At the start of this personal, unique album of family pictures is a typed note from Rose Kennedy asking her children to stop removing photographs as if they don't, "it will not be interesting" to people. It's hard to imagine that this rare collection could be less than fascinating, but thank heavens Rose wrote it when she did. This album, which begins with childhood pictures of Rose and Joseph P. Kennedy and ends with JFK's congressional campaign is more than the sum of its parts. Though the book is filled with comments, quotes, letters and snapshots, it's the continuity and the passage of time that fascinates.
Here, for example is Rose, smiling wide with her tiny children. Here's another of her skating with her husband and looking like a teenager, though she has five or six children. These pictures are so strikingly different from the dignified icon we saw in later years. Early pictures of Joseph, with his small children are equally surprising. He's handsome, and for the first ten or twelve years of their marriage he is there a lot, on the beach, sitting on the steps of a beach rental.
Later as time goes on, it's Rose's daughters who look carefree, and Joe is not around so much. But there are touching notes from him to his wife, and funny pictures with pets,lots of pets. Everyone wears wonderful clothes. Pictures of little girls in perfect matching hats. In most old photos from the twenties mens's suits look rumpled, many women look dumpy. Not these women! Not these suits.
The Kennedys had great cameras. Many if these pictures, taken a hundred years ago, look crisp and bright, as though they were shot last week. The letters and notes add a lot as does the introduction and comments by Caroline Kennedy.
Apparently this album is one of fifty owned by the Kennedy library. I completely enjoyed it. I hope that more of the collection is published someday.