The “other” Boston Tea Party ...
and I was there ! This wasn’t 1774 when the Sons of Liberty dumped tons of tea into Boston Harbor. This was 1952 and I was attending Boston University at the time.
John F. Kennedy was a Massachusetts State Representative and had decided to run for the US Senate. His mother, Rose, was one of his biggest backers and she decided to host a series of teas in and around the Boston area to introduce John, (or “Jack“, as she called him). She felt, and rightly so as it turned out, that she would not only get the women to vote for him but that they would motivate their husbands to do the same.
I was studying for a Journalism degree then and our class received a blanket invitation to attend one of the teas. It was considered quite a coup to be invited so I was thrilled. I was not disappointed. Not only were Rose and John there but most of the rest of the female side of the Kennedy clan as well... serving tea and sweets and extolling the virtues of their brother and son.
It was interesting to me because, although my folks had voted for John in the state elections, they had little use for his father, Joe Kennedy. He had been the Ambassador to Britain in 1938 and his actions before, during and after that time were often suspect, to say the least.
John, however, was more than charismatic and the women’s heartbeats were practically palpable as he “played” the room, teacup in hand. I remember thinking that politics might be an exciting career but I’m glad now that I never pursued it.
That was the first of two times that I would shake JFK’s hand. The other was in 1960 when he was stumping to get the nod to run for President. He conducted a rail campaign and took a train from Boston to the outlying towns, making whistle stops along the way.
I was completely enthralled by this time and waited for many hours at the Wellesley Hills train depot so that I’d be in the front row. It was an excited and very loud crowd that gathered there to meet and greet him and I got my wish. After a short but vibrant speech he leaned down to us and, once again, I clasped his hand and wished him luck. Our country’s “day in the sun” was about to begin and it was a time of optimism and hope.
In 1961 John Fitzgerald Kennedy became our 35th President and in November of ‘63 he was assassinated. For so many of my generation “Camelot” truly came to an abrupt end at that time and our lives were changed forever.