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November 29, 2023 50 mins

“Nepo Baby” is a term popularly used to describe the celebrity children of celebrity parents. But family connections affect every field of work, and always have. And where family is involved, so is drama. Mo tells the stories of three of history’s biggest Nepo Babies: Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford; President John Quincy Adams, the son of President John Adams; and Pushinka, daughter of Soviet space dog Strelka. (Yes, fur babies can be nepo babies!)

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Live from Television City in Hollywood.

Speaker 2 (00:06):
On the evening of October thirteenth, nineteen fifty seven, millions
of Americans sat down to watch a special event on
television featuring some of the country's most popular entertainers.

Speaker 3 (00:19):
Ing Crosbie, Frank Sinatra, lorosbry Clony, Loie Armstrong.

Speaker 2 (00:28):
But the real star of the show its yes, the Edsel,
the car that the Ford Motor Company, sponsors of this show,

was introducing to the public with unprecedented fanfare. Here's being
Crosbie with old blue eyes, Frank Sinatra.

Speaker 1 (00:59):
This is an opening show.

Speaker 3 (01:00):
Oh you're know on TV for Edzel to go all
the way. It's a great card too, bing and they're
putting on a great square.

Speaker 2 (01:04):
It was a big night when the Edzel first came out.
This was a big deal, right.

Speaker 4 (01:10):
It was about as big a deal as you can imagine.

Speaker 2 (01:13):
But not too big to fail. Just two years after
its launch, the ed Sell was out of gas. The
very name immortalized as a byword for failure. But Edzell
wasn't just the name of a car.

Speaker 4 (01:29):
Edgell was the name of Henry Ford's only son.

Speaker 2 (01:32):
And one of history's most famous NEPO babies. Yes, nepo baby.
The nepo is short for nepotism. You may have heard
the term nepo baby to describe celebrity children born to
celebrity parents and all the advantages that come with that.
But family connections affect every field of work and always

have And when family is involved, so is drama. In
this episode, we'll tell you the story of Henry and
Ed sul Ford. Oh the pressure of being the son
of that guy.

Speaker 4 (02:09):
It had to be tough, knowing that you would never
be able to top what your father had done because
it couldn't be done anymore.

Speaker 2 (02:17):
You'll also hear about the first father and son to
make it to the White House. Service is the family business.

Speaker 5 (02:25):
Service is the family business because the family business is America.

Speaker 2 (02:28):
And speaking of the White House, we'll recount the tale
of the famous daughter who strolled into sixteen hundred Pennsylvania
Avenue on four legs. Was Pushinka a nepo baby?

Speaker 6 (02:42):
I would have to say yes, I mean, look at
the lineage she came from.

Speaker 2 (02:46):
Three stories, three families, three big names, well two if
you don't count the dog from CBS Sunday Morning and
iHeart I'm Morocca. And this is mobituary this moment, NEPO,

Babies of History, Edzel, Ford, John Quincy Adams, and Prushinka
the Dog. You say the word ed Sel and most

people think what.

Speaker 4 (03:32):
A synonym for failure or commercial product failure in any event.

Speaker 2 (03:36):
That's Matt Anderson. He's the curator of Transportation at the
amazing Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan.
For ten seasons, I've hosted the CBS television series Innovation
Nation at the Henry Ford, and Matt is my go
to guy for all things automotive.

Speaker 4 (03:58):
I like to think that the ed Sel was overstyled, oversold,
and overpriced.

Speaker 2 (04:05):
Would you say it was a bad car.

Speaker 4 (04:08):
I don't think the Edzel was a bad car per se.
I mean it was a solid vehicle. The engineering did work,
but it just wasn't what the market wanted. Ford promised
something entirely new in automotive engineering and design, and in
the end, the Edgel just had things that are kind
of gimmicky.

Speaker 2 (04:25):
The Edzel was meant to compete with mid priced cars
like Chrysler's Dodge and GM's Pontiac and Buick, and it
boasted several genuine innovations like system warning lights on the dashboard,
which every car made today has, But it also had
features no one seemed to need, like a rolling dome speedometer,

and debuting in the midst of a recession, it's low
miles per gallon was a non starter for most consumers.
As for the design of the car, it got attention
all right, the wrong to attention the oddly shaped vertical
grill at the front. Comedian Danny Thomas said it made
the car look like an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon. Others

likened the grill's shape to something more risque.

Speaker 4 (05:14):
That was a comment made at the time. It made
ever since, yes, at the Edzel represented a certain anatomical part,
and we'll leave it at that.

Speaker 2 (05:22):
The company had spent ten years and two hundred and
fifty million dollars on the Edsol. After just three model
years and a loss of three hundred and fifty million,
the Edzel was discontinued over sixteen years after the man
for whom it was named, someone who had nothing to
do with the car, had died. The final insult to

a man who never got the credit he deserved from
the public or from his own father.

Speaker 4 (05:51):
When folks generations into the future think back on the
twentieth century. There are just a few names that are
going to be remembered, and Henry Ford's is one of them.

Speaker 2 (06:00):
Henry Ford revolutionized mass industrial production with the assembly line.
He introduced the five dollar workday, helping to create a
middle class, and he was the man behind the vehicle
that changed America.

Speaker 4 (06:15):
The Model T which Henry Ford had designed and introduced,
changed the automobile from being a plaything for the wealthy
into a tool of everyday life.

