Jackie Kennedy and the Summer of 1961

With a plain red kerchief tied under her neck and a simple sleeveless sundress, she was whisked to the harbor from the yacht which was parked out in the harbor on a speedboat.

She was warmly greeted on the dock by the mayor and dozens of local dignitaries– and a beautiful, large and unusually calm pelican—the icon of the island. The animal immediately captured her curiosity.

“Is he wild?” she curiously asked the Mayor of Mykonos upon her arrival.

“Is he wild?” she asked the mayor. He was, in fact, Mykonos’s most famous resident. His name was Petros. Although politely accepting the mayor’s gift for her daughter of a native costume, and attentive as he explained how the skirt, blouse, scarf and shoes were hand-made and embroidered by local artisans, Jackie remained intrigued by Petros as the bird listened to the story as well.

 She knelt to gently pet his head, neck and back, asking more about him. Although taken on as the island’s official mascot only seven years earlier, Petros the Pelican was already legendary.

In the aftermath of a violent storm, which churned the Aegean Sea, a fisherman had spotted him lying injured on the island’s Paranga beach and brought him to town where a veterinarian nursed him back to health. 

The bird was diverted from his natural migration pattern by the storm and Mykonos became his permanent home.

*An interesting future note, twenty five years after this trip to Greece in 1986, a drunk driver hit and killed Petros the Pelican. 

At the time, a publishing editor in New York City, Jackie learned of Petros’ death and immediately began an effort to locate, purchase and donate another pelican for Mykonos, this one named Irini.

Jackie waved away the offer of a car and instead walked with her entourage up the steep incline to the grand island villa of the nation’s only woman newspaper publisher, Helen Vlachos.

Along the way, she poked into shops, chatting with merchants and bought a hand-carved wooden boat for her son for 700 drachmas, or about $25. During her lunch with Vlachos, seated amid flowering fruit trees, Jackie remarked that, “this is the greatest trip in the world. I couldn’t be happier.”

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.

Site Footer