The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Sunday, October 25, 2009

President Trips

Did JFK Take LSD?

John F. Kennedy is probably the most popular president to come out of Massachusetts, although politically one would probably have to say that John Adams and Calvin Coolidge were more influential. Perhaps we like Kennedy more because unlike Adams and Coolidge he was alive in the lifetime of most people now living. But was JFK so modern that he once took LSD? Sounds ridiculous, but the book I'm reading at the moment Timothy Leary - A Biography by Robert Greenfield, actually seriously discusses that possibility:

Tim Leary wrote that before he left Cambridge to return to Mexico by way of Los Angeles, a good-looking aristocratic woman from Washington, D.C., had come to his office. Her name was Mary Pinchot Meyer and she wanted Tim to teach her how to run an LSD session so she could turn on a close friend. Because he was a very important man as well as a public figure, her friend could not possibly make this connection for himself. With Tim, Michael Hollingshead, and a woman to whom Flo Ferguson had introduced Tim in New York, Meyer took part in a low dose LSD session. Meyer seemed to know a good deal about the CIA's use of mind-expanding drugs in a series of disastrous mind-control experiments that have since been well documented.

Tim Leary would write about three more meetings with Mary Pinchot Meyer over the next two years. In 1965, Tim discovered to his great horror that she had been murdered on October 12, 1964, as she walked along the canal towpath in Georgetown. Her body was identified by her brother-in-law, Ben Bradlee, executive editor of The Washington Post. Tim also learned for the first time that Meyer was married to CIA division chief Cord Meyer, Tim's nemesis at the American Veterans Committee during his graduate days at Berkeley. When it was revealed that Mary Pinchot Meyer had been one of John F. Kennedy's mistresses, Tim immediately suspected she had been killed for giving LSD to the president and then recording this information in her diary, which was never found.

Despite these intriguing facts, Greenfield says that the information is still too sketchy to say that JFK did indeed take LSD. Greenfield concludes:

While Tim did have contact with Mary Pinchot Meyer during this period and probably did supply her with psychedelics, which she may well have taken with someone in power in Washington, there is no evidence the man was John F. Kennedy.

So there is no direct evidence linking JFK to LSD use. However, if I were to guess which of the Kennedy brothers might have taken LSD I would choose Teddy. Despite the fact that Kennedy was hard on Leary when he testified before a congressional committee in the early '60's, the youngest Kennedy brother was not entirely averse to the LSD scene, as evidenced by the periods of correspondence he had with psychedelic pioneer Ken Kesey. Overall I find it easier to believe that the hard partying Ted Kennedy dropped acid than the more restrained JFK.

Meanwhile, a famous Pine Pointer and beloved crossing guard sent me this email recently about Leary's Springfield birthplace.

To make a short story long, they were discussing Timothy Leary's house on the Nostalgia Forum and much to my surprise, I found out it's at my crossing guard corner. I didn't believe that was his house, because the Ferris family had lived there for a century or two. Honestly, city records show it was built in 1854, but I believe it's older.

So, I accosted a neighbor and sure enough, Timothy Leary was born in that house. His mother had been Abigail Ferris. My neighbor knew his sister, who had been a teacher at Myrtle Street School. I've been staring at that house for 7 years and had no idea. Anyways, he most likely hung out at the Indian Orchard Library and went to either Myrtle St or Indian Orchard School. I'm not sure when IO was built, but I know it's very old. Next time I'm at the main library, I'll check the city directories.

So there's your less-than-six-degrees of separation. You know me - I know my neighbor - My neighbor knew Helen Leary - And, well, you know. Now, doesn't that just make your day? Anyways, here's a photo of Timothy Leary's house, maybe his ghost is still hanging around. - Marilyn

Shouldn't some attempt me made to preserve this house as a historic shrine?

In Hamp

More evidence that the Springfield mafia is moving into Northampton.

The Dunkin Donuts on King Street, one of the Valley's oldest, is undergoing renovations.

The old sign dumped by the side of the parking lot.

Earth flag in yesterday's rain.

Early This Morning

This morning I went into the wild hills of Haydenville to pick apples.

It's actually past harvest time, but there were still plenty to be picked.

A nice relaxing way to start the day.

We gave away the apples we picked to the Northampton Survival Center, where they will be made into apple pies, although perhaps some would prefer that they be made into hard cider instead!

Today's Video

I like this psychedelic poster that's plastered all over downtown Hamp.

Hurtling from the future into the past, here's some classic footage of Northampton drummer Brian T. Marchese and his teenage punk band back in 1991.