Speaker 3 (06:24):
It ended the isolation of the farmer and made the
Sunday ride at National Institution.

Speaker 2 (06:30):
When Edsel Ford rolled off the assembly line on November sixteenth,
eighteen ninety three, courtesy of Henry and Clara Ford, the
family wasn't yet wealthy. Henry was still just getting started.

Speaker 4 (06:43):
Just about six weeks after Edsel was born, he built
his first internal combustion engine and it worked. He only
ran it for about thirty seconds or so, but that
moment kind of was a Eureka moment for Henry Ford
and knew that this was what he was going to do.
He was going to get into the automobile business.

Speaker 2 (07:00):
An only child, Edseell grew up alongside that business. At
age two, he wrote in his father's first gas powered automobile,
the Quadricycle PSI, I've driven in a replica of the original,
four big bicycle wheels, a little buggy seat and no brakes.
You had to use your foot to stop at Fred
Flintstone style. As a young boy, Edsell spent hours drawing

imaginative designs for his own cars. As a teenager, he
spent as much time as he could after school at
his father's auto plant, helping with the mail, attaching brass
tags to new vehicles, and in nineteen oh eight, when
Edseell was sixteen years old, Henry unveiled the Model T.

Speaker 4 (07:42):
I think it's a measure of the esteem in which
his father held him at that point that Edzell was
a part of a very small group who was involved
in designing the Ford Model T. Henry literally built a
kind of a secret room in the corner of the
factory where his top engineers would sit and work through
what this automobile should be, and Edzell was there for
all of those discussions.

Speaker 2 (08:03):
As soon as he graduated from high school, Edzell went
to work for his father full time, a newspaper at
the time described him as quote a quiet, hard working
youngster with a desk in his father's office, as familiar
with every branch of the business as any of the
officers in the company.

Speaker 4 (08:20):
He was elected to the board of directors in nineteen
fifteen when he was all of twenty two years old.
So he moves pretty quickly from the bottom up to
the upper reaches of Ford Motor Company.

Speaker 2 (08:31):
Do you think that he worried that people thought he
was there only because he was the boss's son.

Speaker 4 (08:38):
That had to nagg at the back of Edgell's conscious
that people somewhere up or down the line at Ford
Motor Company would have thought he was just there by
virtue of who his father was.

Speaker 2 (08:48):
When Edzell asked for an exemption from military service during
World War One to keep working at Ford Motor Company,
he was accused of being a draft dodger.

Speaker 4 (08:59):
I think that on him because he really did believe
that he was of more value working at Ford Motor
Company than overseas.

Speaker 2 (09:07):
But Edseell, who was named president of the company at
age twenty five, would prove himself worthy of his position
and in many ways a stark contrast to his father.

Speaker 4 (09:18):
They were very much different. In fact, about as polar
opposite as you could imagine. Henry grew up on a farm.
He never finished his grade school education and kind of
worked his way up to his ultimate career goals.

Speaker 2 (09:31):
Here's Henry espousing his belief that success starts and ends
with hard work.

Speaker 6 (09:38):
The young man makes his mind the work.

Speaker 2 (09:40):
There's no event of what he can do, makes up
his mind to.

Speaker 5 (09:46):
That's the idea.

Speaker 2 (09:47):
Where he has much an.

Speaker 7 (09:50):
He must study.

Speaker 2 (09:51):
And Henry was proudly unpolished. On the other hand, ed
Sell was urbane and sophisticated. Henry did trust experts. Edseell
admired them. Henry had little interest in the arts. Edzell
was a great patron of music and art in Detroit.
He commissioned the monumental Detroit Industry Murals from Mexican artist

Diego Rivera for the Detroit Institute of Arts, and let
me tell you, if you are ever in the Motor City,
you must must go see them. Henry never drank and
kept a close circle of friends. Edsell loved to socialize.
You know, people talk about work life balance today. Did
they differ on that score?

Speaker 4 (10:35):
Absolutely? Henry lived and breathed his work. Even when he
was at home, he was still thinking about what was
going on at the Ford Motor Company. Whereas Edsel he
would put in his forty hours of fifty hours, whatever
it took in the company. But when he went home,
that was his time to enjoy with his family, to
enjoy recreational pursuits, to enjoy education in Richmond, whatever it

might be.

Speaker 2 (10:57):
Edseell married Eleanor Clay in nineteen sixteen. They wasted no
time in starting a family. Their first child, Henry Ford,
the second, was born in nineteen seventeen. They went on
to have three more. Now, in terms of whom you'd
rather have.

Speaker 4 (11:12):
As a boss, Henry had a very gruff management style,
his way or the highway. Edzel preferred to let people
talk about different options and think it over and come
to a logical conclusion.

Speaker 2 (11:23):
Edseel was just a lot friendlier.

Speaker 4 (11:25):
And ed made a point of greeting everybody on the
way into work in the morning, from the people on
the ground level there right on up to the senior executives.
And Henry always had a kind of a holder look
about him, particularly as he got older, you know, almost
a scowl about him, which would make him a little scary.

Speaker 2 (11:43):
And not to be rude, but from certain angles he
could look like mister Burns from the Simpsons.

Speaker 4 (11:48):
That's an adequate embarrasson I think there.

Speaker 2 (11:51):
I wonder if Henry was a jealous of his son
when he saw how much employees liked Edsel.

