That special summer of Jackie and her sister

June 06, 1994|By Franklin Mason

When I heard about Jackie, I knew she was in my house, if I could only find her.

As everything is in my house, the books are stacked high. One day they'll crash and bury me. But not yet. I dig a little, and there is Jackie. And her sister, too, the two of them together in their book "One Special Summer." They were the Bouvier sisters then, way before the Kennedy days, Jackie 22 and Lee 18.

It was their first time together in Europe. Jackie and Lee put together their book, a single copy, for their mother and stepfather as a way of thanking them for the summer.

It was years later their mother happened on the copy, and it be came a published book, just as they'd written and illustrated it. So it is that I have that special summer now, and it's fine to be with Jackie and Lee and see Europe.

The sisters were in Paris and Venice and Florence and so much more. Lee did much of the writing and Jackie the illustrating. But I liked Jackie's writing best:

" 'Gee -- Do you realize you're in Pamplona!' bellowed Ace Williams, banging the table with his fist so that the glasses jumped, and squirting a bota of red wine into his mouth and down his shirt front. I certainly didn't realize it. For three mornings now he had woken us up at 5:30 to run before the bulls -- Lee and I staggering blindly -- hoping only to be gored and put out of our misery, while he thundered along behind quoting 'Death in the Afternoon.' You couldn't even blow your nose with out being told that Brett had blown hers on p. 64 of 'The Sun Also Rises'."

I sympathized with Jackie there, for I once had run the Pamplona bull path a little way, though I quickly retired. Perhaps it is slender thread that Jackie and I were both on the path, not together, of course, though it connects us.

And the books do, too. Jackie was great for books, as all who knew her in late years testify. She worked hard at them and probably had them all over the place, even as I do.

So it is good the sisters had their special summer, one of joy and laughter. And good I have the book. It is the way of books: They stay around even after their writers depart.

Franklin Mason is a Baltimore writer.

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