“Mrs. Kennedy and Me” is a candid, but respectful memoir written by a man who considered Jackie a dear friend, even though he always called her Mrs. Kennedy and she always called him Mr. Hill, usually with a twinkle in her eye. He traveled to foreign countries with her that he never thought he’d see and she made sure he learned how to water-ski. He paced outside the hospital room as John Junior and Patrick were born and he spent more time with the Kennedy children than his own during those years.
Jackie was a deeply private person who was surprised and dismayed at the crowds that would gather every time she left the house. Hill prided himself on finding ways for her to just enjoy her privacy, and even did her personal shopping for her at times when the scrutiny was intense and the kids needed Christmas presents.
In what became the worst hour of his life, he also was part of the motorcade in Dallas and was the Secret Service agent closest to the limousine when the President was assassinated. He managed to jump onto the back of the limo before the third shot was fired but it was just too late for him to do anything but get Jackie back in her seat as the car accelerated.
“They came to me for assistance because I had been in Dallas and the other agent had not,” Hill says. “I had information that nobody else had and Lisa convinced me that the information I had was historical and should be documented. It’s been 50 years since most of that happened, so it’s time.”
Hill and McCubbin traveled to all the most important sites in the book so McCubbin could see them in person. They started in Hyannis, but then visited Palm Beach, New York City, Dallas and Middleburg, Virginia, where Jackie was trying to build a private retreat from the prying eyes.
During their research, they also reached out to other Secret Service agents and Hill relived those glory days and swapped stories. McCubbin says she was like “a fly on the wall,” and those stories enhanced the book immensely because they brought up other memories.
Then they set up an office in D.C. with two computers and worked side by side for nine months, doing research to make sure Hill’s memory matched news archives and the other agents’ notes and recollections.
“It was really a collaboration where we’d both do some writing and research and then we’d say, you read this and I’ll read that and add things, change things,” McCubbin says. “It was wonderful.”