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Nuke testing sparked Santa fears in girl

New York, Dec. 24 (AP): Over the years, Caroline Kennedy sometimes wondered about a third grade student who wrote to her father, President John F. Kennedy, worried that Russian bomb tests at the North Pole would kill Santa Claus.

Kennedy finally got to meet her during a segment of ABC’s Good Morning America programme. Kennedy’s recent bestselling book, A Family Christmas, includes the letter from an 8-year-old Michelle Rochon.

That girl, now Michelle Rochon Phillips, recounted what prompted her to write the October 1961 letter. Phillips said she sat down to write the letter after hearing her parents talking at the dinner table about nuclear testing at the North Pole.

According to a transcript of the interview, Phillips thought about what her parents had just said. Then she “sat down at the footstool and wrote the letter”.

The Marine City, Michigan, third grade student, wrote: “Please stop the Russians from bombing the North Pole because they will kill Santa Claus.” The President wrote back, and closed his note by saying: “You must not worry about Santa Claus, I talked with him yesterday and he is fine.”

He added: “He will be making his rounds this Christmas.” Caroline Kennedy said that for her father, as one of nine siblings, “Christmas was huge” and he appreciated the girl’s fears. She said the letters capture how the anxiety of the Cold War and nuclear testing permeated everyday life.

“There’s just so much about Christmas, and I think the history of Christmas and how it intersects with American history, George Washington, all the way upto President Kennedy,” she said.

“I think this is kind of the human side of Christmas, and how it’s kind of become also a patriotic holiday and it’s all wrapped up together.”

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