Remarkable archive of notes, outline, and unfinished draft for The Human Touch, an unpublished memoir by John G. W. Mahanna, a Western Massachusetts journalist who recounts his nearly two-decade association and friendship with John F. Kennedy. The archive includes 21 pages of handwritten manuscript notes, a 101-page hand-corrected photocopied typescript outline, and a 43-page photocopied typescript that includes drafts of the first several chapters of the memoir. The larger typescript outline bears numerous handwritten corrections while the draft chapters include both handwritten and paste-up edits.
The opening pages of the outline describe Mahanna’s first encounter with Kennedy, which reads, in part: “When I first met Jack Kennedy in 1945 at the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, he was a special writer for the New York Journal American and other Hearst newspapers, representing International News Service…Our meeting came quite by accident…While walking through the streets of the city, I decided to check my baggage at the nearest hotel, and found myself at the Palace Hotel where newspapermen and radio news commentators were in full swing…The desk clerk was not very encouraging. He explained there might be a cancellation later at night, suggesting that I check periodically with him.
In the meantime I wandered about the lobby, hoping to see a familiar face. While sitting on a couch in the lobby, a young fellow, dressed in a tweed jacket, khaki trousers, brown loafers and carrying a cane came up to me and said: ‘You look pretty depressed, pal, anything I can do for you?’ He introduced himself as Jack Kennedy…when he learned I was from Massachusetts, he placed his hand on my shoulder and told me to wait there a few minutes and he would be right back. In less than five minutes he returned with the manager of the Palace Hotel, explaining to him that if he could not find a room for me, to put a cot in his room and make me comfortable until a room could be found.
With that the manager left and Jack sat down to talk some more. As we discussed our families, a broad smile came across his face when he learned my mother’s maiden name was Fitzgerald and that I had married a Kennedy, Evona, whose father was an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist in the Berkshires. ‘How can you miss, John, being the son of a Fitzgerald and married to a Kennedy?’ he asked smilingly.”
An excerpt found among the manuscript notes displays Kennedy’s admiration for the Democratic ideal, the office of the presidency, and then towards his own fondness for stirring oration: “He liked to quote Lincoln: ‘There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost everything, especially of government policy, is an inseparable compound of the two, so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded.’” In overall fine condition. Accompanied by a copy of Mahanna’s The Seated Lincoln, a booklet dedicated to the Lincoln statue on the National Mall.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.