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” Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law? Or is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty? ” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy, 1973

Regatta Weekend – July 1969

( excerpts from Senatorial Privilege by Leo Damore )

Every summer, the Edgartown Yacht Club sponsored the Edgartown Regatta off Martha’s Vineyard. The Kennedys had been attending the regatta for years, and their celebrations were the stuff of legend. Their 1966 regatta party had been “riotous,” and 1967 equally festive, leaving a rented cottage in shambles. The assassination of Robert Kennedy had kept the family away in 1968, but in the spring of 1969 plans were under way to resume the festivities.


The Lawrence Cottage ~ Chappaquiddick

Two Kennedy boats, the Resolute and the Victura, were entered in the 1969 races, and Ted Kennedy felt that the weekend’s festivities provided the perfect situation to reunite the members of Bobby’s campaign staff, affectionately known as the “Boiler Room Girls” because of the tough back room work they did.

Joseph Gargan, Ted Kennedy’s cousin and lawyer, agreed to make the arrangements. He reserved rooms for the women at the Katama Shores Inn near Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. Teddy and the other men would be put up at the Shiretown Inn. Gargan also searched for a cottage on the water which would serve as the site for their cookout and party after the races.
– When he discovered that all suitable accommodations on the water in Edgartown had already been taken, Gargan settled on the Lawrence Cottage on the nearby island of Chappaquiddick. This cottage was near the beach, and allowed the party-goers to stay through Sunday. “That’s the main reason I rented the place”, Gargan said.

Joseph A. Gargan

Beginning in 1940, a young Joey Gargan had been sent to spend summers in Hyannis Port with his cousin Ted Kennedy. An overweight, good natured 8-year-old, Teddy was delighted with his new playmate. Muscular and athletic, Joey Gargan could take care of himself and, it turned out, Teddy too.
– Used to doing chores, Gargan was handy with tools, something alien to his cousin who couldn’t change a tire on a bicycle or use a screwdriver. So resourceful was his cousin, that Teddy came to rely on him, confident that whatever the problem, “Joey’ll fix it.”

This relationship would continue into their adult years, and was put to the ultimate test after the accident at Chappaquiddick. For nearly 20 years, Gargan suffered in silence from the wounds inflicted on him by the tragedy that killed Mary Jo Kopechne.


Following his brother Bobby’s death, “a general discouragement with Ted’s off-hour antics” was being privately expressed within the Kennedy circle.
~ The Education of Edward Kennedy by Burton Hersh

Time reported that Ted had been drinking more heavily since his brother’s death, and “he has been a different and deeply-troubled man”. Those close to Kennedy saw signs of a recklessness at odds with his expanding presidential prospects. Accepting an assignment from Life to cover Ted Kennedy after his brother’s assassination, writer Brock Brower concluded that the insecurities, fatalism and fast-living showed Ted was seeking to escape the inevitable candidacy for President. “Some thought his drinking had got beyond the strains it was supposed to relieve,” he said.
~ Senatorial Privilege by Leo Damore

John Lindsay of Newsweek saw “an all too-familiar pattern emerging.” Kennedy was slipping out of control toward some unavoidable crackup.

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