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Fifth Generation

EMAIL TO ANN

EDITH HELEN nee ASHFORD
09 November 1889 - 05 May 1964

 

The beaded necklace my grandmother is wearing looks like the amber beads that Grandpa sent her from Mesopotamia. I still have the necklace - Ann

Edith (known as Eda at that time) with the family

Note from Ann, Edith's granddaughter.

My Grandmother was a personal friend of Lord and Lady Tedder. They gave the then Jacqueline Bouvier an introduction to Edith with a view to Edith becoming the housekeeper for the soon-to-be newly-weds, John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier.
As it turned out my grandmother was not employed at all in the USA. I have copied exactly as written, Jacqueline's correspondence below for explanation.

Letter One

August 3, 1953

Dear Mrs Klitz.

      I am Jacqueline Bouvier, Mrs Hugh D. Auchincloss' daughter. I have seen your letters to my mother and stepfather - and I think it would be wonderful if you could work for me next winter. But I thought first I had better explain the situation, so that each of us can decide if it could work out well

      I am getting married in September and we plan to live in Washington. But we wont be moving there till January, as my fiance is in the Senate, and Congress doesn't open till then. I understand you wanted to come over earlier - so that is the first draw-back

      We are going to live in a house in Georgetown (a residential section of Washington) - though we haven't got it yet. Joyce can tell you what Georgetown houses are like. They are old and fairly small - 4 bedrooms, living room, dining room, study - very pretty from the front - rather like houses on Montpelier St.

      I will try to explain what it would be like - working for us. In the first place - I don't know ONE THING about housekeeping - I don't know how to cook, how to market, how to plan menus, how often you should change the sheets - or anything! I want to learn all those things as fast as I can - and I thought you would be such a help because you would know them all and could teach me.

      Another thing I had better warn you about is something I'm beginning to find out myself - living with a politician can be terribly hectic and irregular - Jack will often be very late for dinner - or appear with several unexpected friends. You sounded as if you would know how to deal with this - and not be too upset - having worked with movie stars!
Then quite often we will go away for a few days - when he goes on speaking trips - Again - you sounded as if you would be perfect to leave the house with. When we are home I suppose we will do a moderate amount of entertaining - where I pray you will be able to help me do it easily and attractively - and the rest of the time, as we're just married - and our life is hectic anyway - we will want a certain amount of privacy - which I know you will understand.

      In Georgetown you can hire colored help by the day. I can get someone like that to come in and clean, do laundry etc. But what I would really like to know is if besides cooking, you would be willing to do certain other things around the house - like taking care of my clothes a little - pressing a dress, or maybe a suit for Jack - Every day do you think you could press the clothes we would wear that night - and do you think you could turn down the beds etc - as you will be the only other person besides us living in the house?

      I shouldn't think it would be too much work - taking care of a young couple - but I wanted you to know before you came that it wouldn't be just cooking. You would be housekeeper too, in a way - because I don't know enough about that yet - and a little bit of a ladies maid - which is the one point I'm afraid you might not like. The work would never get heavy for you - because I can always get people in to help - cleaning as I said - or to help you in the kitchen when we are having a dinner. The people one can hire in Georgetown often don't know too much - so you would have to direct them - and direct me how to direct you to direct them -! so I'll know how when you're gone - I hope you don't mind working with colored people.

      The nice thing about living in Georgetown - is that it is so close to anything you might want to do - stores - movies - There are buses right outside the door - Where my family lives in Virginia, and where the Tedders lived is out in the country, and you might feel rather marooned.

      I think you could be happy with us - I should think it would be much better for you to care for a couple without any children - than say cooking for a large household. I would do my best to see that you were happy in Washington - I was just thinking of friends for you - Miss Stratton - who takes care of my little brother and sister - is terribly nice - ask Joyce about her - she's British - and she has a car - and lots of friends - so you wouldn't be lonely.

      If you understand that it would be a trifle irregular - sometimes more work than you expected - sometimes less - sometimes none - when we're away - then everything will be fine. It is better to have all that out at first - than lure you here under false pretenses - why don't you write me if you like the idea - and if you do - in the next letter we can go into all the details of visa's ships etc.

      Very sincerely -
            Jacqueline Bouvier

                  Hammersmith Farm
                        Newport
                              Rhode Island.

The White House envelope

As well as the letters, the envelope contained a souvenir issue magazine, February 1961 of Jacqueline Kennedy - pictures, fashions and her children

Letter two

HAMMERSMITH FARM
NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND

Dear Mrs Klitz

      I received your terribly nice letter - It sounds as if things will work out wonderfully. I spoke to my stepfather about your visa and sponsor problems - and he said the best thing to do would be to have my fiance write to the American Embassy in London. As he is a Senator it should make things a lot easier.

      Jack is in Europe now - He won't be back till Sept 1 - but as soon as he is - I will tell him - and see that he gets a letter off before the wedding - He will know how to be much more efficient about it than I do - & when you come & how will all become less complicated - I'm certain.

      So please don't worry if you don't hear from us for a while - I will attend to everything before I get married - then I'll write you when I get back from my wedding trip - I have to find a house & have things done to it before January - but as soon as its ready - maybe you could come - I'm looking forward to our winter!

      Very sincerely

            Jacqueline Bouvier

The late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Letter three

HYANNISPORT
MASSACHUSETTS

Dear Mrs Klitz

      I have been meaning to write to you for weeks - but there was nothing definite to tell you - and I kept hoping things would work out. But everything has been very confused and it now looks as if we will be living in an apartment hotel this winter - while looking for a house to buy - and I'm afraid that means we can't bring you to America. I feel so terribly - for getting your hopes up - and then having it come to nothing.

      We were so hoping we could find a house - then have you come live with us - but there just aren't any on the market now - and we feel it is best to wait and live someplace where housekeeping is easy.

      But please don't get discouraged - I promise you that as soon as I am back in Washington in January I will do everything in my power to find someone who would love to have you come over. My mother and I will combine our efforts - and we should be able to find some family where you will be very happy. That is the best we can do for you after this false alarm -

      I do pray things will work out - In the meantime - please don't worry - and if there is anything I can do for you please write to me - the best address - as we move around so much, is care of my mother:
          Mrs John F. Kennedy,
             c/o Mrs H. D. Auchincloss
              McLean
                  Virginia, USA.

      Very sincerely

            Jacqueline Kennedy

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Edith Helen nee Ashford