This column was written by Betty Dean Holmes of Swampscott
Donna Carmody took a group of Swampscott seniors on a museum trip. The weatherman described the day as bitterly cold, but it was good going underfoot and that is more important for seniors. We New Englanders have plenty of cold weather clothes. The group was off to Boston. We had lunch at the Chart House. Built in the 1760’s, it is the oldest building on Long Wharf, and was known as John Hancock’s Counting House.
My lunch choice was a fish and chips plate. Oh, my! Good fresh fish, and not only potato chips, but sweet potato chips and banana chips, too. After our delicious lunch we were off to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum at Columbia Point, Boston.
We watched the introductory movie first and then explored the museum.
This was a nostalgia trip for our group, for it is presidential history we all experienced. I clearly remember how frightened I was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. At that time I was at home with a 10-month-old baby, my other two children were at two different schools, and my husband was at GE. My concern was how I could possibly get my family together if the crisis escalated. The crisis was resolved, but not before we came mighty close to a devastating conflict.
As we toured the exhibits, I was struck with a flashback by the store window displays. One 1960s store window had radios, televisions, and record players, very much like the ones my dad and mother sold the Kennedy family for their Hyannisport houses. I remember the Kennedy kids coming in the store to buy records in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.
The last time I saw Jack Kennedy, he’d come into my parents’ Radio and Record store in Hyannis to buy the latest records. He was wearing cut-off dungarees, a gray sweatshirt with the sleeves cut out, and he had beach sand up to his knees. He certainly looked like a barefoot Cape Cod vacationer. He was a senator at that time.
In the museum I loved seeing the simple styles and elegant fabrics of Jackie Kennedy’s clothing. She did have a lovely artistic fashion sense. Certainly, in those years a lot of women imitated her style, and wore clothing and hats similar to hers.
At home in Swampscott, on Nov. 9, 1960, I watched Jack’s victory speech on TV. He was speaking from the Hyannis Armory, 225 South Street. My dad helped with some of the set-up work for the historic television broadcast and the armory was in my hometown of Hyannis, but other than Jack, the only familiar person I saw on the TV was my dad. After Jack’s speech, I watched my father, Louis Dean, amongst all the microphones, shaking Jack Kennedy’s hand and congratulating him on his election. My Dad was pleased I had seen him on TV.
When I looked at the speech online today, the film ended before my Dad walked across the stage.