JACKIE'S FINAL PERFORMANCE

Manchester describes how Jackie chose the grave site:
"Her first visit to Arlington [following the assassination] was like the opening of the final act of Our Town. The steady rain was glacial, numbing. The arrival of the commander in chief's widow raised martial chivalry to a new pitch, and she stood beneath massed umbrellas, contemplating the silent scene for 15 minutes. "She remembered her intuitive flash of nearly three years before. She reflected how lovely the Robert E. Lee Mansion could be when you drive across the Memorial Bridge and saw it all lit up."
She saw history in the making. Jackie Kennedy, even in her grief, was able to look ahead and make a decision which would secure her a place in history. Manchester's 700-page book was a blockbuster hit upon publication in 1967. It sold 558,419 copies in bookstores and another 812,813 through the Book-of-the-Month Club. An additional 314,000 copies were sold in 11 foreign countries for which records were available. There are currently no figures available about paperback sales.

As Mary Schmich wrote in the Chicago Tribune: "We knew her face as we knew our own from magazine covers, tabloid photos and too many lousy docudramas."

Jackie's entire life was played by the rules she set down. We know of only one interview other than the ones she granted to Manchester. The second came this past year in a trade journal titled Publisher's Weekly. She did it only because of her job of editing books at Bantam-Doubleday. But even on this occasion, Jackie gave orders that there were to be no cameras or tape recorders, and she also demanded the right to approve any quotes that were to be used.

The general public really doesn't even know what she looked like at the time of her death. Whenever she was photographed, she was wearing a scarf and oversize sunglasses. For all we know, she hadn't changed from the last time we all saw her in Dallas in that pink Chanel suit. She had begun that fateful ride in Dallas as a first lady and finished it as a legend. We know that in her work as a senior editor at Doubleday, she came to the office three days a week and ate a lunch of carrot sticks or celery at her desk. Her fellow workers insist she was a marvelous editor who really remembers what books she edited. Her spending habits on clothes and makeup reached mythical dimensions. Is it any wonder then that we remember how smart Jackie always looked?

Who remembers anything about the clothes of Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Rosalynn Carter or Barbara Bush?

And yet Jack and Jackie brought something to the White House that we have not seen there since.

There was a night that playwright Tennessee Williams, actress Julie Harris, novelist Saul Bellow and conductor Leonard Bernstein were guests. On another occasion, dozens of Nobel Prize winners were entertained at a single sitting.

For President Kennedy's funeral, Jackie was warned by church authorities that Washington's St. Matthew's was too small. "I don't care," she said. Then, speaking of the visiting dignitaries, she said, "They can all stand in the streets if they have to."

At her own funeral in New York City on Monday, the general public was forbidden entrance to the church. Arlington National Cemetery was closed to the public for the day, too. In the end, she made everyone stand in the streets for her own funeral. When it was announced that Jackie would be buried alongside her first husband at Arlington National Cemetery, a final piece of the puzzle fell into place. It became apparent Jackie had planned for this eventuality more than 30 years ago--the weekend of the assassination. So her arrangements with Onassis and Maurice Tempelsman never had permanent status. Onassis and Tempelsman were merely stations of the cross on her way to her place in history. Her destination had always been Arlington and the vacant space at the side of President Kennedy. The journey to Dallas was finally ended. But Camelot lives.

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