50 Years After the Death of John F. Kennedy | A Hometown Remembers
Along with his nephews Richard and James Penn, Milton co-owns Puritan Cape Cod, an upscale clothing store in downtown Hyannis.“The Kennedys came into the store all the time. The kids, like Bobby’s children, would come down with a driver. The challenge would always be figuring who was who so you knew whom to charge it to. There wasn’t a lot of pretense about it.
“I think the local community just let them be, and they appreciated that. Jack, before he became president, came in, too. He looked good, even better in person than on television. And he had a smile and a personality—you could just feel the energy coming from him.
“We admired him. He was a good model for us. We never considered ourselves Camelot—that was all manufactured—but it did put Hyannis on the map. It was already growing, but the Kennedy influence gave us that extra zap.”
“I even got my father, who was a strict Republican, to vote for John Kennedy .” James Kelley
A 1965 graduate of Barnstable High School, Wiley now lives in Parker, Colorado.
“My family attended St. Francis Xavier Church, and you’d always see the Kennedys there. One day, maybe a year before he got elected, we were running late and we ended up not being able to sit together. I ended up sitting by myself. I’d just gotten there when this tall man sits down next to me. I remember him looking at me and saying something like, ‘Good morning, how are you?’ and then flashing me this nice smile. Afterwards, my father said, ‘Did you know that was John Kennedy?’ I was just 12 years old, but from that moment on I was madly in love with him.
“I even got my father, who was a strict Republican, to vote for him. After he got nominated at the Democratic Convention, they had a big motorcade for him that came right through downtown Hyannis. We walked down to see it, and as Kennedy came by in his convertible,
my father yelled out, ‘Thataway, Jack!’ And he said it with a little fist pump. And John Kennedy turned around and waved to us. My grandmother, who came from Quebec and didn’t speak any English, was just so excited. She was like me, she loved John Kennedy.”