Society Dreams: Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

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Looking west across the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Photo: JH.

Thursday, February 22, 2024. Feels like March which is only a week away; cold and cloudy, maybe soon the forsythia in the Park will bloom among the brown and rust of what was Winter.

Dreams and the secrets behind them. Today is the second installment of Lauren Lawrence’s Society Dreams. This week she’s featuring the dream of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

Lee Bouvier, with her older sister Jacqueline Bouvier.

This is particularly appropriate since Lauren’s introductory piece last week was from a “dream” recounted to her by Jackie’s sister Lee Bouvier Radziwill who was four years younger than her big sister.

Lee’s dream was told to Lauren when she was in her mid-80s at a time very close to the end of her life. Jackie’s dream, however, was one that she had early in life, when still in her youth.

Where Lee’s was essentially a memory of the earlier part of her life, Jackie’s dream occurred in youth but imagining a kind of a youthful maturing, recognizing things for what they are defined by.

The sisters’ mother and father, Janet and Jack Bouvier, had a very difficult relationship. When they married in 1928, she was 21 and he was 39. It was a first marriage for both, although he had a previous engagement several years before and was canceled before the wedding.

Jack Bouvier and Janet Lee Bouvier with daughter Jacqueline Bouvier at the Sixth Annual Horse Show of the Southampton Riding and Hunt Club. Image provided by Getty Images.

He was a member of a French descended family where his grandfather created and built a very successful business. John Bouvier III was active and successful in the stock market in the 1920s. Although the crash in ’29 — also the year of his daughter Jackie’s birth — brought along the eventual end of his financial prosperity.

At that time, the young family was living at 740 Park Avenue, a new luxury apartment building built by Janet’s father James T. Lee. The strain on the world outside — the stock market — began to occur although for the young Bouviers they continued to live as accustomed, along with the Summers in East Hampton and young Jackie’s introduction to horseback riding. The photographs of mother-daughter-father are no indication of problems.

Within the next few years of the early ‘30s, the Bouvier marriage was already in trouble in the eyes of those close to them. There was also the problem of his drinking. His generation did not regard alcoholism as even existent. Although, a habit? Yes. They could recognize a drunk but regarded it as a characteristic of the drunk’s background and mentality. Nevertheless, it was always a matter of concern. By the late 1930s, he was known as “Black Jack” Bouvier in the press and among friends, named after the famous financial card game. A gamblin’ man, too.

By 1940, Black Jack had moved into a small bachelor’s apartment on East 73rd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues, just two blocks away from the 16-room duplex apartment he shared with his wife and daughters. The big life was over. The marriage ended and Mrs. married Hugh D. Auchincloss, a very rich investor, with whom she remained to the end of her life — and in the style to which she was naturally accustomed.

Janet Lee Bouvier (holding baby Janet Auchincloss) and husband Hugh D. Auchincloss, Jr., with Hugh’s son Tommy Auchincloss between them. Behind them, counter-clockwise from right, are step-siblings Caroline Lee Bouvier, Hugh D. “Yusha” Auchincloss, III, Jacqueline Bouvier, and Nina Gore Auchincloss, 1946.

A dream is a wish your heart makes … Our esteemed dream investigator/analyst, Lauren Lawrence, is back this week with a dream she learned of through Jackie’s stepbrother, Hugh D. Auchincloss. He told Lauren about this recurring dream of Jackie’s. She had shared her dream during their summer visit to the medieval walled town of Carcassonne in Southern France, years before she married.

SOCIETY DREAMS by Lauren Lawrence

The Dream: Since childhood, I have had a recurring dream that I was all alone on a train on my way to some unknown destination, and when I arrived, I was immediately and wonderfully crowned as the Queen of the traveling circus. I remember thinking how real everything felt. 

The Interpretation: During times when parental pressures became too great for her to bear, a recurring dream emerged as a coping mechanism: Jacqueline ran away from home. In a prophetic sense, the world called.

Leaving home at such a young age of parental dependency for places unknown — the traveling circus —reveals the dreamer’s fierce independence, an imperious persona, an adventurous streak, and the droll recognition that wherever one goes in life, they bring the circus with them.

There is a pre-ordained sense of accomplishment and self worth: The dreamer is crowned Queen. More astonishing is that the dreamer reigns over a traveling circus, an extravagant spectacle inclusive of Highwire acts and dangerous performances wherein the crack of a whip makes lions jump through hoops of fire and makes the audience gasp. In retrospect, a motorcade — a grim, electrifying day in Dallas — comes to mind.

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