JFK Calls Him A Silly Bastard – Day 7 FFF 2014

Filmmaker Adam, Wife Velma & Mrs. LanceAround with the Silly Bastard

Filmmaker Scott, Wife Velma & Mrs. LanceAround with the “Silly Bastard”

Does the man in the center look like a Silly Bastard to you?

How would you feel if the president of the United States–your Commander-in-Chief–publicly referred to you as a “Silly Bastard”?

Fifty years ago, JFK and Jackie were expecting a baby. In Washington, this is no problem as there are plenty of medical facilities to care for them. In Hyannis, MA, however, the closest medical facility for a president is located at Otis Air Force Base.

On July 24, 1963, the Washington Post reported that the Air Force spent over $5000 to refurbish a room to be used as Jackie’s maternity suite, just in case. The story goes on to claim that all the furniture was purchased at the upscale store Jordan Marsh. Turns out, the story was not true. But you would never know it from the phone call JFK placed to an Air Force General at the Pentagon. (Ironically, this general used to date Jackie, but this is not revealed in the movie.)

It Was 50 Years Ago...

It Was 50 Years Ago…

While looking at a Washington Post photo of Ernest Carlton standing next to a bed at Otis Air Force Base, JFK goes into a salty rant, referring to him as a “Silly Bastard” and saying the whole incident was a “f*** up” that will hurt the Air Force in their budget negotiations with Congress. He ends by suggesting they might want to transfer the “Silly Bastard” to Alaska as JFK “wouldn’t have him running a cathouse.”

The Silly Bastard Next to the Bed is a hilarious seven minute short documentary that reveals Ernest Carlton’s reaction when he first learns that JFK called him a Silly Bastard–50 years after it happened! LanceAround ranks this short film as the best movie he saw at the 2014 FFF.

The amusement continues as LanceAround and Mrs. LanceAround get an exclusive interview with the “Silly Bastard”, his wife, Velma and Scott Calonico, the director who created the short film that made him even more famous than he was when his photo ran in the Washington Post fifty years ago.

It began with the most unusual question with which LanceAround has ever opened an interview…

LA: What does it feel like to be publicly called a “Silly Bastard” by the most iconic President of our generation?

EC: Well, we have a difference of opinion. I thought it was funny at this point in time. At the time, if they had sent me to Alaska, I probably wouldn’t have thought it was that funny. But she [gestures towards his wife] was irate…

VC: I’m still irate, every time I hear it.

LA: When you say “she” you’re referring to…

EC: My wife, Velma.

LA: …and Velma you…

VC: Yes, it really irritates me because I KNOW that he was at no fault through any of it. I just thought it was ironic that the President of the United States would think that a lonely Captain in the Air Force would have that kind of power. He was TOLD to take the press there. He was TOLD to do this, that and the other. It was amazing to me that he [the President] would not have known that. Or that one of the Generals might not have said something. But it’s an age old story; you find the lowest guy to blame for whatever happens.

LA: It’s a fabulous story. [To Ernest] And does Velma have all her facts correct?

EC: Oh, she has all her facts correct.

LA: Were you aware of this story at the time? In the short film, it was presented that you had never seen the photograph; you had never read the story. And I’m wondering what your knowledge of the story was at the time it was happening? So when did you find out about it?

VC: When Scott was interviewing Ernie.

LA: Last year?

EC: Yea.

LA: So it was just last year?

VC: Yea.

LA: So you missed 50 years of being irate at JFK?

VC: Exactly, it took all this time for me to be irritated with a man that’s been dead for how long now?

LA: I think this year is the 50th anniversary.

