Joan McHale Reporting- Jan.31, 1961 On President Kennedy's First Address


WASHINGTON -- While President Kennedy painted the 1961 picture as bleak gray to black in his State of the Union Address Monday, his family provided splashes of color in the Executive Gallery.

With a smile as warm as her plum-colored suit, (photo on P. 24) the First Lady went to her front row seat, as members of Congress stood to applaud her arrival.

HER BLACK SILK PILLBOX was tilted back on her smooth bouffant hair-do. She wore black pumps and purse to play off the vivid outfit.

Her mother, Mrs. Hugh Auchincloss, wore a teal blue coat with black framed shawl collar and a black velvet head-hugging hat.

Hatless Ethel Kennedy doffed her full-length fur coat to show her pink nubby wool suit, semi-fitted, and tied at the left shoulder. She was so exhilarated she lost a bangle from her gold bracelet as she clapped enthusiastically for her brother-in-law.



WASHINGTON -- Consider the plight of the Pennsylvanian sobbing her heart out at the Roger Smith Hotel.

It was 11:30 Thursday night and she had given up trying to hail a taxi to take her to the Inaugural Gala at the Armory. "I spent $2,000 on my dress, and now no one will see it," she moaned.
She wasn't alone. Thousands of Gala ticket-holders were stranded in hotels by one of the worst snowstorms ever to bollux traffic in the nation's capital. Some of the formally gowned wouldn't be snowed by the stinging, biting blizzard. Some got to the Armory in cars that rode the sidewalks. Streets were jammed with cars abandoned by their drivers during the blizzard.

Calling the storm "Nixon's Revenge," they gathered in impromptu sip-and-sup sessions and called out, "Who needs Sinatra? We'll have our own gala." Gowns were visibly damaged while ladies alighted from buses and almost non-existent cabs.

One elegant grand dame in an elegant swish-of-gown quipped as she entered the Armory: "I regret that I have but one gown to give to my country!"

for the New Frontiers looked more like a scene from "Lost Horizons" as snow swirled up to envelop the principals on the platform. As smoke curled in front of fur-wrapped Marian Anderson, scurried activity was evident. She was getting steamed up with "America the Beautiful" when it appeared the lectern was burning. Someone observed that a fitting encore would be, "I Don't Want To Set the World On Fire."

Leotards, leggings and ski outfits were de rigeur along Pennsylvania Avenue when women abandoned hope of appearing chic while parade-watching. Many appeared pounds heavier after adding three and four sweaters under their real and fake furs.

Among those who decided at the last minute to view inaugural festivities in front of the television sets, conversations dealt with money down the drain for gala or parade seats never used. "I knew there'd be some changes made in the new administration," said New York socialite Rene St. John, "but I didn't think they'd come so soon."

ONLY THE WEATHERMAN could write a script which combined so many comical studies with a serious occasion. In one of the first rows of viewers at President Kennedy's swearing-in ceremonies, a man stood attired in a trench coat, hunting boots and a silk hat. Wrapped in a mink coat and an army blanket was Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.

AT THE ANGIER BIDDLE DUKE cocktail-buffet, the Edwin Shelleys and Lloyd Seidmans, of New Rochelle, N.Y., told Myrna Loy how they had inadvertently led the Inaugural Parade. "We cut the ceremonies early and headed for our Bentley. When we started down the avenue and looked back, we saw the Kennedy's following us. Everyone was waving and we waved back."

"We almost went to the Gala in a truck," said pretty Mrs. John Costello, whose husband publishes the Lowell (Mass.) Sun. A full-length chinchilla coat kept New York socialite Lenora Corbett warm; her long slim wine velvet gown glittered with silver.
ARMONY BALL-GOERS were still arriving at 1:30 a.m., having abandoned cabs which had inched along for hours. "Won't the dry cleaners clean up!", observed a Chicago visitor whose red peau de soie gown and white satin pumps were "ruined!" Many galoshed in, toting their dancing pumps in hand.

Once inside, the ball was like a mob scene at Madison Square Garden. Bands played on but dancing was minimal. Everyone stared at the balcony where the Kennedys were seated. Jackie Kennedy spent considerable time talking to her mother, Mrs. Hugh Auchincloss, in the second row. Her ecru satin gown with beaded bodice and beige satin stole complemented her daughter's all-white ensemble.

Blonde and tanned Claire Boothe Luce in the adjoining box, wore white satin with silver appliques, and box-pleated skirt. Despite the deep cold, spring hats topped warmest winter coats. Everybody seemed to have a mink coat. Big, shawl-collared coats like Mrs. Lyndon Johnson's looked not only smart but comfortable in the cold. All the Kennedy sisters had on full-length minks.

THE MUFF turned out as another practical and smart fashion. Perhaps its endorsement by Jacqueline Kennedy will give this fur accessory another go-around. It couldn't be beat for comfort when standing for hours in the cold.

Kenneth of Lilly Dache, Mrs. Kennedy's hairdresser, wearily returning to New York on the morning after, reported he was kept at the White House until 10:30 p.m. on the night of the Inaugural Ball. (No wonder they arrived so late.) His versatile hairdo for Jacqueline is sketched on the adjacent page. He was wearing a fur hat made for him by Dache in dark mink, a Russian style cap.

One of the nicest souvenirs of the inauguration, a pocketbook called "Jacqueline Kennedy" by Deane and David Heller, published by Monarch Books, which made its appearance at all the drug stores in Washington, was a sell-out. And everybody reading the Ladies Home Journal, with its first of a four-part series on the First Lady, seems destined to be a sell-out.   BY JOAN McHALE

Could A Handful Of Berries Each Day Keep The Cardiologist At Bay?

A study shows that women who eat blueberries and strawberries most days of the week can sharply reduce their risk of heart attack.

Researcher followed 93,000 young and middle-aged women or 18 years. Those who ate more than three half-cup servings of blueberries and strawberries for a week were 32% less likely to have heart attacks in later years.
The health benefits may come from anthocyanins, antioxidants that create the red, blue and purple color in strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits and vegetables.

But women who ate more berries also reported other healthy habits, such as exercising and refraining from smoking.

Berry good news, which hopefully offsets the figure of 14 million women who binge drink three times a month, consuming an average of six drinks per binge. You come unhinged, baby.


BECAUSE JACKIE KENNEDY AVOIDED THE PRESS CORPS SO MUCH, I ENJOYED MAKING CHIN MUSIC WITH BESS ABELL, who ran Lady Bird's office when LBJ was Vice President. We became good friends and she even called me for lunch when they came to Miami. Bess is a crackerjack, doesn't meet a stranger. 

Back in Miami when President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, I sent condolences and wrote to Bess asking to do an interview with her. I still have her letter on White House stationery:

 Left to Right: Bess Abell, Lady Bird Johnson, Tyler Abell, Lyndon Abell, Dan Abell, and President Lyndon B. Johnson sitting in the Yellow Oval Room for the appointment of Tyler Abell becoming Chief of Protocol. September 25, 1968.