November 4, 1963 — President Kennedy records a personal memo about the death of South Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem, only to be interrupted by his son, John Jr.


JFK: Do you want to say anything? Say hello. 

John Jr.: Hello. 

JFK: Say it again. 

John Jr.: Naughty, naughty daddy. 

JFK: Why do the leaves fall? 

John Jr.: Because it’s autumn. 

JFK: Why does the snow come on the ground? 

John Jr.: Because it’s winter. 

JFK: Why do the leaves turn green? 

John Jr.: Because it’s spring. 

JFK: When do we go to the Cape? Hyannisport? 

John Jr.: Because it’s summer. 

JFK: It’s summer. 

John Jr.: [laughter] Your horses. 

JFK: [Returning to his Dictaphone] I was shocked by the death of Diem and Nhu. I’d met Diem …”


This audio excerpt is part of Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy, a collection of previously unreleased recordings selected by the John F. Kennedy Library and Historian Ted Widmer that will be released as a hardcover and 2-CD set tomorrow, September 25. Learn more about Listening In here.

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