Jackie Kennedy Visits EB

Connie Stoddard: Started in 1958 as a Clerk; Retired in 1993 as a Private Secretary

connieOn May 8, 1962, Jackie Kennedy came to Electric Boat to christen the Lafayette. It was a big day. The six of us – the six clerks in the Insurance Department – were coat-check girls at the Hotel Griswold. It was a beautiful day and we arrived early so we would be in place.

Upstairs there were three rooms for Mrs. Kennedy and her contingent to freshen up. She had been to finishing school because she glided across that floor. Passed by me within less than three feet. She had her Jackie smile. It’s something you never forget.

When they all left, the six of us went upstairs to see what the rooms were really like. The flowers were beautiful. I brought some of them home and pressed them.

I still have the program and the invitation my mother and father received – he was an EB supervisor. A also have matches, napkins and a coat-check stub.

I always wanted to be a private secretary, and I did become one. I worked on many interesting projects, including S5G and NR1, the research submarine. I enjoyed going to work every day because I was not just a secretary. I was one of the team. That’s how everybody made you feel.

My last boss was Bob Gill. Our VP was Craig Haines. Both were nice, nice gentlemen. One day in 1993 there was going to be a big layoff in our department. That morning, Mr. Gill asked me to type up his retirement letter. He said, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I asked him to put me on the layoff list. I was always planning to retire when I was 55. That was only two years away. I said, “There’s a man that’s going to be laid off in this department. He more than likely has a family. He can be saved if I get laid off. I don’t really need to work two more years here. You wouldn’t have to find me a job.” He went to talk with Mr. Haines.

When he came back he said, “Mr. Haines said you can be number one on the list.” I appreciated that. I still feel in my heart today, I did the right thing. I had a great career. I set a goal for myself and I achieved it. And I made many new friends who I still have today.