Dartmouth beats Harvard, and soon afterward, people fill a Cambridge sidewalk touched by picket fences, autumn leaves and a Norman Rockwell charm. They walk toward the rambling frame house of economist John Kenneth Galbraith, former John Kennedy adviser and current host of what turns out to be The party of the emotional JFK Library weekend.
Actress Angie Dickinson, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass), Jimmy Carter pollster Pat Caddell, former JFK press secretary Pierre Salinger, former California Gov. Pat Brown and others amble up Galbraith's brick walkway to the entrance foyer. Inside, they're greeted by Oriental throw rugs and a small sign that says "Nixon in '80 -- Why Not the Worst?"
Past the sign are rooms full of old books and old Kennedyites, all rehashing the weekend that saw the dedication of the JFK Memorial Library on the city's harbor. Everyone hugs past friends. Robert Manning, now editor of The Atlantic Monthly but once an assistant secretary in JFK's State Department, talks to a long-ago cohort. a
"I hadn't seen Pierre Salinger in three or four years," he says.
Galbraith reigns delightedly over the 100-plus guests. "An alumni reunion," he calls it.
Somebody else called it the ultimate Camelot reunion. Parties went on everywhere. Big sprawling parties, like the box lunch for 7,000 on the library parking lot, or intimate parties like the brunch for the Kennedy family in the library's upstairs drawingroom.
Some parties were little more than lunch dates. At the Ritz-Carlton, Lady Bird Johnson dined with former aides Liz Carpenter and Sharon Frances; Jacqueline Onassis breezed in to chat, though not eat, with Robert McNamara, Arthur Schlesinger, George Stevens and their wives.
Some parties had the distinct ring of caucus, like the one of past and present Ted Kennedy staffers in the penthouse of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Some, like the Galbraith party, turned into forums that rated and debated speeches given by Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy and young Joe Kennedy at the dedication ceremonies.
Friday night's dinner at the library had been a media event when poses were struck, roles played. But after the next morning, filled with the tears and memories of resurrected grief, the celebrated joined the ordinary and turned to parties for release.
"The thing is, it's really embarrassing," said Sally Weylman, the high school senior who won the JFK essay c ontest and found herself surrounded by Kennedys she didn't recognize. "See, I don't know who they all are. I'm not used to being with people like that."
Weylman, who from a distance might have passed for a Kennedy herself, shared the dedication platform with them and then was invited to the intimate gathering in the library's "Family Room."
There, Kennedys and close friends had a buffet brunch overlooking Dorchester Bay. Bouquets of flowers set off the Chippendale chairs and a Jamie Wyeth painting of JFK on his boat "Victora"; a 40-foot mural of the island of St. Croix, which once decorated the White House swimming pool, spanned a wall in the small reception area.
The brunch was quiet. "Marvelous," termed Vicki Lawford, a Mt. Vernon College student who carried a flower with her afterward.
"Wonderful," said Maria Shriver, who had only a Diet Pepsi.
Downstairs the mood was decidedly less intimate. The crowd, which at the dedication had included House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr., jammed exhibit halls, lined up to see the film JFK's life, and hailed old colleagues from their Camelot pasts.
"My God, you look good," thundered Lemoyne Billings to a familiar face in the crowd. Billings was JFK's roommate at Choate.
Kennedy cousin Mary Lou McCarthy, with daughter Kathleen, came from Chicago. They were staying with Rose Kennedy, whom doctors had not thought strong enough to attend the festivities.
"We have to hit all the exhibits slowly," McCarthy said. "Aunt Rose is going to quiz us on them."
Those exhibits included one on Robert F. Kennedy, whose voice, from a segment filmed among migrant farm workers, could be heard saying: "I think people should be angry enough to speak out."
It reminded many of his son Joe's feisty speech, a speech that took big corporations, including agribusiness, t o task.
"At first I thought it was the other Kennedy running for president," said a Kennedy relative, not wanting to be identified. "I got a little confused." a
"Tasteless," pronounced Kennedy court jester Dick Tuck, busily circulating samples of "The Great Wallposter" calendar, his newest election-year poster, sponsored by National Lampoon.
