50 Years After the Death of John F. Kennedy | A Hometown Remembers
“Once he announced he was running for president, I practically spent 80 hours a week covering him. One time I was standing by the gate near the Compound, and this local police officer who’d been hired for the summer stops this guy and says, ‘Say, you can’t go in there.’ The man looks over at me and says, ‘Hey, boy’—and here I am, 40 years old, not exactly a kid—’tell him who I am.’ I said, ‘That’s Lyndon B. Johnson.’ The officer went, ‘Oh, uh, you can go in.’
“I went to every press conference. You’d show up and there’d be crowds of people at the fence who’d been there since 8:00 in the morning, just hoping to catch sight of the President or Jackie. When he flew in from Washington, the Times would have one photographer at his house and then send me to Otis Air Force Base to catch him as he landed. Then we’d convoy back to the Compound. We’d be going 80mph on these back roads—the FBI, the Secret Service, the press—nobody would stop you.
“Even as a Republican, I couldn’t help but like him. We became friendly. On occasion I’d be at the Compound for work, taking pictures on the father’s lawn as Jack and his brothers played football. Then the ball would come your way and the next thing you knew you were in the game. It was a fun era.”
“I’d taken pictures of Kennedy, and then when I’d meet a girl I liked, I’d give her a picture of the President.”
Interested in becoming a state trooper, maybe even a Secret Service agent, Olsen took a job as a summer police officer outside the Kennedy Compound in the summer of 1961. The retired bank president lives in Osterville.
“You had to have a special sticker to get into Hyannis Port, and our job was to make sure only those people with those stickers or people on our list of guests made it through. But people would make it past us and we’d have no idea how they did it.
“I remember one time when the President was staying at Squaw Island, and I was told there’s this artist who has this picture and wants to see the First Lady, and whatever you do don’t let him in. He made it by me, he made it by someone else, and made it all the way out to the island before they caught him. I have no idea how he made it.
“Another time, this guy drives up in a convertible. He looked kind of grubby, and he looks up and he says, ‘It’s me, Peter, just coming from Marilyn’s funeral.’ It was Peter Lawford.
“People were always driving up, wanting to know where the Kennedys lived, and a lot of times the Kennedy kids would just be milling about, sipping Cokes. They had no idea. ‘Where are the Kennedy kids?’ You’d be thinking to yourself, ‘There’s a handful of them just running around.’
“When the President would go by, I’d take pictures of him, and then when I’d meet a girl I liked, I’d give her a picture of the President. After he was killed, I found out I had only three or four pictures left. It’s awful. All those pictures I could have had!”
“The President is going to play a round of golf and you can caddy for him.”
Tellegen was a 14-year-old high-school freshman at the time of Kennedy’s election. A native of Hyannis and former manager of the Hyannis Port Club, Tellegen lives in his hometown.
“One afternoon I got a call from my dad. He was over at the Hyannis Club and said, ‘Get over here. The President is going to play a round of golf and you can caddy for him.’ We were members there, and they were looking for somebody to carry the President’s bag, and my dad, who stuck his nose into everything, said, ‘I’ll call my son. He can do it.’ I’d just gotten out of school, and I said something like, ‘Nah, I think I’m playing Wiffle ball today,’ or something. I’m sure my dad just rolled his eyes and thought to himself, ‘My no-good son.’