50 Years After the Death of John F. Kennedy | A Hometown Remembers
“When I got home, my mother, who’d been watching this thing on television, said, ‘Did you scream out, “Peter Lawford!”? You must have been on one of those speakers, because I heard you.’ I said, ‘Yeah, it was me.’ I’ve always had a pretty big mouth.”
“The President was pretty good, but Bobby could throw a nice football.”
David Crawford grew up in Barnstable and was a young office worker with John Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign. Now a branch manager for an investment firm in Hyannis, Crawford lives in Centerville.
“On Election Day we were standing around on the President’s lawn, and we just started tossing a football around. Teddy, Bobby, and Jack showed up. They were always playing touch football anyway. It was a regular weekend activity. And they all liked to play quarterback. You aren’t any good, I’m gonna play quarterback now—that kind of thing. The President was pretty good, but Bobby could throw a nice football. We were just playing pitch and catch. It wasn’t long, maybe 20 minutes. Things were happening, and I think they were trying to break some of the tension. It was just kind of quiet; nobody really said anything.
“The President had this little trolley car that he’d drive around in with the kids. It would be this big contingent of kids that was immediately followed by a contingent of Secret Service agents on a golf cart. They’d go to the little news shop in town for some candy, ice cream, some newspapers. It also had its share of Kennedy souvenirs. The President would look at them a little, then just keep going.
“There were crowds wherever he went. He’d fly into Otis [Air Force Base, near Mashpee] and then helicopter in and land on his father’s front lawn. You couldn’t miss the whish of the helicopter. Everyone knew he was coming in. People would be out on the water waiting to see him land, and they’d be lining the beaches. Or they’d be upstairs with their windows open, just watching. Even the Republicans who lived near the Compound would watch him land. They might say they didn’t like Democrats, but they’d be looking out their windows, too, like everybody else.”
“When he got elected I had something to crow about. And I did.”
A former state senator and retired president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Aylmer lives in Centerville.
“My dad owned a taxi company in Hyannis, and all of us kids, my sisters, my brother, myself, had to help out with the driving. I was only 16 at the time—you were supposed to be 21 to have a taxi license—but my father knew the police chief in town and was able to work something out. Dad had a contract with the Kennedy family, and most Friday nights I’d go and pick up John Kennedy; he was a senator then, at Barnstable Municipal Airport. Then I’d drive him back on Sundays. He got to know who I was, was interested in what I was going to do after high school, where I was going to go. And we talked about sports. But never politics. I think he was liberated from the Washington drudgery, and didn’t want to get into it much.
“During the election I shipped out [with] the Merchant Marines. The guys on the boat knew he was my candidate, and they’d always ask, ‘How’s he doing?’ When he got elected, I had something to crow about. And I did.”
“We’d be going 80mph on these back roads—the FBI, the Secret Service, the press—nobody would stop you.”
Beginning in 1955, Caldwell worked as a photographer for the Cape Cod Times for 39 years. He lives in Hyannis.