Freshmen and Sophomores Meet a Kennedy

Cassandra Ratzlaff, Staff Writer

Was Ethel Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s widow, a horse thief? Yes, she was! But it’s not as exciting as it seems. There was actually a sticky lawsuit against her involving the horse’s owners. She became involved in this plan when she came across two starving horses while walking with two of her children near her property. She couldn’t leave them there, so she took them! Horse-theft was a hanging offense at that time in Virginia, but fortunately, she was the wife of a very significant man who got her out of any trouble.
On Monday, April 16, the freshman and sophomore classes were invited by the Sarasota Film Festival to watch the documentary film, Ethel, a story about the wife of the late Robert F. Kennedy. In the film, Rory Kennedy, the youngest of Ethel’s eleven children, interviewed Ethel and eight of her siblings. Their stories, like the one above, were documented for all to see. As part of the festival, Rory Kennedy came to the area to answer questions about her film and gauge audience response. At the end of the ODA presentation, students were treated to having her speak about her film and her role in the Kennedy family. Although she was born six months after her father was assassinated, hearing her mother’s story about their life together made her feel closer to her family, who were grateful to have experienced his affectionate disposition.
Ethel was born into a Republican family as Ethel Skakel. The Skakels were not known for their involvement politically and mainly focused on outdoor activities. The Kennedys, profoundly Democratic, were also big on sports and exercise. The two met during a ski trip to Mont Tremblant Resort in Quebec, Canada, after Ethel and Bobby’s sister, Jean, became friends and roommates. At the time, Bobby was dating Ethel’s sister, Patricia, but when this ended Ethel and Bobby began seeing each other.
As the wife of the Attorney General for the United States and the sister-in-law of President John F. Kennedy, Ethel became a very important figure politically. To learn more about Ethel and the famous Kennedy family, Rory Kennedy’s documentary will be on HBO in October. Many noted that it isn’t your usual, boring documentary. It was surprisingly moving and amusing. Ethel Kennedy is a one-of-a-kind woman.

This year’s festival was featured April 13-22. The festival resumes each spring. Hopefully underclassmen can look forward to this treat again!