Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath

Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath

Mimi Alford

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0812981340

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In the summer of 1962, nineteen-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived in Washington, D.C., to begin an internship in the White House press office. After just three days on the job, the privileged but sheltered young woman was presented to the President himself. Almost immediately, the two began an affair that would continue for the next eighteen months. Emotionally unprepared to counter the President’s charisma and power, Mimi was also ill-equipped to handle the feelings of isolation that would follow as she fell into the double life of a college student who was also the secret lover of the most powerful man in the world. After the President’s assassination in Dallas, she grieved alone, locked her secret away, and tried to start a new life, only to be blindsided by her past.
Now, no longer defined by silence or shame, Mimi Alford finally unburdens herself with this unflinchingly honest account of her life and her extremely private moments with a very public man. This paperback edition includes a special Q&A, in which the author reflects on the intense media attention surrounding the book’s initial release. Once Upon a Secret is a moving story of a woman emerging from the shadows to reclaim the truth.
“With the benefit of hindsight and good old-fashioned maturity, [Mimi Alford] writes not just about the secret, but the corrosive effect of keeping that secret. . . . You can’t help liking her, or her elegant and thoroughly good-natured book.”—The Spectator

“What [Alford] sacrificed in lucre she has more than recovered in credibility and dignity.”—The Washington Times
“Compelling . . . a polished voice telling a credible story you can take to the bank.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Explosive . . . searingly candid.”—New York Post

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often barred from repeating the word sex in her television appearances. I never read the book, anyway. Nor did I read the racy novels of the time, such as Grace Metalious’s Peyton Place or Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything. These were popular novels back then precisely because they dealt with sex. But among my crowd, boy crazy as some of us were, the topic of sex was taboo. There was something of a cult back then about maintaining our virginity as long as possible, hopefully until our wedding

I tried to sit down and take a deep breath and run through my options in my mind, my screen went blank. I didn’t have the tools to face my situation rationally—and with no one else to talk to about it, I slipped into a state of high anxiety. In the end, it was a false alarm. I never contacted the doctor in Newark. My period arrived a few days later, and I let the matter drop. Neither Dave nor the President ever brought it up again. I hasten to add that for the vast majority of my time with

for the wedding. On Friday, we drove into Manhattan to pick up some dresses. We planned to continue on to his parents’ house in Southport, Connecticut, to spend the night and finalize the Fahnestock invitations. On our way out of Manhattan, bound for Connecticut, we stopped for gas on York Avenue and Sixty-first Street, just off the entrance to the FDR Drive. When I returned from the ladies’ room, Tony was in the driver’s seat, his head inclined at an odd angle toward the car radio, as if he

wanting. I attributed this to his justifiable anger but thought—hoped—that it would fade with time and the joy of our wedding and honeymoon. Tony and I were married on January 4, 1964, at Christ Episcopal Church in Middletown, New Jersey. Our wedding photos show a happy, carefree young couple, smiling, dancing, feeding each other the traditional piece of cake. I had seven attendants, including my sister Buffy as maid of honor and Marnie Stuart, Kirk Dyett, and Wendy Taylor among my bridesmaids.

street life. One of Tony’s colleagues suggested Brooklyn Heights, a neighborhood on the other side of the East River, directly across from Wall Street. The only thing I knew about the borough of Brooklyn was that my father had been born there. To our amazement it took us only one weekend, armed with the local paper, to find an exquisite floor-through garden apartment on tree-lined Hicks Street. Tony was delighted with his one-stop subway ride to his office, and I fell in love with the community.

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