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Lot 201

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Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. at Harvard in Drag!

JOSEPH P. KENNEDY JR. Archive of ten items, including one handwritten and two typed letters with envelopes, five photographs, a newspaper clipping, and a club guest pass, c. 1937-1941. Envelopes torn on opening; all other items very good. From the collection of Ronald Hoskins, assassinologist.

In March 1937, Harvard’s Pi Eta Club produced the musical comedy “On the Level” at the clubhouse. Four of the photographs and the clipping feature images of Joseph Kennedy Jr. and other athletes in female dress preparing for performances and dancing. Kennedy wore a curly blond wig, a pink and green ballet costume, and dance shoes and “went in heavily—very heavily—for butterfly dancing and waltzing.” Kennedy and the other athletes represented budding roses. Paul Anderson directed the play, and Richard R. Flood, Class of 1939, managed it. The fifth photograph features Kennedy and five other young men in more traditional three-piece and double-breasted suits and ties.

The archive also includes a “House Guest Card,” from April 6-13, 1937, for Richard Flood, “Introduced by Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.” The guest card gained Flood admission to the Bath and Tennis Club in Palm Beach, Florida. The Kennedy family had a vacation home in Palm Beach, Florida, from the 1933 to 1995, and also a membership at the Bath and Tennis Club, the town’s premier private club established in 1927. John F. Kennedy used the home as a winter White House during his presidency more than two decades later.

The three letters from the fall of 1941 from Joseph Kennedy Jr. to Richard Flood concern financial matters and the lease of an apartment in Cambridge that they had shared with “Clark” (possibly Howard Clarke) while they attended Harvard Law School. The first, postmarked September 10, reads, “How about that check. This $36 a month and these Southern women are making me insolvent” and is signed, “Best regards / Joe.” Apparently, Alice Harrington, from whom they leased the apartment, had not received payment for the last month’s rent, and Kennedy was increasingly annoyed with Clark, with whom he asked Flood to check on the matter. In the last letter, dated October 3, Kennedy wrote, “I have written to him three times, and he has never answered.” Kennedy wrote from the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, where he had gone for training as an aviator.

Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (1915-1944) was born in Massachusetts, the oldest of nine children born to Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. He graduated from the Choate School in Connecticut in 1933 and from Harvard College in 1938. While at Harvard, Kennedy participated in football, rugby, and crew and served on the student council. He then spent a year studying at the London School of Economics before enrolling in Harvard Law School. Both he and his father had aspirations that Joseph Jr. would become President of the United States, and he planned to run for Congress in 1946. Kennedy left before his final year at Harvard Law School to enlist in the U.S. Naval Reserve on June 24, 1941. He trained as an aviator and received his commission as an ensign in May 1942. In 1943-1944, he completed twenty-five combat missions from Great Britain. He then volunteered for an Operation Aphrodite mission in which two crew members took off in a bomber, activated a remote-control system, and parachuted from the aircraft. A ground crew then navigated the unmanned, explosive-laden bomber to crash into a target. In the Navy’s first Aphrodite mission, on August 12, 1944, Kennedy and his co-pilot took off in a B-24 bomber, set the controls, and armed the explosive package, which detonated prematurely over southeastern England, killing Kennedy and his co-pilot instantly. Kennedy received the Navy Cross posthumously.

Richard R. Flood (1914-1969) was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College in 1939 and from its law school in 1946 as of 1942. Flood served as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II. He received a master’s degree from the Harvard Business School cum laude in 1947. Admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1948, he established a practice in Lowell, Massachusetts, and was a partner in the firm of Flood, Valentine, and Foisy until his death.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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