Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Another anniversary...

 The date - November 22 - brings sad memories of President John F. Kennedy.

My actual vivid recollection was in downtown San Diego when Senator Kennedy came to California, campaigning for the highest office.

It was 1960 and I was a 21-year old former Marine Corps photographer who had just started as an older freshman at the University of San Diego.

Some buddies and I skipped classes and went downtown to see this young candidate.

Of course, I had a camera with me and stood at the back of the large crowd that had turned out in this basically Republican city.

A few months before, I was at Camp Lejeune, N.C. as a Corporal E-4, trying on my new civvies before my discharge and heading home to Charleston.

USD had offered me a photography scholarship and I jumped at the chance to be the first one in my family to attend college!

As a designated Marine Combat Photographer, I was not shy about moving up through the crowd to get closer to the candidate.

I've told this story before that I looked up at a policeman on the raised platform and held up my camera.

I told him I was the official photographer from the University of San Diego and wanted to be up there for better photos.

He had no problem with that and gave me a hand up.

I was now standing on the end of the platform with a great view of the crowd, the dignitaries, and the candidate himself.

Waited until he stretched out his left arm to make a point and turned his body and face in my direction.


As he finished his speech, Senator Kennedy was applauded and I hopped down to street level to photograph him coming down the steps, shaking hands. Got a few more photos as someone threw confetti.
As I said, I was a newcomer to San Diego, trying to adjust my military mind to civilian activities.

I recall I was wearing my USD windbreaker that day which no doubt helped the police officer decide I was not a threat.

Back on campus, I watched the candidate's debate and generally was in tune with supporting the Catholic candidate. 

I mean, it was an 11-year old Catholic University and I was an eligible voter. There was a separate College For Men and a College for Women with the beautiful Immaculata Chapel situated between the two.

The year after I graduated, the colleges combined and it was a true University, also with a School of Law, and a large seminary.

With my photography background, I started to visit the downtown newspaper, the Union-Tribune and made sure to stop in the Photo Lab to chat with the staffers there. And the boss.

About a year later, I was hired to be a lab tech and wire photo operator. 

After six months working inside the lab, I was sent out on assignments and became a staff photographer.

In 1963 I was part of a team dispersed around San Diego to cover the arrival of President Kennedy.

He was to receive an honorary degree from San Diego State and be the commencement speaker.

With Secret Service approval and our newspaper credentials, we photographers and reporters swarmed all over State's campus and along the route of the Presidential motorcade in and out of the city.

I had a plum assignment.

Here I was again, on the left side of JFK, using a long lens to capture the moment and the happy June graduation crowd.

The President flew to Dallas five months later.

As I said, I have posted my photos of the candidate and, later, the President on my blog before.

I'll probably share them again in the future.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Thanks for sharing these memories.

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