Posts Tagged ‘Glenn Doty’

How the News Arrived (2)

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

By Glenn Doty

I was a young sportswriter at The Times Herald Record in 1963. Politics, to which the late editor Al Romm introduced me a few years later, really didn’t mean a whole lot to me then.

Sure, I voted. That’s something several college classes suggested was important, and I voted for Dwight Eisenhower when I turned 21. The General – that’s how I thought of him – just seemed like the right person. After all, he was a pretty successful military man.

And then 1960 arrived and a Navy man, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a PT boat commander, wound up with the Democratic nomination, not that the party meant much to me, although my mom and her dad were both Democrats.

Funny, it really didn’t sink in that Kennedy was from a very rich and influential Massachusetts family. I do remember stories that his time as a U.S. senator was less than auspicious. But he was Catholic, and that’s how I was raised. If elected he’d be this country’s first Catholic president, and I think that meant more to me than his political party affiliation.

It also meant that my kids, if they decided on a political life (and none did), could aspire to the White House.

So, sports aside, I followed Kennedy’s march to Election Day 1960 and I couldn’t wait to vote for him. Wow! He won a tight race.

Funny, down through the years since, inaugural speeches haven’t been that important to me, although after Jimmy Carter I really wanted to hear what Ronald Reagan had to say.

But the Kennedy speech in 1961 was important. And he started the day the right way – with Robert Frost, who was my favorite poet, delivering a prophecy that everyone, I think, hoped would be true.

As for Kennedy’s inaugural speech, it probably ranks right up there, but it’s his forever-to-be-quoted conclusion that has stayed with me: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

I seem to remember a little moisture around the eyes then. And every time I hear or read those words, that moisture returns.

There were mistakes during his short term. The Cuba invasion fiasco was one, but he did get Russia’s missiles out of there.

But there was Jackie, and then they had Caroline and then John Jr. And despite some of his problems, including getting us deeper into the Vietnam war, he looked like he might well be the Democrats’ nominee for a second term, which is what led him to Texas in November of 1963.

The great never-to-be-answered JFK question: Would he have continued our Vietnam involvement?

I don’t remember much more about Nov. 22. It was one of those days when I went to the office early – probably there were basketball games scheduled for that night. But then, a little after noon, the United Press International wire machine bells sounded and I had to see what was up. The bulletin: The president’s been shot! My God, the anger I felt: Who in hell would do that? And then, a few minutes later: The president is dead.

Tears? There weren’t many of us in the newsroom that early in the afternoon, but there were tears – and disbelief. And anger. Who would do that?

It’s been 50 years. We’ve learned a lot about JFK, and not all has been good. But he was a hero to many of us and the memory of that afternoon? It still produces tears.


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Glenn Doty is a former managing editor of The Times Herald-Record and former editor of the Legislative Gazette.