Speaker 4 (11:57):
I would imagine to some extent too, Henry was probably
yellis just of Edzel's youth. It's inevitable as we get older,
and here's Edzel rising up and just hitting the peak
in the prime of his own life. And it's a
time that's passed for Henry. So that had to have
been a part of it too.

Speaker 2 (12:12):
Did Henry ever try to undermine his son?

Speaker 4 (12:15):
Unfortunately, Henry undermined his son at just about every turn.

Speaker 2 (12:21):
Edseell may have been the company's president, but Henry never
actually gave up the wheel. He retained full authority. Case
in point, when the Highland Park plant was becoming overcrowded,
senior managers appealed to Edseell.

Speaker 4 (12:36):
So after listening to this and seeing the evidence, Edgel said,
let's build an annex, a new building for administrative offices.
And they gotten to the point where they dug a
hole for the foundation.

Speaker 2 (12:47):
But when Henry saw the hole, he didn't like it.
He put the kebash on Edsel's expansion plans.

Speaker 4 (12:53):
And try to reason with his father pushed back against
this idea. Henry wouldn't hear it, and Edsel finally just
as okay, fine, we'll close everything down, We'll fill in
the hole. You'd think that would be the end of it,
but it wasn't. Henry said no, no, don't fill in
the hole. Leave it that way. And so for several
months afterwards, everyone who came into Ford Motor Company saw

this big, gaping hole in the ground. They were infect
reminded every morning of who had the final say at
Ford Motor Company. So absolutely humiliating.

Speaker 2 (13:24):
And to do that to his own son, yeah, very
very cruel. Driving father and son farther apart where they're
differing views on the world. Henry was viciously and very
publicly anti semitic.

Speaker 4 (13:38):
That is the darkest stain on Henry Ford's character and
one that has not gone away and won't and shouldn't.
He was a virulent antisemit.

Speaker 2 (13:46):
In nineteen eighteen, Henry purchased the Dearborn Independent newspaper, which
a year and a half later under his direction, began
publishing a series of articles entitled The International jew The
World's Problem, which claimed there was a vast Jewish conspiracy
and blamed the Jewish people for everything from war to

jazz music. The newspaper was distributed at dealerships across the country,
reaching a circulation of nine hundred thousand, and.

Speaker 4 (14:18):
Edzell and Clara too. To their credit, they were on
the board of directors quote unquote of the Dearborn Independent
because it was owned entirely by the Ford family. They resigned.
Edgell in particular, said no, I'm not going to have
anything to do with this newspaper. He knew he couldn't
stop his father from publishing it, but at least he
wasn't going to be a part of it.

Speaker 2 (14:36):
And then in the mid nineteen twenties came a rift
over Henry's other child, his beloved Model T.

Speaker 4 (14:44):
The car was absolutely cutting edge in nineteen oh eight
nineteen oh nine when it was built and introduced, but
by the mid twenties eight to ninosaur.

Speaker 2 (14:53):
The Chevrolet was helping General Motors roar passed Ford. But
Henry didn't want to hear it.

Speaker 4 (14:58):
That slump in the Model Tea's sales which really fall
off a cliff. Starting about nineteen twenty five is where
the break between Henry and Edsel really begins, where they're
more or less friendly and familial relationship starts to fall apart.

Speaker 2 (15:12):
After years of pleading, Edzell finally convinced Henry to trade
in the Model T for the bigger and better looking
Model A.

Speaker 4 (15:21):
The Model A is no doubt the first Ford automobile
that had real style to real class.

Speaker 2 (15:27):
Boy, it seems like the cars that each of them
championed were sort of a reflection of them temperamentally right.
The Model T so important, ultimately very practical, The Model
A nicer to look at, more comfortable to drive.

Speaker 1 (15:43):

Speaker 2 (15:45):
With its design supervised by Edseel, the Model A went
on to sell over four and a half million and
put Forward back on top. Henry took the credit, but
it was Edsel's triumph and not his only one. Ed
Soul was the driving force behind Ford's first luxury vehicle,
the Lincoln Continental, which architect Frank Lloyd Wright called the

most beautiful car in the world.

Speaker 4 (16:11):
To this day, critics enthusiasts alike will refer to it
as one of the most beautiful American production cars ever built.

Speaker 3 (16:18):
The United States, even when it is running and low,
is a pretty big business proposition.

Speaker 2 (16:23):
You are now hearing rare audio of the press shy
ed soel Ford appearing alongside his father in nineteen thirty five.

Speaker 3 (16:31):
What I believe the country is getting ready to make
a very decided step forward next year, and we are
doing all we can to help it along. What do
you think of that, Brodoc? But I think everybody has
decided that they've.

Speaker 1 (16:43):
Got to go to work.

Speaker 2 (16:45):
By that point, Ford Motor Company, under ed Sel, was
playing a major role in aviation.

Speaker 4 (16:52):
People might not realize Ford Motor Company was very busy
in the aviation business in the nineteen twenties into the
very early nineteen thirties. They built one hundred and ninety
nine four Trimotor airplanes, which were really the first successful
all metal commercial aircraft flown in the United States.

Speaker 2 (17:09):
When America entered World War II, Edsel oversaw production of
one bomber per hour at the company's Willow Run plant.

