Writers on Kennedy

What we think about when we think about JFK

'Flesh and Blood'

Chronicle staffer Carolyn Phillips, then a student at the University of Houston, saw JFK the day before he went to Dallas.

"The day was clear and beautiful. One of those Texas days." ("One Fine Day," the Chiffons) She perched on the barrier of the new Gulf Freeway, near where the president's motorcade would pass. "It was the time before everything broke loose. Before Bob Dylan." ("Blowin' in the Wind," Peter, Paul & Mary)

Writers on Kennedy

There was a "nervous feeling, among younger people" about the state of politics blocking the gateway to adulthood. Politics was "old men, gray and white on TV, where everything looked like cement. J. Edgar Hoover ..." ("[You're the] Devil in Disguise," Elvis Presley)

"The motorcade passed slowly – about 20 miles per hour. Here they came: young, beautiful, smart, educated. Jack had very deep auburn hair – shiny, thick," riding in a white convertible. ("Just One Look," Doris Troy)

"Jackie had on a hat. They both waved. They looked like something off a wedding cake, so glamorous. They weren't gray. They're flesh and blood. JFK had vision, he had imagination, and the ability to communicate it to the next generation." ("I Will Follow Him," Little Peggy March) "Every­body was full of hope."

The next day came as utter shock.

"Everything came apart. RFK ... MLK ... It all blew up." ("The End of the World," Skeeter Davis)


Kate X Messer is a Chronicle senior editor; she was born during the Kennedy administration and shares a birthday with LBJ.

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