Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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November 21, 2013

A brief, but indelible encounter

Andover Townsman columnist Bill Dalton was in the crowd the late-summer day in 1958 that John F. Kennedy climbed the steps of Memorial Auditorium to campaign for reelection to his U.S. Senate seat.

Dalton said he remembers seeing a group of people, perhaps a hundred or so, maybe more, standing on the little hill in front of the auditorium next to The Park. He said they were listening to a speaker who was in front of the central doorway to the auditorium.

“I went closer to get a better view and recognized Sen. John F. Kennedy from seeing him on television. The crowd was thin enough that I was able to walk to the bottom of the steps to Sen. Kennedy’s right,” Dalton recalled.

“He was a deeply tanned, thin, handsome man, who had circles under his eyes as if he were tired, but he spoke with enthusiasm. He didn’t speak like people in Andover, because he had an accent that I didn’t recognize at my age of 15, although it was familiar from hearing him on radio and television.”

Dalton said he knew Kennedy was running for reelection to the Senate.

He had followed on the radio Kennedy’s 1956 attempt to beat Estes Kefauver for the Democrat nomination for vice president.

“I had somewhere to go and didn’t watch for more than a few minutes,” Dalton said. “I might have stayed longer if I’d known his future.”

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