Speaker 4 (17:18):
It was Edseel that was there running the company, meeting
with the government, meeting with the military, making things happen.
I don't think it's too much of a stretch to
say that Edgell made his dying breadth toward for World
War II production of Ford Motor Company. He gave his
every last ounce to that effort.

Speaker 2 (17:35):
It was during the war, in nineteen forty three that
Edseell began experiencing intense pain in his stomach. His physician
diagnosed him with ulcers. When the pain didn't subside, Edseell
visited specialists who discovered that he was suffering from stomach cancer.

Speaker 4 (17:54):
Sadly, at that point it had spread to other organs,
and you have to wonder if they had not misdiagnosed
it as ulcers. You know, even in the early forty
stomach cancer wasn't necessarily fatal.

Speaker 2 (18:05):
But even as he weakened, Edzell continued working at the office,
does he tell his father?

Speaker 4 (18:12):
Edgell tells his father about his condition. Unfortunately, Henry sort
of dismissed the whole thing. He said, well, no, Edgell's
just feeling sick because he's partying too much, he's drinking
too much, he's not eating the right foods, and Henry
was a fanatic on diet. I think Henry refused to
accept that his son could be terminally ill because this
was the person who was going to keep for Boter

company going.

Speaker 2 (18:35):
Eventually, Edzell was confined to his home in Gross Point.
Henry and Clara visited their son's bedside, but even in
Edzell's final weeks of life, Henry was ignoring reality, insisting
to associates that Edzell would be back at work in
just a few weeks. Edzell Bryant Ford died on May

twenty ninth, nineteen forty three. The obituary from the New
York Times read, in the untimely death of Edsel Ford
at age forty nine, the nation has suffered a serious loss.
Self effacing and instinctively avoiding the limelight. He had been
for more than two decades, in every sense, a full

partner of his father.

Speaker 4 (19:23):
There's a great story about some of the Ford production
managers coming in to work the day after Edgel passed
away and seeing the flag and half deaf, and they
just upped the car and kind of burst into tears
because they all knew what that meant and who they
had lost. So, you know, people really did admire Edsel,
and in whole life, Henry had just been trying to

turn Edseel into something that he wasn't He wanted his
son to be more like himself, the same personality, the
same kind of throat instincts, and that just wasn't going
to happen.

Speaker 2 (19:58):
After Edzell's death, had his own health went into rapid decline.
He suffered a series of small strokes and a brain hemorrhage,
and four years later died at his home in Dearborn
on April seventh, nineteen forty seven. A decade later, the
Ford Motor Company debuted its ed Cel line. How should

edsel Ford be remembered?

Speaker 4 (20:23):
Edsel Ford should not be remembered for the Edseel automobile.
And that's one of the great ironies in American automotive history.
People hear that name, they think about that failed car,
and of course only did he have nothing to do
with it. It really is the antithesis of what he stood for.
And he should be remembered for his successes, certainly aviation
for the Lincoln Continental, and he should also be remembered

for his work during World War Two. So there's no
question that he served his country in the highest and
best sense.

Speaker 2 (20:55):
Coming up the Adams family, a NEPO baby seeks to
redeem his father at the ballot box.

Speaker 5 (21:02):
I think he realized that he would have to carry
on the family's name but also make it his own.

Speaker 2 (21:15):
Imagine a Mount Rushmore of Nepo babies. We would probably
include edsel Ford. We'd also have to save a spot
for Jesus, since after all, he's the son of God.
I'd give the third spot to e Liza Minelli. She's
the daughter of Judy Garland and director Vincent Manelli, so
she had a leg up in Hollywood from birth, but

she earned that Oscar for Cabaret. As for that fourth slot, well,
considering that the actual Mount Rushmore is for presidents, I'm
giving it to our sixth president, who was also the
son of our second president. I'm talking about John Quincy Adams.
And yes it's Quinsy, not Quincy. Now edsel Ford's father

helped invent the modern age, that's daunting. But John Quincy
Adams's dad helped invent a country, the United States. When
your father is not just your father, but is a
founding father, that's got to be a lot of pressure.

Speaker 5 (22:14):
It's a tremendous amount of pressure. And it's not just
any of the founders. It's John and Abigail Adams.

Speaker 2 (22:22):
Alexis co is a presidential historian. She calls John and
Abigail the original helicopter parents. And yes, I realized helicopters
didn't exist in the colonial era, but you get the picture.

Speaker 5 (22:35):
They were involved in every aspect of their children's life.

Speaker 2 (22:38):
They were all up in it, right.

Speaker 5 (22:40):
There is a really long to do list. It's exhausting.

Speaker 2 (22:43):
Just one item on that list translating the works of
Greek historian Thucydides. Mind you, Quincy was just ten years
old at the time.

Speaker 5 (22:52):
And from a young age he showed promise. It wasn't
just that he was the eldest son, It's that he
was exceptional.

Speaker 2 (23:01):
The second of six, Quinsy was born July eleventh, seventeen
sixty seven in Braintree, Massachusetts.

Speaker 5 (23:09):
He is funny, he is pithy, but he's so serious
and like his parents, and more like his father, he's
always stressed out.

Speaker 2 (23:17):
Well, of course, this is not a normal child rearing.
Aside from being the son of a founding father. There's
a revolution going on.

Speaker 7 (23:25):

Speaker 5 (23:25):
Literally outside their home they're seeing soldiers march by. They
are aware that they are a prominent family in what
the British are calling a rebellion. They're not calling it
a revolution.