VC: I thought he was a very interesting person and I thought she was lovely and they made a marvelous family. It was tragic what happened…

EC: …You know, when you get down to my job at that time, I was a “go get it,” “flunky” type of a person. I handled things like, when the President came in and they wanted to have a touch football game, I had to find people at the base there that could play touch football and had security clearances to send out to Hyannisport to take care of it. We’d get a call from the Science Advisor to the President who was staying in one of the cottages we had at Otis Air Force Base for some of the people that traveled with the President, they’d call me at two o’clock in the morning wanting to know where the toilet paper is. He must have known a lot about science, but he couldn’t reach for the toilet and open up the door beneath the commode see that we have extra toilet paper there. So to think that somebody that’s got the flunky job is going up Jordan Marsh spending $5000 dollars to put in…and you saw the pictures of the rooms…that was Air Force issue. There was nothing elaborate about it.

LA: So what do you know about where the Jordan Marsh story came from?

EC: Well, as I said in the film. The first thing I heard about anything is when I get a call from a General wanting to know what’s going on. I take down everything that he tells me that’s in the article. Now, this is the first article, because there’s two articles. I don’t think Scott [the director of the short] made it clear that there were two articles. The article that I was in next to the bed was the second one. The first one was when they called me and told me this guy called up at night, two o’clock in the morning, called the hospital. Didn’t call me, didn’t call Base Commander, he called the hospital. He got the MOD, the Medical Officer of the Day, the MOD is usually the lowest on the rank, he’s got the midnight to eight o’clock in the morning shift. He’s on call. He gets him and he says, well, there’s something going on here, but he doesn’t know what it was. They had a special room set aside for Jackie if she needed to come to the hospital. The rest of the article was made out of whole cloth. There’s nothing true about it. I took that to my boss and I said, here’s the article. These are the questions the General has. What do I tell him? And he gave me a list of things to tell him. Luckily I kept the list that he gave me. I called the General back–he was busy–I got his aide, which is a Colonel’s son, who told him and he said if anybody calls just take them in and show them what’s going on. We have nothing to be ashamed of. Everything was done on the up and up. You have to remember, this was in an election year. He’s on the stump trying to get re-elected. Anything that made him look bad–there was a lot of things we all knew about that could have really made him look bad if it had come out at that time–but, anyway…

LA: Was the President’s son born on that bed that you were photographed next to?

EC: No, not on the bed. They had a special operating room.

LA: Did Jackie actually sleep on that bed?

EC: Yea, that was actually her room.

VC: And, by the way, I had a baby in the hospital on the regular ward not many months before that and that was the same kind of furniture that we had on our ward.

Mrs. LA: Very plain and simple.

VC: It was!

EC: It was Air Force issue.

VC: And President Kennedy, to be honest about the whole thing, he was worried, I guess, as Ernie said, that it was going to look a certain way. And he just flew off the handle.

EC: If you go to the transcripts, and Scott gave me all the transcripts that he had dug up out of the library, you go to the transcripts and a few days later this whole thing was resolved. It came to light that everything was on the up and up and some of the things in the newspaper just went away.

LA: Do you remember how old you were back then?

EC: I was 32 years old.

LA: Now, if you had been present in the room when John Kennedy called you a “Bastard,” here’s your chance, what would you like to say back to John Kennedy 50 years later?

EC: Sir, you’re wrong. I had nothing to do with this. And I blame it on somebody else. [Aside] Isn’t that the political way to go?

LA: Velma, what would you like to say to John?

VC: Well, I’m not a real violent sort of person. I would probably have tried to understand why he was carrying on like he was. Probably would have said as a mother at that time, “Watch your language!”

Mrs. LA: Good for you!

EC: You know, we see the public image of people. We see what they want us to see. It was surprising to her. Now, she’s five years younger than me. So I’m 33 and she’s 28. We’d hear private things that go on in Cabinet meetings in Washington and she just couldn’t believe people would say the things they’d say and do the things they’d do.

VC: The one thing I remember saying afterwards, “These are the men who are running our country?” And I still feel the same way about the ones that are running it.

LA: What a great story. Thank you very much.



One Response to “JFK Calls Him A Silly Bastard – Day 7 FFF 2014”

  1. JFK’s Rant and Wrath | Humboldt Sentinel Says:

    […] And Ernest and Velma’s reaction 50 years later? Well,  you can read that here. […]

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