Monday, June 09, 2008

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.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

What life experiences you continue to unfold. Keep it up.

6:57 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

Ginnie, we have that in common. I shook hands with him in 1960, in Charleston, WV, on the campaign trail. He was a bit shorter than I....LOL

8:35 PM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Tales of the rich and famous and our encounters with them. I met Prince Philip once when I was competing in "Reach of the Top". I found the young women swarmed him and forced the guys to the back rows.

I know what you mean about Joe Kennedy. He seemed to have pro Nazi sympathies and was brought back from Britain.

3:31 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

I think that time was a good one for this country. I think that JFK would have done a lot of good had he lived. I am hopeful that the Dems will do well this time and perhaps we can have something close to what happened during "Camelot". I'm hoping at least.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Crayons said...

Hi Ginnie,
This is a wonderful evocation of a special time in America's history. I was four at the time of his assassination, so I don't remember the details. I am fortunate, however, to have grown up with parents who remembered Camelot. I only wish they were alive to see these elections!

11:36 AM  
Blogger Natasha said...

Thats so awesome, you are like Semi famous! I wish I got a chance to shake his hand...bummer

12:34 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What a great story. I was just old enough to remember Kennedy running for president. He wasn't too popluar in Texas and needed Johnson to carry the state as well as some of the other Bible Belt states. I was in the forth gradw in '63 and will always remember that time. It was so close to us.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Bud said...

great story Ginnie. Keep it up.

2:17 AM  
Blogger Chancy said...

Interesting first hand recollection. You have led a facinating life.

4:44 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

Ginnie--my first reaction in looking at the photo of young Jack was--oh so young, so handsome.
Yes, he flared briefly on our political horizon like a comet. Then gone.
You are right--our lives were changed forever.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Ginnie, you have led such a rich and interesting life!

When we were cleaning my mom's house to sell after her death, we found the front page of our local paper with the headline about JFK's assassination among her things. My mom was a Socialist and probably did not vote for him, but I would guess that most people were deeply affected by his death. How could they not be?

I've been away from your blog for a long time. It's good to be back.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay! I admit it! I'm soooo jealous that you got to shake JFK's hand NOT once, but twice! Oh, how I adored him and everything he stood for.
And you are so right....our lives changed forever in a heartbeat when he left us. But I have renewed hope with Obama. The first time in 40 years, that I feel our country CAN be turned around for the good.

2:43 PM  

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