John F Kennedy - JFK Camelot The Last Knight
president john f kennedy

Rae Anderson
Photographer
& Author

Jackie was obviously in shock from being in the Limo that day, but she bravely wanted to share her feelings, here are excerpts from here one and only interview, given just a week after that fateful day. "Jack was ... this lonely, little sick boy ... sick so much of the time, reading in bed, reading history ... reading the Knights of the Round Table...for Jack history was full of heroes... it made him see the heroes... But there's this one thing I wanted to say... I kept saying to Bobby, I've got to talk to somebody, I've got to see somebody, I want to say this one thing... all I keep thinking of is this line from a musical comedy, it's been an obsession with me... At night before we'd go to sleep... we had an old Victrola. Jack liked to play some records. His back hurt, the floor was so cold. I'd get out of bed at night and play it for him, when it was so cold... and the song he loved most came at the very end of this record, the last side of Camelot, sad Camelot... There'll never be another Camelot..." Jacqueline Kennedy


This page should be titled Discovering Camelot, we set out on a simple adventure and 12 years later we are prepared to share with you where that adventure has led us, and how it has brought us here building a tribute to a time we never understood or even realized existed. We bring to you the story of our modern Camelot in the exciting book JFK Camelot: The Last Knight.


JFK Camelot Cartier Watch front

JFK's Cartier

It all began one day when Cris and Nikki came over to our house for dinner. Chis took off his watch and handed it to me and said "try this on", it was an amazing antique Cartier. I held it in my hand and turned it over and read the inscription on the back, it said JFK 09 12 57. I had to ask, what is this? Cris replied, that is the watch JFK was wearing when he was shot. I looked again, it didn't seem reasonable that I would be holding that watch, but Chris was always serious and never a prankster. My next question lead to this entire adventure, "how is that possible?" I asked, thinking Chris must have been hoodwinked. We sat down in the living room and Chris told me the story of Evelyn Lincoln. After JFK died his personal secretary Evelyn Lincoln had helped clean up all of his personal items from the White House and had kept them all, instead of disposing of them. When she passed she willed it the collection to her friend Bob White, who in turn wanted to start a museum to display the collection. Bob could never find the necessary funding to get the museum started and occasionally would sell an item in order to keep going and keep his dream alive. Chris had become aware of the collection and being a JFK fanatic he had gone to see it and while there he had managed to convince Bob to sell him the Cartier. The watch was an Anniversary gift that Jackie had given to JFK for their 4th wedding anniversary, and it was also the watch JFK was wearing when he was shot.

As Chris talked I realized he was telling the truth, I handed him back the watch without ever putting it on. It didn't bother me that he wore it but, it wasn't something I could bring myself to even try on. I must have been 7 when JFK was killed and I can remember, being sent home from school (which was odd because I was in Canada) and a few days later taking the first photo of my life. I took a photo of the TV screen when JFK's coffin was shown. It was a traumatic time for everyone and I guess part of me never really got over it, I just couldn't bear to wear that watch.


JFK Camelot Cartier Watch back

Cartier inscription

Chris then proceeded to tell me all of JFK's personal possessions were in Bob's mother’s basement, in an old home in Baltimore. I recall Chris saying "someday they are going to have a flood or fire, and everything will be lost, someone should take photos of everything to preserve their memory before they are destroyed. I had just gotten a new 4X5 camera I was anxious to try out and always being up for an adventure, I said “we should go I'm willing". Chris shook his head, "Bob is very eccentric, he would never let us do that" he replied. "Do you have his number" I asked? Chris nodded, so I handed him my phone and said "give him a call and ask, all he can do is say no". Chris dialed the number and when Bob answered, he quickly agreed to let us come and take the photos. As soon as he hung up Chris said "we have to go immediately or Bob will change his mind and call us back and tell us not to come. Chris left to go home and pack a bag and figure out the schedule and I started to put my camera gear together, with all of the lights and everything it must have been over 100 pounds of gear.


Chris and I got back together and Chris says " Oh by the way, I am afraid to fly, we have to take the train. I hadn't anticipated that but an adventure is an adventure let’s do this. We were in Vancouver British Columbia at the time so we took a bus down to Seattle and then took the train from Seattle out to Washington D.C. It was a fantastic trip, just travelling across the North Western States by train through all of the old towns was really amazing. We got into Washington and rented a car, then drove past the White House. You always see it in photos or on TV but it was really impressive to see it for the first time in real life. We then continued up to Baltimore, where Bob lived just a little bit North of Washington. We got there I believe it was Monday evening and Chris called him and said "OK we are here to take the photos" and Bob said "Oh I was going to call you guys and tell you not to come, but seeing as you are here come on by in the morning and let’s take the photos.


"Early the next morning we went over and met Bob at his house for breakfast. Being prepared, I wanted both him and Chris to sign releases for the photos I was about to take. Normally I wouldn’t have bothered, a photographer always owns the copyright to any photos he takes, except of people where you need a release. However I felt if Bob was really as eccentric as Chris claimed, I should have documented proof that I was given permission to take the Photos, otherwise if he claimed he never gave permission it could be a gigantic waste of my time.

I got Chris to sign first, I wanted to take photos of the Cartier watch and if I was going to get Bob to sign, I felt Chris should sign as well. Bob had no problem signing the release, so I felt Bob wasn't as eccentric as Chris had painted him. Breakfast was now over and off we went to his mother’s house to start taking the photos.


We met his mother a lovely lady and then proceeded down into her basement, It was unbelievable. I suddenly realized why Chris thought Bob was so eccentric. The basement was packed, you could hardly move. I was looking for a place to put down my camera gear, I was about to put something on this glass case when I looked inside and saw this mummified body. Not used to having dead people in the basement I gasped "what's with the dead guy". Bob replied "oh that’s a gunfighter that was killed and the circus used to display him, I bought him after the Circus closed down. I also have the world's tallest woman, her case was too big to bring down here so she is under the deck if you want to see her". "No, no that’s alright" I managed to get out. Then I turned and looked some more and on the back wall was a row of shrunken heads, Bob had the largest collection of shrunken heads outside of a museum. As Chris said Bob was a little eccentric, but he was a really nice guy at the same time.


We got to work and started taking Photos, they were long days at least 16 hours a day. 4X5 film has to be loaded in the dark one shot at a time so Chris would load film while Bob would dig out the items we were shooting and I would take the pictures. We never took a break, we had pizza or Chinese food brought in and just kept working. We took over 300 photos. We documented JFK's most loved and cherished possession’s that he really loved and were near and dear to his heart.


Chris thought we should write a book together, so Bob and I agreed to this, but shortly after Bob decided to auction off his collection and soon after died of a heart attack, and Chris disappeared and I had no way to contact him. After a bit I decided the public should have access to these great photos and stories so I have been working hard to put it together as a memento for the 50th anniversary of JFK's passing. I hope you enjoy it!


JFK Camelot book ends

In the "Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union" January 30, 1961.John F. Kennedy said: "I have pledged myself and my colleagues in the cabinet to a continuous encouragement of initiative, responsibility and energy in serving the public interest. Let every public servant know, whether his post is high or low, that a man's rank and reputation in this Administration will be determined by the size of the job he does, and not by the size of his staff, his office or his budget. Let it be clear that this Administration recognizes the value of dissent and daring -- that we greet healthy controversy as the hallmark of healthy change. Let the public service be a proud and lively career. And let every man and woman who works in any area of our national government, in any branch, at any level, be able to say with pride and with honor in future years: 'I served the United States Government in that hour of our nation's need.'"