Speaker 2 (23:39):
If this rebellion fails, his father could be executed right.

Speaker 5 (23:45):
Very likely it is a treasonous act.

Speaker 2 (23:48):
During the height of the Revolutionary War, the young boy
traveled with his father on missions to Europe on behalf
of the fledgling Republic. Crossing the ocean wasn't exactly smooth
sand First, their ship was struck by lightning, and then
they traded fire with and captured an enemy vessel. At
the ripe old age of fourteen, Quincy was sent off

without his father to Russia, where he served as secretary
to the American diplomat, Francis Dana. The CBS News archives
don't go back that far, but here's the dramatized version
courtesy of the HBO John Adams mini series, with the
excellent Paul Giamatti in the title role.

Speaker 8 (24:30):
You must not let the idea of going to Russia
frighten you. You're fourteen years old, Johnny, already a man
and never one for childish pursuits. Yes, and I have
confidence that you will make both of us very proud.

Speaker 9 (24:49):
I would rather stay you with you, father.

Speaker 2 (24:51):
Funny. When I was fourteen, my father was sending me
off to the drug store with quarters to play Ms.
Pac Man. Now, even as a kid, Quinsy documented it all,
but his diaries had pictures.

Speaker 5 (25:08):
He's a doodler, So we have all these great journals
in which he's drawing ships and people, and he's writing
not only for himself and for the letters he has
to write home, but also because he's really aware that
they are significant in history if they make it. But
if they make it.

Speaker 10 (25:26):
I love though that he's doodling because it's the reminder
that he's just a kid. He's fourteen, so he's doodling
in the eighteenth century equivalent of a trapper keeper basically right.

Speaker 2 (25:37):
Absolutely, And while there were no pop stars around back then,
Quincy definitely had an American idol.

Speaker 5 (25:45):
He was nothing short of a fanboy for George Washington.
When he was abroad on his own and he was
living at the Hague, he put up what is basically
the equivalent of a poster of George Washington.

Speaker 2 (25:58):
And George Washington was impressed by young Quincy, as were
many of the founding fathers.

Speaker 5 (26:03):
They all believed that he had incredible potential to continue
their legacy without However, nepotism, because, of course, we were
not a monarchy.

Speaker 2 (26:12):
Now. Most of the children of the founding fathers could
only land jobs through their connections. By and large, they
were a pretty mediocre bunch, including Quinsy's own siblings. His
brother Charles was described by their father, John Adams as
quote a madman possessed of the devil. At fifteen, Charles

was caught streaking across Harvard Yard. By age thirty, he'd
abandoned his law practice, and his family brother Thomas, was
described as a bully and a brute, and was equally unsuccessful.
Their sister Nabby, married a man, Abigail Adams, deemed wholly
devoid of judgment. His shady business dealings consigned Nabby to

a life of financial insecurity. Quincy, on the other hand,
sought only to please John and Abigail. The first and
deepest of all my wishes, he wrote, is to give
satisfaction to my parents. He graduated with highest honors from Harvard,
whereby all accounts, he kept his clothes on in public,

before embarking on a brilliant career in diplomacy, serving every
president from Washington through Monroe. Quinsy helped negotiate the Treaty
of Ghent ending the War of eighteen twelve, and as
President Monroe's Secretary of State, he formulated the policy barring
European involvement in the Americas, also known as the Monroe Doctrine.

Now early in his diplomatic career, his father served as
the nation's first vice president. Then in seventeen ninety six,
John Adams was elected the nation's second president. Shortly after
his father's inauguration, Quinsy married the British Louisa Catherine Adams.
She would become our first fife foreign born first lady.

They would have four children. Of course, there were some
family drama of their own when they named their eldest
after none other than George Washington.

Speaker 5 (28:11):
Which was not totally unheard of, but it's certainly significant
to name your child George Washington when your father was
also kind of a big deal.

Speaker 2 (28:21):
Let me ask did that hurt his parents' feelings.

Speaker 5 (28:24):
Here's what's interesting is John Adams would complain about the
smallest of things for pages upon pages, and he would
not only do it in one letter, he'd repeat it
in nine different letters. But sometimes he left this kind
of personal business. Shall we say to Abigail, and Abigail
wrote to Quincy's brother that when Quinsy named his child

George Washington, that it hurt his father's feelings.

Speaker 2 (28:54):
It seems that Quinsy got the memo. He named his
second son, John George Washington Adams, was born just a
few months after his grandfather was voted out of the
White House. John Adams was the first president to lose
a bid for reelection and serve only one term, a

tough pill to swallow for the whole Adams family. How
did this affect John Quincy Adams.

Speaker 5 (29:22):
I think he realized that he would have to carry
on the family's name but also make it his own.

Speaker 2 (29:30):
And so Quincy decided to run for president in eighteen
twenty four. According to biographer Paul C. Nagel, one of
Quincy's motives was to quote emulate or surpass his revered
father's distinguished career and thereby burnish the Adams family name.
After a nasty four way race that included Andrew Jackson,

John Quincy Adams was elected our sixth president. When he
notified his father, the aging and normally reserved former president
responded movingly, never did I feel so much solemnity as
upon this occasion, the multitude of my thoughts and the
intensity of my feelings are too much for a mind

like mine. In its ninetieth year.