"I thought, 'Would his father have done that?' and I concluded that he would," said Rep. Robert F. Drinan (D-Mass.)
"Joe's my nominee for president in the year 2000," said former HEW Secretary Wilbur Cohen.
"Loved it," said Salinger, making his way through the mob. "We were listening to the politics of the '80s."
Ethel Kennedy took the large overview mothers are allowed: "I knew he would be a hit, but I didn't know how."
Former JFK aides paused before mementoes, perused captions and swapped old tales.
"His ability to inspire came back to me today," said Stewart Udall, former secretary of the Interior.
"He was a naturally eloquent man who recognized the beauty and importance of words," said Ted Sorensen, who helped draft many of JFK's speeches.
Lady Bird Johnson said she wouldn't have been anywhere else in the world than at the dedication. She lent a presence some saw as mellowing in what could have been a tense political day.
Names like Willard Wirtz, Orville Freeman, Dean Rusk, Larry O'Brian, and McGeorge Bundy formed on lips. W. Averell Harriman and John Sherman Cooper lent a note of formality with their black Homburg hats.
Munching turkey sandwiches, people found themselves turning poetic over the combination of soaring architectural spaces and what library curator Dave Powers called Kennedy weather": a melancholy morning fog that changed to southerly breezes and bright sunshine.
Ethel Kennedy hered recognizable and unrecognizable Kennedy children toward a waiting limousine and a visit to see hospitalized David Kennedy. Looking at the water, she noted: "Did you know that for 150 years they've been calling that stretch 'the President's Road?' Isn't that terrific?"
By 5:30 p.m. Saturday, the Galbraith party is well underway, Sorensen, Boston Globe editor Thomas Winship, Carter adviser Hedley Donovan, JFK economic adviser Walter Heller and Boston Mayor Kevin White are among the guests. The backyard garden is a popular milling place.
The talk ranges from assessment of Joe Kennedy's speech to gossip of Caroline. At one point, she is described as the most intelligent of the children; at another, overweight and badly dressed. Joe, to Galbraith at least, emerges as a much-needed kick in the pants.
"His speech," says Galbraith, "broke the banality, the somber blandness which is a most dangerous feature of such an occasion."
Others use Joe's speech as joke material for Frank Ikard, a guest and former head of the American Petroleum Institute. Ikard, somebody teases, was REALLY the one who wrote Joe's speech.
But Carter, in his dedication speech, emerges a clear victor here. "he just did a superb job of lightening the occasion," says Galbraith. And they were still talking about Jackie Onassis' grimace when Carter kissed her.
At the same time but across Harvard's campus, the penthouse in the JFK School of Government filled with old, new and no doubt future campaign staffers of Ted. The windows were floor-to-ceiling glass and the view of golden leaves and rooftops.
Carl Wagner, present aide who's expected to help spearhead his campaign for the White House, was the ranking representative from the future staff group. He stood near a tray of carrots and cauliflower, gazed toward the Charles River, and talked about what he termed the casualness and informality of dedication day.
"I mean, I looked over and there was (World Bank President) Bob McNamara eating his box lunch all by himself," he said.
This party was thrown by Milton Gwirtzman, a former Kennedy aide who wore a white carnation in his lapel. One guest teased him about being "the father of the bride."
Now the feet, belonging to Galbraith, are up on a wicker stool. The rest of his body is relaxing, too, soothed by a plump Haitian-cotton chair.
Galbraith, flanked on one side by Indian art books and on the other by a sampler that reads "Galbraith's First Law: Modesty is a Much Overrated Virtue," winds down after the party with a few drinks and a few remaining faithfuls.
They assess and reassess the Kennedy weekend, talking about who was there -- and who wasn't. The "wasn'ts" include all living past presidents. "They should have invited Gerald Ford," says Galbraith, "but not Nixon."
Finally, the few make noises about leaving. Galbraith himself makes plans to see the inside of the Kennedy library. Sometime in mid-December, he figures, when all the noise has died down.