2013-11-28 / Opinion

Kennedy Meeting Inspiration for Lifetime

To the Editor:

Oh, what happy college roommates we were, Loni Randall and I— she, the street-smart life of the party with the lilting laugh and funny German boyfriend named Gunner, and I, the naive bookish dreamer.

Early one morning as I studied in bed, Loni leapt off her bed. “Pat, guess what?" She went quickly to our shared closet. “Today’s the day I was telling you about. Senator John F. Kennedy is coming to the campus to campaign. He’ll be at Main Hall at ten o’clock. Come with me.” She searched the closet for something to wear.

“I can’t Loni. I’ve got to study.”

“Come on, Patsy-Grad; take a break for one morning, that’s all. What are you studying for? Can’t it wait until tomorrow?” Loni called me Patsy-Grad whenever she wanted to tease me about being an egghead.

I answered with my head still in the book, “Political Science 501— we have a test. Who is John F. Kennedy?” From my protected cocoon of college campuses I knew little of the outside world.

“Pat! He’s a handsome United States Senator from Massachusetts. He commanded a PT boat in the Navy. Here’s a Poli Sci lesson falling right into your lap. You might never have another chance to meet a Senator.”

A handsome Navy man intrigued me, as I recalled high school civics and my admiration of PT boats. I closed the book. “All right, Loni, but no bars after, OK?”

“Deal—no bars for lunch.”

We hurried to campus where there was a line weaving up the hill.

As we moved along I got a glimpse of a mighty handsome figure, tan and strong-looking, although a little thin. He smiled a great big toothy smile and had a twinkle in his eyes as he looked at each person with interest and shook each hand. Even from my distant perspective it was clear the conversations were lively and full of mirth.

I made it to the front of the line. Senator Kennedy looked up and I announced my name. “Pat Healey from Mamaroneck, N.Y., Senator Kennedy. ”

He kept my hand in his as he called to another man, who was strikingly similar in appearance. “Hey, Bobby, we have support in Mamaroneck, New York.”

The man called Bobby laughed, “Forget it, Jack, all of Westchester County votes Republican.”

We all laughed then, as I answered, bravely, “Everyone minus one.”

Senator Kennedy smiled. “Please vote for us. We need votes there.”

I was hooked. I had one zillion arguments with my staunch Republican father and never gave in. An adult by government standards, I could vote as I pleased. My enchanted proxy vote flew to New York.

My father moaned, “He’ll bring back the New Deal,” when I triumphantly telephoned him election night, feeling as though I, and I alone, was responsible for JFK’s election.

I’m the same today, with fiery opinions and continual political volunteerism, inspired for a lifetime, as many of us were, fortunate and proud to have met him. Patricia Healey


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