“When you’re President of the United States, you don’t make many new friends, and I’m not giving up the old.”
This week, we’re sharing stories of #LGBTQ history in our holdings. On Saturday, join us online for our second National Conversation, held in Chicago, on LGBTQ human and civil rights: http://bit.ly/1UB5sCs
John F. Kennedy met Kirk LeMoyne “Lem” Billings at Choate prep school in 1933. They started the ‘Muckers Club’ to organize Choate’s pranksters, and were almost expelled when the headmaster heard about the Muckers’ plans to treat the school gym to a pile of horse manure. JFK also learned that Lem was gay shortly after they met.
In 1937, JFK and Lem travelled to Europe together. Possibly most adorable part of their European adventure was their adoption of Dunker, a dachshund puppy they met near Nuremburg.
In the 1940s, JFK enlisted in the Navy and Lem joined the Naval Reserve; they kept up their friendship through letters.
The two stayed friends throughout JFK’s rise to the Presidency, a risky decision. In the 1960s, gay Americans faced institutionalized discrimination, especially in government and politics, and this could spell the end of civil service for gay individuals and people associated with them.
As his political career progressed, JFK continued to rely on Lem’s help and friendship. As JFK put it: “When you’re President of the United States, you don’t make many new friends, and I’m not giving up the old.”
On Best Friends Day, we hope you’ll have as much fun
as JFK and his best friend, Kirk LeMoyne “Lem” Billings!
Lem and JFK met at Choate prep school in 1933. In
his book Jack and Lem, journalist David
Pitts explains that they bonded through their shared intellectual curiosity and
sense of fun – and a mutual love of practical jokes. They started the ‘Muckers
Club’ to organize Choate’s pranksters, and were almost expelled when the
headmaster heard about the Muckers’ plans to treat the school gym to a pile of
FY-31. Members of the Muckers Club at Choate, c.
1934. Left to right: Ralph Horton, Lem Billings, Butch Schriber, and John F.
In summer 1937, on break from college and interested
in the growing political unrest in Italy, Germany, and Spain, JFK and Lem
decided to travel to Europe together. They toured Paris, fed pigeons in Venice,
and talked to locals about the political tension in Germany.
But the most adorable part of their European
adventure was their adoption of Dunker, a dachshund puppy they met near
Nuremburg. Dunker traveled with them until JFK’s allergies forced them to find a
new home for the puppy in the Netherlands.
JFK, Dunker, and Lem, The Hague, 1937.
In the 1940s, as the US turned its attention on
World War II, JFK enlisted in the Navy and Lem joined the Naval Reserve; unable
to see each other often, they kept up their friendship through letters.
Lem jokes to JFK: “Why don’t you write me one of those funny letters you’re
always talking about. I’d like to get one – I never have as yet.” See more from
PC150. JFK and Lem on leave from the war, Palm
two stayed friends throughout JFK’s rise to the Presidency, which, according to
David Pitts, carried some risk. In the 1960s, gay Americans faced institutionalized
discrimination, especially in government and politics, and this
discrimination could spell the end of civil service for gay individuals and
people associated with them. Pitts wrote that JFK “learned Lem was gay not long
after they met,” and journalist Ben Bradlee told Pitts: “I suppose it’s known
that Lem was gay. It impressed me that Jack had gay friends.”
President John F. Kennedy with Lem Billings in
the office of the
President’s Secretary, Evelyn Lincoln
, April 2 1962.
As his political career progressed, JFK continued to
rely on Lem’s help and friendship, eventually inviting him to drop by the White
House so often that he had his own room there. As JFK
put it: “When you’re President of the United States, you don’t make many
new friends, and I’m not giving up the old.”
JFK Jr., Jacqueline Kennedy, JFK, and Lem Billings ride on a golf cart in
We hope everyone has a Happy Best Friends Day, and a
friend like Lem to share it with!
For more of Andrew Choate’s photos, follow @saintbollard on Instagram.
Bollards are stumpy concrete posts meant to prevent cars from driving into buildings or walkways. They are not typically described as cute or clever, funny or sneaky — or really as anything at all. But when Andrew Choate (@saintbollard) moved from South Carolina to Southern California, bollards became his muse. “I was attracted to their variety, and how neatly they lent themselves to formal composition,” says Andrew, who teaches creative writing at juvenile detention centers and uses his ripe imagination to articulate the purpose of his project. “Looking at the bollards as a kind of aesthetic and comic relief provides a way to see without hiding, a way to look that appreciates reality for what it is.”
A pair of before and after photos from the infamous Carlisle Indian boarding school. This group shot shows the children of Apache leaders who were imprisoned in Florida after surrendering to General Miles in 1886. These didactic photos were meant to show the “positive” outcomes of the US policies of Indian removal and forced assimilation.
Biographical notes on some of these children can be found in the book “From Fort Marion to Fort Sill: A Documentary History of the Chiricahua Apache Prisoners of War, 1886-1913”. A not insignificant number of the Apache children taken to Carlisle at this time–about 100 from Fort Marion–died of TB and other diseases; a few children in this photo never returned home and were buried at Carlisle. Hugh Chee, on the other hand, was among those pictured here who lived a long life.
“Chiricahua Apaches as they arrived at Carlisle from Fort Marion, Florida, November 4th., 1886”, Carlisle Indian School, Pennsylvania Photographer: J.H. Choate Date: 1886 Negative Number 002113
“Chiricahua Apaches Four Months After Arriving at Carlisle”, Carlisle Indian School, Pennsylvania Photographer: J.H. Choate Date: 1886 Negative Number 002112
Researchers have deciphered an ancient Egyptian handbook, revealing a series of invocations and spells.
Among other things, the “Handbook of Ritual Power,” as researchers call the book, tells readers how to cast love spells, exorcise evil spirits and treat “black jaundice,” a bacterial infection that is still around today and can be fatal.
The book is about 1,300 years old, and is written in Coptic, an Egyptian language. It is made of bound pages of parchment — a type of book that researchers call a codex.
“It is a complete 20-page parchment codex, containing the handbook of a ritual practitioner,” write Malcolm Choat and Iain Gardner, who are professors in Australia at Macquarie University and the University of Sydney, respectively, in their book, “A Coptic Handbook of Ritual Power”. Read more.
Details from John Singer Sargent’s incredible portraits of:
Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess d'Abernon (1904), Mrs. Cecil Wade (1886),Mrs. Joshua Montgomery Sears (Sarah Choate Sears) (1899), Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)(1883–84), andElizabeth Winthrop Chanler (Mrs. John Jay Chapman) (1893)