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Jacqueline Kennedy recordings are candid, unscripted

September 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
In a series of recordings made shortly after being widowed, Jacqueline Kennedy revealed her most memorable experiences in the White House.

It's the first time the public is hearing from the former first lady in a very unscripted and candid manner.

Jacqueline Kennedy's oral history was captured in a series of recordings never before heard until an exclusive by ABC anchor Diane Sawyer.

The year is 1964. A recently widowed first lady describes her years in the White House. She described those years as some of the happiest she and John F. Kennedy shared.

In one recording, Jacqueline Kennedy recalled begging her husband to let her stay with him during the Cuban missile crisis.

"I said, even if there's not room in the bomb shelter in the White House... I said, please, then I just want to be on the lawn when it happens. You know, but I just want to be with you, and I want to die with you, and the children do too, than live without you," Jacqueline Kennedy says in the recordings.

She also revealed that her husband did not support a Lyndon B. Johnson presidency.

"It's funny, because she was really fond of Lyndon Johnson. She found him really amusing and warm-hearted," said her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, who compiled the unedited recordings in a new book, "Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy."

"I can hear her voice in my mind: 'I can't believe I said that,' or, 'I wish I had added something,' or 'I changed my mind later,'" said Caroline Kennedy.

"I think it's really important to realize the value, as well as the limitations of an oral history. And once you start making changes, it's, what do you do? It's not my oral history," she added.

The recordings also have lighter moments that show what life was like in the White House with young children.

"I always thought it was so funny for people who used his bathroom that men could use after dinner, because all along his tub, there were all these floating animals, ducks and pink pigs and things," Jacqueline Kennedy says in the recordings.

Caroline Kennedy also pointed out that her mother's name is pronounced differently than what most people have been pronouncing it all along.

You can hear more about the recordings during a two-hour 20/20 special with Diane Sawyer. "Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words" airs on ABC7 Tuesday at 9 p.m. PT.

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