The letters were not to the former first lady’s husband no. 1, President John F. Kennedy, or husband no. 2, oil magnate Aristotle Onassis. They were written to her boyfriend R. Beverley Corbin Jr.
The teenage Onassis wrote the letters in the 1940s to then-Harvard student Corbin while at her finishing school, a place she described as a “prison,” the Christie’s auction lot described.
“If school days are the happiest of your life, I’m hanging myself with my skip-rope tonight,” one letter reads.
The letters passed by descent to the seller, who CNN said was Corbin’s son. Corbin died in 2004.
I’m pretty sure I would never, ever want anything I wrote — especially love letters at the age of 17 — to be revealed to the world at large, but Onassis comes across as strong-willed and amusing. Some choice excerpts:
“I'm never going to send my children to boarding school. The boys can go to P.S. 148 with gangsters, and then go to Columbia & the girls can go to Hunter College and they'll all be morons but at least they wont have to tear around and get their teeth knocked out playing hockey every day... Can you think of anything worse than living in a small town like this all your life and competing to see which housewife could bake the best cake?” (Onassis did not get her wish: Her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, graduated from Concord Academy. Son John F. Kennedy Jr. attended boarding school at Phillips Academy).
She tells Corbin in one letter to smuggle in cigarettes, chocolate “and a hip flask to shock Mrs. J.”
She also did not mince words:
”I've always thought of being in love as being willing to do anything for the other person — starve to buy them bread and not mind living in Siberia with them — and I've always thought that every minute away from them would be hell — so looking at it that [way] I guess I'm not in love with you.”
The last letter announced her (short-lived) engagement to John Husted:
“What I hope for you is for the same thing to happen as quickly and as surely as it did with me. It will when you least expect it.”