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Clint Hill's latest book started with a locked steamer trunk. He and his wife, co-author Lisa McCubbin Hill, were cleaning out their garage, moving boxes during the height of the pandemic, when they happened upon a long-forgotten black chest, emblazoned with the words: "Clinton Hill The White House Washington D.C."
Cracking it open and seeing the treasure trove of photos and documents it contained brought back memories of days Hill says he'd "long forgotten." Inside, there were plenty of knickknacks with the presidential seal, but there were also handwritten notes from Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, and gifts from the Kennedys, as well as pictures from travels all over the world.
"Way back in the '50s, and '60s, and '70s, the press would give us photos that they had taken by the boatload, and we'd scavenger through and find the ones we were interested in, we'd keep those. I'd bring them home and just throw them in a box. I had boxes full," he tells me over Zoom. "So it wasn't unusual to see this amount of material within that trunk, but some of it was historically significant."
Clint Hill is all too familiar with moments of historical significance. He served as Jackie Kennedy's secret service agent from 1960-1964 and was in the presidential limousine in Dallas that fateful day in Dallas when JFK was shot.
In the last decade, he's started sharing memories of his time with the first family: Five Days in November chronicles the Kennedy assassination and the President's funeral; Five Presidents reveals the full scope of his Secret Service career working under five administrations; and his first book, Mrs. Kennedy and Me recounts his close relationship with the first lady.
As its name suggests, My Travels with Mrs. Kennedy, out now, focuses on his trips alongside Jackie—both government visits to Paris and Pakistan and Latin American as well as personal vacations to Cape Cod and Palm Beach, and Ravello, Italy. The time is right for a book like this, he says, one filled with never-before-told stories and rare images of Jackie and the Kennedy entourage, many of them found inside that trunk. "We could all use a little Camelot right now," Hill said. Plus, as 90-year-old Hill tells me over Zoom with a laugh, "I'm not getting any younger."
One chapter in particular, titled "Mrs. Kennedy & The Queen" took on new significance following the death of Queen Elizabeth, just a few weeks before the book debuted. It describes Jackie's time in London in 1962, when the Queen invited the first lady for lunch at Buckingham Palace.
"They had a good relationship. I know that the press has sometimes written it otherwise, but that's not really true. The relationship was much more friendly, warm, than it was cold," Hill says, referring to the oft-repeated narrative that the two women didn't get along.
In reality—despite what an episode of The Crown might suggest—Hill says they were two young mothers navigating life in the harsh spotlight, who found common ground talking about their kids, and their passion for all things equestrian. "They had small children and they had horses. Two things that they could discuss forever," Hill recalls. As far as the lunch went, Jackie told Hill it was "delightful."
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