There’s an interview with Caroline Kennedy in today’s Parade magazine. She has a book coming out this month based on eight hours of interviews historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. conducted with her mother Jacqueline Kennedy.
Here’s the part that caught my eye and heart:
Did your parents read to you as a child?
My mom did when I was younger. I don’t remember my father reading to me, but I remember him telling me bedtime stories. I got to pick what was in them, and then he’d make them up.
Tell me more.
They were adventure stories. I had two ponies in them—one was black with a white star and one was white with a black star, and they were called White Star and Black Star. I could pick who rode the other one. Mostly I picked my cousin Stevie. [Now a business executive, Stephen Kennedy Smith Jr. is the son of Jean Kennedy Smith, the sister of John F. Kennedy, and the late Stephen Smith.]
Were you always the heroine?
Of course. [laughs] Well, would you want to go to bed thinking that Stevie Smith had triumphed over you? No! My father was spectacular at making up stories. And he used to tell me about a purple shark.
A purple shark?
Yes, he said there was a purple shark that used to follow the Honey Fitz [the small presidential yacht]. It liked to eat socks. My father would make people throw their socks overboard, and they’d disappear. He’d say, “See? See? Did you see the purple shark? He ate the socks!” And I’d go [gasps like a child], “I don’t really see him. Oh, oh, I think I see him! Look, the socks are gone, so it must have been the shark that ate the socks!” Those stories were fantastic.
An amazing and lovely reminder. The stories we create and tell our children — no matter how simple, no matter how fantastic, no matter what they are — have incredible power to make an impression that lasts a lifetime. I’m especially taken by the reminder of how to create magic with stories by bringing a part into action like JFK did with the socks.