Servants reveal little about rape case, a lot about Kennedys' habits

June 26, 1991|By Joseph Schwerdt | Joseph Schwerdt,Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Prosecutors who were trying to find out what was cooking at the Kennedy mansion during the Easter weekend got little information about the alleged rape at the compound.

But they learned how to make eggs a la Lee.

Depositions from Kennedy compound cooks and servants released yesterday do not spill any revealing beans about the activities surrounding the March 30 case or the accused, William Kennedy Smith. But their testimony offers a glimpse of family life behind the compound walls, especially the Kennedys' eating and drinking habits.

"I'm going to get a cooking lesson here, too," prosecutor Moira Lasch said during the testimony of longtime Kennedy cook Nellie McGrail.

Among the tidbits:

Daiquiris are a mainstay at a Kennedy compound lunch. In fact, servant Jean Saba said, "it's a family tradition."

Patrick Kennedy, a Rhode Island legislator, is quite the eater at breakfast. One morning he stood at the kitchen door and told Ms. McGrail, "Nellie, my usual." His usual is three scrambled eggs, a half-pound of bacon and three English muffins.

A chicken is always left in the refrigerator for family members to munch on overnight.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., goes for a 15-minute swim every morning, Ms. McGrail said, after which he is especially fond of eggs a la Lee, poached eggs on ham and English muffins with mushroom sauce.

"It's supposed to be General Lee's favorite," Ms. McGrail said.

Patrick Kennedy and Mr. Smith were quite messy when they shared a room during the Easter weekend. Asked about the condition of their room, Ms. Saba said, "Well, they're young men."

"What does that mean?" Ms. Lasch asked.

"A mess," Ms. Saba said. "I mean their clothes would be thrown. Especially Patrick. He's always like that."

Family meals during the Easter holiday included stone crabs, shrimp, large salads and several bottles of wine. Meals often took two hours or more, the servants said.

Meals were always served on the patio or the courtyard, Ms. McGrail said.

"Never in the dining room," she said. "The senator doesn't like the house. He's never in it."

Ms. McGrail, 79, began cooking for Rose Kennedy more than 20 years ago and is still called upon to cook for the family in Palm Beach "because the kids like to see me there."

And she expressed her loyalty and that of others when asked whether another Kennedy cook had been questioned by police.

"A good servant wouldn't tell anyone what's happening in the house," she said. "They keep it to themselves. They wouldn't be kept in a house if they didn't."

Nevertheless, Ms. Lasch kept the questions coming for Ms. McGrail and other witnesses.

"Do you remember how the fish was prepared?" she asked.

"It was broiled and then baked," Ms. Saba responded.

"OK," Ms. Lasch said.

"With a white sauce," Ms. Saba added.

The testimony does not offer much about the personality or habits of Mr. Smith, who is accused of raping a Jupiter, Fla., woman near the compound's swimming pool March 30.

"All I can say is he's a lovely boy, a quiet boy," Ms. McGrail said. "And I never saw him once in trouble."

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