by Dave Farmer I was a senior in high school in Joliet, Ill. when I first heard JFK had been shot. Entering my next class, I saw my classmates standing silently near a radio as the announcement was made that JFK was dead! Several female classmates began sobbing as I fought back tears myself, probably because I had spent 20-30 minutes eating and speaking with JFK during his campaign.
JFK appeared in a huge campaign parade, sponsored by the Steelworker’s AFL- CIO Local 1445 in Joliet. The surging, screaming, crowd was so huge that the path to the podium was clogged with people. He literally walked across automobile roofs to reach the stage where he delivered an inspiring speech. After his speech, he went to the Steelworker’s Hall where I was sitting in my Dad’s office, eating a beef sandwich with my Dad, who was the president of the 3,000+ member union. There was a knock at the closed door and one of my Dad’s assistants opened the door and in walked JFK! My Dad stood, shook his hand, and asked if he’d like a sandwich and beer. He said he was starving as someone handed him a beer. He looked around the room and seeing an empty seat next to me, asked if he could sit down. “Sure.” I said. Someone gave him a sandwich and while eating, he saw my arm in a cast and asked what happened. When I told him it was broken during football practice, he told me about his various injuries, but he still tried playing in his family’s touch football games occasionally.
We probably talked 20-30 minutes as he ate and relaxed. He asked about school, football, and if I wanted to go to college. Telling him I wanted to continue playing football, go to college, and be a lawyer. he said “It’s good you’ve got goals – everyone needs goals!” That’s stuck in my memory forever. With his charisma and friendliness, he was inspirational, not only to me, but the entire nation as led us, always speaking about the “New Frontier.” In retrospect, he clearly was not trying to get my vote! He was merely being friendly as he relaxed from the campaign and showed genuine interest in another human being. Also of Interest
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