Mary Jo Kopechne
“If you‘re going to party with sharks, you‘d better be able to swim.”
“I regret that she had but one life to give to her country.”
“I'm going to say that Mary Jo was driving.”
“Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law? Or is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty?”
“Had this not occurred seven decades after my death, I might have had a pithy, incisive quote to interject.”
Mary Jo Kopechne (July 26, 1940 – July 18, 1969) was 17 years old when Senator Ted Kennedy took her for a late-night swim inside his 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 after partying heartily all night to celebrate his late brother Bobby’s sexual affair with actress Marilyn Monroe, whom Bobby shared with brother John F. Kennedy, until they were, on different occasions, assassinated, possibly by their irate wives. Unfortunately, Kopechne was not nearly as strong a swimmer as Kennedy, and, hampered by her clothing and unable to swim or dogpaddle inside the close confines of the automobile which Kennedy had parked upside down at the bottom of Poucha Pond, below Dyke Bridge, she drowned.
Kennedy said that, upon surfacing, he noticed that his companion was not beside him and, assuming that she was playing a prank on him, he dove, several times, back to the automobile to ask her to join him. The tide was against him, though, and, finally, he had to give up. He swam ashore and returned to the house on Chappaquiddick Island to party, assuming that Kopechne had also swum ashore and gone home. Some time during the next 10 hours, Kennedy, by now quite inebriated, called Kopechne’s parents to make sure that she had gotten home safely. When her parents told him that she had not returned and that they’d assumed she was having sex with him, Kennedy, very concerned, contacted his lawyer. Shortly thereafter, the police arrived. The party, for him, they said, was over. Kennedy then quickly made a "Note to Self" that it's probably not a good idea to get a bj at the same time as you're coked out and drunk while you're driving a car. He then promised to never, never do that again and Americans everywhere shrugged and said "Oh OKAY!"
Kopechne was born in Forty Fort, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Coldwater College and, after a few false starts as a teacher, became a secretary for Bobby Kennedy. When Bobby was assassinated in 1968, Kopechne went to work for a firm that set up campaign headquarters for politicians and other lowlifes. The party at Chappaquiddik was to honor her work on behalf of the late Bobby.
Kopechne is buried in the St. Vincent's Roman Catholic Church parish cemetery on the side of Larksville Mountain in Plymouth, Pennsylvania. Her headstone bears a carving of a life preserver and the epigraph, “There’s something fishy about all this.”
The sordid affair, known locally, as "The Incident at Chappaquiddick," is memorialized on the postcards sold at the island resort.
A few years after Kopechne’s burial, Kennedy bought the bridge, had it dismantled, moved it to his home, and had it installed in his back yard, over a wide stream, as "a memento," as he says, "of the night" that a woman upon whom he'd had sexual designs "got away."
Megan Marshack in the 1970s decided Mary Jo was a good role model, so she followed in Mary Jo's footsteps. Well, her boyfriend, Nelson Rockefeller, didn't drown her, but she came awfully close to that point. He died on top of her. Eeeeeew!
Another follower of Kopechne's philosophy was Monica Lewinsky. Luckily for her, the affair she generated only led to a failed impeachment.