Speaker 5 (30:17):
It's the first American dynasty. It's significant. He's proud, but
he's also got to then sort of instill certain boundaries
with his father, with other people, and he's well aware
that he needs to be his own.

Speaker 1 (30:31):

Speaker 2 (30:32):
John Quincy Adams became the first non founding father to
hold the nation's highest office, but he'd seen all his
predecessors in action up close. This is where being a
NEPO baby, I think is probably useful for everyone, because
he kind of knew all these guys growing up.

Speaker 5 (30:49):
He did, and he took notes. He understood it was
a great privilege.

Speaker 2 (30:53):
Alas much like his father's time in office, Quinsy struggled.
He'd come into the office without a popular majority, and
throughout his term he faced opposition on everything from his
support for education to his proposal for a national observatory.
His happiest time as president kneeling in the White House

garden growing vegetables. It was during his term that his
father died on July fourth, eighteen twenty six, the very
same day, Thomas Jefferson died, the fiftieth anniversary of the
country's founding. Yes, that sound you're hearing is thunder. In

the following presidential election, a dispirited Quinsy was trounced by
Andrew Jackson. He returned to Massachusetts an unsuccessful one termer,
the only one term president since his father.

Speaker 5 (31:48):
I think he almost always felt like he was on
the precipice of failure. To have it realized was probably
the worst thing that ever happened to him.

Speaker 2 (31:58):
And then months later a terror personal loss. His son,
George Washington Adams died by suicide by throwing himself from
a ferry into the Long Island Sound. Quinsy, like John
Adams before him, was a demanding father, and it may
have been an imminent confrontation with the old man that

pushed George over the edge. At this point, John Quincy
Adams could have retired to a quiet life.

Speaker 5 (32:27):
He would have felt as if he was wasting his potential,
because these are people who believe in service.

Speaker 2 (32:35):
Service is the family business.

Speaker 5 (32:37):
Service is the family business, because the family business is America.

Speaker 2 (32:41):
John Quincy Adams did not retreat into private life. Instead,
after much encouragement, he decided to run for a seat
in the House of Representatives from his home state of Massachusetts,
and he won in a landslide. But wasn't this a
step down from the presidency.

Speaker 5 (33:00):
Absolutely not. It's doing real work, meaning legislation, representing people,
not just this performance of being the president and hosting
and all those things which nobody really likes. You're actually
doing work, and I think he loved it.

Speaker 2 (33:20):
At age sixty four, service in Congress meant a chance
at redemption for himself and the Adams family, and in
this final act Quincy found a new passion in the
fight against slavery. It's important to note of the first
twelve presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams were the

only two not to own slaves.

Speaker 9 (33:44):
This is the most important case I've come before this
court because what it didn't fat concerns it's the very
nature of man.

Speaker 2 (33:55):
That's Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams in the nineteen
ninety seven Steven Spielberg film Armistad. In eighteen thirty nine,
fifty three enslaved Africans managed to take control of their
captor's ship, the schooner Armistad, before the ship itself was
taken into custody off the coast of Connecticut. The fate

of the Africans, whether they'd be allowed to return to Africa,
divided the nation. The case made its way to the
Supreme Court, and the now seventy two year old Quincy,
who had earned the nickname Old Man Eloquent, argued the
case on behalf of the Africans. Here's Hopkins as Quinsy,

addressing the court, we.

Speaker 9 (34:39):
Desperately need your strength and wisdom to triumph over our fears,
our prejudices, ourselves. Give us the courage to do what
is right. And if it means civil war, then let
it come. And when it does, finally the last battle

of the American Revolution.

Speaker 2 (35:08):
Quincy's stature as a former president and the son of
a founding father meant he could not be easily dismissed.
Invoking the Declaration of Independence, he called for the African's
inalienable rights of life and liberty to be restored. The
Court agreed and ruled for the Africans. It was a

great triumph for Quincy, perhaps the most significant of his long,
long career. Seven years later, moments after casting a vote,
John Quincy Adams suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and collapsed on
the floor of the House of Representatives. He died two

days later. The Bible's Book of Luke includes the verse
to whom much is given, much is required. You may
be more familiar with the version in Spider Man. With
great power comes great responsibility. John Quincy Adams used all
that he'd been given in life to serve others until

the very end. A Nepo baby done good, coming up
after the break? Is she fluffy?

Speaker 1 (36:20):
She is definitely a fluffy dog.

Speaker 2 (36:23):
For babies can be Nepo babies do.

Speaker 3 (36:33):
Mister Khushav and I had a very full and frank
exchange of views on the major issues that now divide
are two countries.

Speaker 2 (36:42):
That's President John F. Kennedy in June of nineteen sixty one,
just back from his summit meeting in Vienna with Soviet
Premier Nikita Khrushchev. It was an especially tense time between
the superpowers. The arms race was in full swing, and
only months before Soviet Yuri Gagarin became the first man

in space. But in the public relations arena it was
no contest. The Soviets were definitely playing defense. Against JFK
and First Lady Jackie Kennedy. So Khrushchev launched his own
charm offensive by sending a glamorous young emissary to the
White House. Her name was Pushinka, and she was the

daughter of a famous Soviet cosmonaut. When Pushinka arrived on
us soil, she was naturally met with suspicion. Could she
be a spy? Some wondered if she might be bugged.
Legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas wrote at the time
that a dark eyed, platinum blonde temptress has invaded the

White House. But Pushenka was no spy. She wasn't even human.
Pushinka was a small white dog. Her name actually means
fluffy in Russian. I first learned about Pushenka back in
twenty oh four when I was writing my thriller about
presidential pets and their secret role in presidential decision making,

entitled All the President's Pets. Pushinka was the daughter of
the pioneering Soviet space dog Strelka. In August nineteen sixty,
Strelka and her co pilot Belka made headlines worldwide as
the first two dogs to come back from space. Alive.
Side note, Leika was the actual first dog in space.

