Monday, March 23, 2015

Another Lost Treasure- Aide to Jacqueline Kennedy - Provi Paredes Has Died at 90

Providencia Ferrera Paredes, who was best known as longstanding personal aide to First Jacqueline Kennedy, died on Wednesday, March 18 in Washington, DC, surrounded by family and friends. She had lived 90 remarkable years.
Providencia Paredes 

Born in the Dominican Republic, "Provi" as she was known, came to the U.S. in 1948 at the age of 23, and four years later she met and began working for then Congressman John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. When JFK was elected president in 1960, Provi became a U.S. citizen and accompanied the Kennedy family to the White House, to assist First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

When I was writing MRS. KENNEDY AND ME with Secret Service agent Clint Hill, he remembered Provi traveling with the First Lady on all of their trips around the word, assisting with packing, unpacking, ironing, making sure Mrs. Kennedy had everything she needed.  Provi had a "delightful, cheery disposition," he says, and from their first meeting they quickly became friends.

Jackie Kennedy&Clint Hill, Ravello, Italy 1962
I had the great fortune of getting to know Provi while working with Hill, and what a treat it was.  She was in her late 80's the first time I spoke with her by phone, and although she still had a heavy accent, I was so impressed by the clarity of her memories and the spunk in her voice.  When I finally met her in person, she embraced me as if I were a member of the family remarking, "any friend of Clint's is a friend of mine."  What a rare privilege it was to sit and listen to Clint Hill and Provi reminisce about their time together with President and Mrs. Kennedy in the White House--the trip to India and Pakistan, when Provi got so scared riding up the windy, mountainous road to the Khyber Pass that the car she was riding in had to turn around; the memorable trip to Ravello, Italy the summer of 1962; summers in Hyannis Port; winters in Palm Beach; the gut wrenching morning of November 23, 1963 when Clint Hill brought Mrs. Kennedy back to the White House with the body of President Kennedy in a casket--it was one of the rare trips Provi didn't take because it was the weekend of her son Gustavo's first communion. Oh the memories--and yes, secrets--this man and woman shared.

Lisa McCubbin, Provi Paredes, Clint Hill
And even though they allowed themselves to reminisce in my presence, there was an unspoken bond between them, that certain things, things both of them had experienced or witnessed, would never pass their lips. Discretion and loyalty were two things Clint Hill and Provi Paredes shared--admirable qualities that so few people today possess.

I'm saddened by the loss of Provi. Saddened for her son Gustavo who held his mother on a pedestal--adored her and protected her and cared for her until the very end. Saddened for yet one more link to Camelot, lost. But oh so very very grateful that I had the wonderful opportunity to know this lovely lady who had such a remarkable life.

Rest in peace, dear Provi. You lived your life well and with great spirit.  I know Mrs. Kennedy is grateful for everything you did for her, and I can vouch that you kept her trust until the very end.

Provi Paredes and Clint Hill exchange a knowing glance. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

LBJ, George Hamilton, Lynda Bird Johnson and the Secret Service

So, here's a quick tease from the book I'm currently writing with Clint Hill. Did you know that LBJ's daughter Lynda Bird Johnson dated actor George Hamilton? She was 21. He was 26 and a famous movie star at the time. Listen to how Hamilton describes the Secret service -- the original James Bonds. Love it!

George Hamilton Remembers Dating Lynda Bird... by FORAtv