I’m reading True Compass by Edward (Ted) Kennedy. It’s like a time machine to my life. Those Kennedy boys (and girls) were a bit older than me and a lot richer, but we lived through the same events and changes.
Jack was actually a participant in World War II, but Teddy was too young. I missed World War II completely except that all my cousins were in the military and I remember how imposing and important they all looked in their uniforms. But that was at least 10 years after the war. Dwight David Eisenhower (Ike) was my first president, his election slogan, “I Like Ike”,” perfectly designed to appeal to a child. He had a presidency that was sweet with success and the optimism of the 50’s. He was a war hero. He had little or no controversy to deal with. Everyone was so happy the war was over. They just wanted to sing and dance and drink beers and buy homes and raise families. They wanted life and comfort after years of blackouts.
Jack and Jackie were American royalty. I really did experience this presidency as Camelot, although the national dialogue was heating up. Communism was as close as Cuba and the South was in upheaval as our African-American citizens insisted that their rights be respected once and for all and Caucasian-Americans had to be persuaded to agree. Although this sounds so civilized, we all know it was not.
I do remember where I was when Jack Kennedy died. I was in front of a jewelry store in the town where my college was located. I was a Freshman. The jeweler broadcast his radio outside his store. We all listened in shock, walked back to school in tears, and sat for several days in the student lounge in front of the TV watching the shooting over and over, the swearing in of LBJ, and the funeral with John-John standing with his sister Caroline and with Jackie saluting his Dad as the funeral procession went by. America was in grief and in shock. It was the end of our rosy days.