In nineteen fifty seven. The Soviets shot her into space
without any expectation she'd survive. She didn't. I don't even
want to know what the Soviets did to cats. So yes,
Pushinka was a NEPO puppy.

Speaker 1 (38:56):
She is definitely a fluffy dog.

Speaker 2 (38:58):
Alan Price is the direct of the John F. Kennedy
Library and Museum.

Speaker 1 (39:03):
Kushink is a beautiful dog, absolutely and a lovely temperament,
very friendly dog.

Speaker 2 (39:08):
And the Kennedys were very comfortable around dogs. When they
moved into the White House the winter before, they brought
a long clipper, the German shepherd, Shannon the Cocker spaniel,
and Wolf the Irish wolfhound. And then there were all
their other pets.

Speaker 1 (39:25):
They've got Tom Kitten the cat. They have hamsters named
Debbie and Billy. They've got parakeets named blue Bell and
may Bell. It's really just incredible.

Speaker 2 (39:39):
They had a rabbit named Jaja, a gift from a magician.

Speaker 1 (39:43):
They embrace ponies. They have three of them, right. They've
got Macaroni and tex and Leprechaun.

Speaker 2 (39:52):
Funny enough, the President was allergic to both horses. And dogs,
But it seems he loved dogs more than he hated
to break out. Enter Poushinka, the only dog that came
with a passport. Seriously, she actually had a passport. I
like to imagine the day Poushenka came to Washington, the

other pets lined up inside the White House's grand foyer,
awaiting her arrival, wondering who is this mysterious creature they've
been hearing about. Suddenly the front doors open, the sunlight
floods in, first a silhouette, then the sound of the
dainty padding of feet, as the glamorous Pushinka strides in

her nose in the air, taking it all in but
not terribly impressed. The sense of nepo entitlement would be
galling if she weren't so beautiful. Indeed, before long, Pushenka
set tongues wagging, none more so than that of Charlie,
yet another one of the family's dogs, a roguishly handsome

Welsh Terrier and favorite of the President's Soon enough, Charlie
and Pushinka were an item.

Speaker 1 (41:03):
I believe they were exclusive, though there were certainly other
dogs who may or may not have been interested.

Speaker 2 (41:09):
Now, Charlie may have had the confidence to put the
moves on Pushenka because he too came from privilege. It
was said that his uncle was Skippy, the wirefox terrier
who famously plaid Asta in the thin Man series. So yes,
Charlie was a nepo nephew. It should be noted that

Poushenka wasn't just physically attractive.

Speaker 1 (41:33):
She's a very smart dog. She learns very quickly from
the gardeners that she can climb the ladders on the
children's slide, and so they put a peanut on each
step to get her to climb higher and hire and
then learn to slide down the slide on her own.

Speaker 2 (41:47):
The relationship between Charlie and Pushenka progressed quickly. I like
to imagine that they did that lady in the tramp
thing with the string of spaghetti. I assume all dogs
who fall in love do that. And in June nineteen
teen sixty three, Pushinka and Charlie became parents to four
adorable pups named Blackie, Butterfly, White Tip, and Streaker. President

Kennedy dubbed the offspring Pupnicks. Five thousand Americans wrote to
the Kennedys pleading to adopt the Pupnicks. Two lucky Midwest
families were given the honors. To some the union of
Charlie and Pushinka became a symbol of peaceful coexistence, a
heartwarming image during a particularly frosty period. But just five

months later, the meaning attached to the dogs would change.

Speaker 3 (42:40):
President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

Speaker 9 (42:44):
Today he was shot.

Speaker 1 (42:46):
When President Kennedy is assassinated, these pets become a big
part of the memories that America holds of a time
that ends so abruptly.

Speaker 2 (42:57):
Within weeks of the murder of President Kennedy, the family
and all their pets vacated the White House. Charlie was
sent to live with a Secret Service agent. But what
happened to Prushenka?

Speaker 3 (43:10):
So you still have Pushenka?

Speaker 6 (43:12):
And how old is she now?

Speaker 2 (43:14):
She's going on four years. Oh now, that's the voice
of Chief White House Gardener Irvin Williams. He was interviewed
in nineteen sixty five as part of an oral history
for the JFK Library. He recalled that he met with
Missus Kennedy just two days after the president was buried.

Speaker 7 (43:34):
And she asked me that time, did I still want
Pushenka and I said I should did, and she's as well.
The sheika is yours forever.

Speaker 6 (43:47):
They were very close.

Speaker 2 (43:48):
This is Irvin Williams's son, Bruce Williams.

Speaker 6 (43:52):
She kind of hung out in his office. I have
a picture of her under his death.

Speaker 2 (43:58):
Candidly, when I wrote about Shinka in my book on
Presidential Pets twenty years ago, I never gave much thought
to what happened to her after the President's assassination. But
after some Internet sleuthing, we were able to track down Bruce.
We connected on zoom. He's now in his mid sixties.

