Clay, a boxer who had served with great distinction in Nam but whose career was to end because of disfigurement of his face, arms and hands. A modest fellow by nature, I never heard a peep of disappointment from him though I’m certain his anguish was well-hidden. He just read Milton and Keats and spoke of the day when he could walk to church by himself, like he was so fond of doing in Louisville.

Lee was a great comfort to me, and when the World Series began, he got a ten-day furlough to come watch it with me. Were it not for the glories of the Telstar satellite, this war would have been unbearable for the men. But television and war became natural allies. While it beamed Dr. Kildare and Hazel to us, it also beamed bravery and good spirits back to the U.S.
I introduced my friend to my roommate. “Lee Harvey Oswald, I’d like to make your acquaintance with Cassius Clay.”
“Hey,” Lee said, “Didn’t I see you fight Chuvalo?”
“Yeah, but that was a long time ago.”
“You were great. The guy’s a Mack truck, but you pulverized him.”
“Yeah. He had an iron jaw and no punch. I flew like a butterfly and I stung like a bee.”
“So, who do you think’s gonna take the series?”
“I give it to the Dodgers. Koufax and Drysdale together can’t be beat.”

I interrupted to disagree. The Twins were the most exciting team in recent American League history. What an outfield led by today’s Hall of Famer, Bob Allison! And what an infield! Zoilo at short, Harmon at first, and the greatest hitter of modern times, Richie Rollins, at third. As for the mound, Earl Battey could barely hold onto Jimmy Kitty Kaat’s knucklers or the sliding fastball of Negro pitcher Mudcat Grant.

My instincts were better, but not by much. The Series went seven games. Killebrew could not hit off Koufax, but on the first pitch of the bottom of the tenth inning at Dodger Stadium, Jimmy Hall sent a curve ball into the second row of the right field bleachers, and it was all over. The Twins dynasty had begun.

When I was recovered enough to walk, I acted as a White House liaison for special visitors. I hosted Lyndon Johnson and his aide Walter Jenkins, who insisted on saving taxpayer’s money by staying at the Saigon YMCA. Later Bob Hope led his band of beauties for a USO show, and I was asked to host him.
I remembered Lee taking his whole furlough to help me recover, and I saw an opportunity to repay him. I knew he loved Bob Hope, and I’d arrange a backstage seat for him. He was thrilled but this led to our first altercation. It was, of course, over a girl.

Bob brought beautiful women to boost our soldiers’ morale, and besides Miss America he brought the lovely and leggy star of “Barbarella”, Jane Fonda, with his show. We met her at rehearsal, and Lee immediately decided he had to meet her personally. Unfortunately, that was my idea as well.
“You’re married,” I told Lee. “What about Marina?”
“I fake married her because the CIA made me. If you leave me alone with Jane, I’ll let you have her when we get back.”

This was admittedly tempting, but Jane was here and Marina was there so I fought for Jane. Lee rushed to her after she finished her shtick with Bob.
“I loved you in ‘Tall Story,’” he said. “It was a brilliant film.”
I arrived and said, “I thought ‘Any Wednesday’ was better. Especially the “she has an unusual name, Elaine,” scene.”
“Boys, boys, you’re both right. Both films were marvels of comic timing.”
Though we fought over her at first, I won in the end. She heard I stayed at a military hospital in Saigon until I was fit again for battle, and she just had to visit me there. I was told later that her publicized visit to my Saigon hospital was a publicity coup for her back home.

Unfortunately China’s material, if not actual, physical, support was beginning to undo the President’s good work and that of his scrupulous General, Westmoreland. The insurgents had succeeded in gaining control of the countryside around Saigon, and the capital was literally under siege.
It was at this moment that Kennedy arrived and gave his famed “I am a Saigoner” speech and threatened a nuclear attack on China if the insurgents did not cross the 17th parallel immediately.

Talk about brinkmanship working. China had exploded a bomb, and that may have been its only one. And it had no way to reach America by either plane or missile. There was tension, of course, when she threatened to nuke Saigon, as Kennedy had calculated, but she relented in the face of overwhelming superiority and the insurgents went home. I can now reveal that this was because of a face-saving plan by Kennedy. He agreed privately to send all American troops home in return for China’s promise not to interfere with the South. So China claimed it threw out the Americans. We claimed we saved the Southern democracy, and the war ended.

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.