JFK-GTH

No, those aren’t airports, though one — GTH — could be called a destination.

In this photo — believed to be unseen in Tradsville, and provided by comment-leaver GS — JFK has “gone to hell” in a vacation outfit while visiting volcanic Mount Lassen in northern California.

He appears to be clad in a navy blazer over a navy polo, but what are unmistakable are the red velvet slippers. Perhaps a lava reference, a gift from park administrators. Whatever the case, they certainly exhibit go-to-hell spirit, which is to say the wearer’s playful sin, at the risk of social judgment and hellfire. — CC

Photo credit: Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

26 Comments on "JFK-GTH"

  1. Perhaps a ( subconscious) display of red, white, and blue patriotism.

  2. Except there’s no white.

  3. Giacomo Bruno | May 10, 2018 at 12:38 pm | Reply

    I’d never before seen a photo of JFK in pajama pants and bedroom slippers

  4. Mitchell S. | May 10, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Reply

    JFK’s pants appear to be white from a distance. Plus, he was fond of wearing red/white/blue socks and outfits (Nantucket reds with a navy polo and white socks).

  5. Frank Trembly | May 10, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Reply

    Lest anyone think that’s a stuffed deer, here’s the next frame with the deer eating out of JFK’s hand:
    https://goo.gl/images/PZTHgU

  6. My own encounter with JFK was in a less rustic setting.
    In 1961 or 1962 my future wife* and I were walking along
    E. 57 St in Manhattan when we noticed a small crowd at
    the entrance of the fabled Le Pavilion restaurant. We joined
    the crowd and within minutes a smiling JFK in black tie emerged,
    accompanied by Jackie , Prince Radzwill and Lee Radzwill.
    Everyone clapped politely as the the President and his party
    entered the waiting limousine.

    * current wife

  7. red white (tailed deer) and blue…

  8. if it’s a blazer, it’s ridiculously short. and navy on navy?

    there’s another pic of JFK wearing old Weejuns, khakis, and a gray sweatshirt. better.

  9. @S.E.

    On a large enough monitor you can see four buttons the the sleeve and at least one button on front, so yes, it’s probably a blazer.

  10. Dylan Baldwin | May 10, 2018 at 11:21 pm | Reply

    S.E.:
    I hope that Messrs. Boyer and Press will confirm my memory that a navy polo shirt with a navy blazer was once considered to be quite de rigueur.

  11. Scott Sandler | May 10, 2018 at 11:45 pm | Reply

    Dylan,
    I am neither Mr. Boyer nor Mr. Press, but I can confirm your recollection that well-dressed gentlemen of a certain age did indeed wear navy polos with navy blazers. The white buttons on the polo and the fact that the shade of the polo’s navy and the blazer’s navy were not the same provided adequate contrast.

    Scott

  12. Richard Meyer | May 11, 2018 at 5:59 am | Reply

    I happen to have similar maroon slippers (monogrammed), but have never fed a deer with them on.

  13. That blazer may well be a cardigan

  14. Tweedy Prof | May 11, 2018 at 7:50 am | Reply

    @Richard Meyer
    A deer in maroon slippers?
    That must be quite a sight.

  15. Scott Sandler, you is right.

  16. Dylan Baldwin | May 11, 2018 at 11:36 am | Reply

    Mr Sandler and Mr Press:
    Thank you for your remarks letting me know that I wasn’t imagining things.

  17. Andrew Eastman | May 11, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Reply

    Didn’t think the “go to hell” look had anything to do with the wearer’s “playful sin” – thought it was called that because it broadcast obvious disregard for people’s opinions, as in: “You don’t like my pants? Go to hell.”

  18. Andrew, read the Tom Wolfe passage in which he coins the term go-to-hell. If you can’t find it in the search window, then maybe we should do a seperate post on it, or you can find it under “damned dapper,” I believe I quote it in my GTH story for The Rake (which you should also read if you haven’t).

    Knowing Wolfe’s literary style, I believe that he was using the adjectival phrase simply to mean “over the top” or “outlandish.” As you can see from the context, the Boston Brahmins he discusses have no reason to signal to other tribe members to go to hell, nor would they bother to send such messages to social inferiors.

    I don’t mind using the term GTH, but it’s been over a dozen years of trad on the web and men still seem to draw this same conclusion, which makes no sense in the context of WASP manners and mores, which gave us the look.

  19. Vern Trotter | May 11, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Reply

    The sleeve indicates it is a blazer but the body sure looks like a cardigan. GTH has almost always been used in the Tom Wolfe context has been my opinion.

    Outside a controlled environment, you wouldn’t want to get that close to a deer for fear of getting shot. I recently read that in Illinois, during a week hunting season, 70,000 deer were killed. Necessary but what a shooting party.

  20. Mitchell S. | May 11, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Reply

    Boston Brahmins are very somber, dark, and sober; something which is reflected in their clothing and shoes (Tom Wolfe’s “the Boston crackling shoe look.”

    So, when Boston Brahmins arrive on Martha’s Vineyard they signal to their peers that they are rebelling against (reaction formation here) the somber/dark dress code in Boston by wearing garish over-the top pants. It’s a way for Brahmins to say “go to hell” to the strict buttoned-up conformity of Beacon Hill Boston. (Just my opinion.)

  21. @Tweedy Prof – “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.” – Groucho Marx

  22. I spent an embarrassingly long amount of time comparing photographs of JFK’s blazer (seems that he only owned one, cut the same as all his other coats but with rather large gold buttons) and can confirm that he is wearing a blue blazer, navy polo shirt and light grey/stone trousers. I like the navy on navy, I wouldn’t have thought of it but it doesn’t look wrong.

    S.E., what makes you think that the blazer is too short?

  23. Tom Wolfe does indeed seem to have coined the phrase and used it in the sense that Christian quotes, but my experience is that it is commonly used as Andrew Eastman and Mitchell S do.

  24. Jean-Pierre Dumont | May 12, 2018 at 3:32 am | Reply

    I would hardly use the term “GTH” to refer to JFK’s red slippers; they simply look out of place.

  25. Uncle Ralph really pulls off the navy polo & navy blazer look, paired with lime trousers (tassel loafers and yellow socks not shown) for a wonderfully WASPy look:

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/3a/37/82/3a378296281782425c9d0cb7c5ea1bae.jpg

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