Speaker 6 (44:17):
I can get the picture and read to hear the caption.

Speaker 2 (44:20):
Bruce showed me a framed photo of the famous White
House Rose Garden that his father helped design. Missus Kennedy
signed the photo.

Speaker 6 (44:30):
She says for Irwin Williams, who made this garden so beautiful,
for the President who loved it so much, And it
says who will care for it now that he is gone?

Speaker 2 (44:41):
With deep regrets, Jacqueline Kennedy. So, Missus Kennedy trusted your
father to take care of the rose garden. Yes, she
also trusted him to take care of Pushinka.

Speaker 6 (44:54):
Yes, And he was very happy to do that, and
that's when she came home to our house.

Speaker 2 (45:01):
The Williams family lived in a more modest home in Vienna, Virginia,
just outside of Washington. Bruce was just six years old,
the fourth of five kids. So one day, just Pushenka
shows up in your house.

Speaker 6 (45:17):
Yes, my father comes home from work and Pushenka comes
in behind him, and she immediately runs under a chair,
and five kids are now eyeballing her, and my brother
sticks his hand in and she nips them. So we
all realized that we just need to leave her alone.

Speaker 2 (45:39):
But Pushenka soon adjusted to her new suburban life. Often
she'd perch on top of the couch gazing out the window.
The Williams has lived on three acres, so Pushenka may
have very well assumed that this was her country home
or datcha.

Speaker 6 (45:55):
And she knew when my father was coming home because
she would get up and go to the door. Her
tail was really almost like a fan or a fluff
or something. It was just full of hair. Was very cute.

Speaker 2 (46:07):
And was she as soft as you wanted her to be?

Speaker 3 (46:10):

Speaker 6 (46:10):
Yes, but she really wasn't a lap dog. I mean
she liked her belly to be rubbed, especially when you
were outside in the yard. She would like roll over
on her back and legs up in the air and
you could rub her belly.

Speaker 2 (46:24):
In honor of her heritage, Bruce and his siblings photographed
Pushinka in a Russian fur cap, and I have to
tell you, I love this picture.

Speaker 6 (46:33):
That was something we did as kids, so I think
that's when we realized that she was a Russian dog.

Speaker 2 (46:40):
I mean in that picture she really looks like Julie
Christi and doctor Shabako. You can just hear Laura's theme
just playing from that movie there.

Speaker 6 (46:51):
I think she was just a little princess in her
own right.

Speaker 2 (46:55):
As for this princess's throne, my.

Speaker 6 (46:57):
Father had a little bathroom that he would get ready
in the morning, and she found the niche behind the toilet,
and that was her home until nineteen seventy seven. That
was her happy place.

Speaker 2 (47:10):
And though she had receded from the spotlight, Pushinka was
still receiving fan mail until the very end. Pushinka died
in nineteen seventy seven. She was sixteen. Bruce's father, Irvin Williams,
was devastated.

Speaker 6 (47:27):
I was the one who took her to have her
put down, and he didn't want to be home when
I did that. I mean, she was really bad, but
he couldn't bring it himself to do that. So I
was the one who volunteered to do that. I mean
it was sad to do, but she was at peace.
That was the important part.

Speaker 2 (47:47):
Irvin Williams died in twenty eighteen. He was the longest
serving gardener in White House history, serving presidents from Harry
Truman through George W. Bush. But he once told a
reporter that he would probably be remembered more for his
association with Poushenka, and it seems that Irvin Williams was

more than fine with that. Poushenka's ashes were sprinkled in
his casket and engraved on the back of Williams's tombstone
were the words with trusted companion Poushenka.

Speaker 6 (48:22):
So she's with him the rest of his life or
internity wherever they're going.

Speaker 2 (48:29):
Was Poushinka a nepo baby?

Speaker 6 (48:32):
I would have to say yes, I mean, look at
the lineage she came from.

Speaker 2 (48:36):
But there's oftentimes a bad association with nepo baby. Did
Poushinka give off the kind of arrogance often associated with
nepo babies.

Speaker 6 (48:48):
I would say, no, she was just just a dog.
I think she'd just like to be by herself and
away from kids.

Speaker 2 (48:57):
And behind the toilet and behind the it. I certainly
hope you enjoyed this Mobituary. May I ask you to
please rate and review our podcast. You can also follow
Mobituaries on Facebook and Instagram, and you can follow me

on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter at Moroka.
Hear all new episodes of Mobituaries every Wednesday wherever you
get your podcasts and check out Mobituaries Great Lives Worth Reliving,
the New York Times best selling book, now available in
paperback and audiobook. It includes plenty of stories not in

the podcast. This episode of Mobituaries was produced by Liz Sanchez.
Our team of producers also includes Zoe Culkin and me Moroka,
with engineering by Josh Han. Our theme music is written
by Daniel Hart. Our archival producer is Jamie Benson. Mobituary's

production company is Neon Hummedia. Indispensable support from Alan Pang
and everyone at CBS News Radio. Special thanks to Steve Razis,
Rand Morrison, Wendy Metrose, Amiel Weis's vocal and Alberto Robina.
Executive producers for Mobituaries include Megan Marcus, Jonathan Hirsch, and Moraca.

The series is created by Yours Truly
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