Above is a cropped version of a Bergen Mall postcard from the 60's.
I write about JFK here because this past November 8, 2010 marked 50 years since JFK was elected president! Wow - things like this always help to remind you how old you are!
Our early Glen years were clearly marked by the JFK administration - kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade and part of 3rd grade. The thought back then was that as a country the possibilities were limitless and that the future held incredible potential for us as a nation. For us kids at that time, the space program was easily how we saw JFK's challenge to always reach for greatness.
On November 22, 1963 - the day JFK died - I recall coming home from school with friends and talking about what we thought we just heard.
For me - when I got home - my mom basically gave me a snack and pushed me out the door where I hooked up with the usual friends, the Meneghins, Pomeroys and Jim O'Brien - we played football as we always did til it got dark. Cindy Pomeroy probably sat on the curb and watched as she did so often - Cindy even at that young age was my Winnie Cooper - we had promised each other that we would get married one day! My mom tried desperately (almost to a fault) to protect me from such painful things as the death of JFK depsite my already knowing about it and despite the fact that I had so many questions about it. Of course from friday through monday you couldn't avoid the coverage about JFK.
The following year me, Cindy Pomeroy, Maryanne Pomeroy, Melanie Teasley and Bruce Meneghin (and Mark, Kent and Brian too!) ran a fair for the neighborhood kids to raise money for the JFK Library. We had all sorts of games, baked goods and toys for sale - we had a lot of business but raised $5.35 - it was a lot of nickels and pennies!
Below I am reprinting the speech Kennedy made at the Bergen Mall on September 15, 1960. It is supplied by the JFK library in Boston.
This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two texts of the speech, a reading copy and a press release of excerpts, exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library. This transcription is based on the reading copy. The parenthetical notes at the end of the speech are as they appear in the original reading copy.
The above photo is NOT JFK giving his speech at the Bergen Mall but during the campaign at one of many similar locations around the country.
His Bergen Mall remarks are below:
"Governor Meyner, David Amster, Thorn Lord, and candidates for Congress James Dobbins and Vincent T. McKenna: I've been complaining in California and Texas. People settle there because they were not satisfied with things as they were. You came to Bergen County because you wanted to build a better life for your children. Americans are never satisfied with things as they are. They never settle for second-best.
People in California and Texas are worried about their farms. You are worried about your homes, your children, your schools, medical care for your aged parents, and the growing pains of an exploding population.
What unites us all, in every section of the country, Democrats and Republicans alike, is concern over our nation's position in the world. I am not talking about world politics. I am talking about peace - our future - and our children's future.
Everywhere I go in this campaign I find people asking: What's the matter with America? Why are we slipping? Why are we losing friends around the world? Why are we losing the lead to Russia? Why aren't we meeting the communist challenge - from Cuba to the Congo, from India to Indonesia?
Four years ago the cold war was being carried on thousands of miles away. This year it spread to within 90 miles of Florida, to Cuba. And next week when Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Castro arrive in New York they will bring the cold war to within 12 miles of the Bergen Mall.
And yet the administration has told us that all is well.
In the 1930's while England slept, Hitler armed.
Today while we stand still, Khrushchev moves.
We must learn to face the truth about our situation. You can't stand still in the eye of a hurricane. And hurricane winds of change are sweeping the world.
It is tempting to try to hide in the storm shelter - or the bomb shelter - tempting to try to escape the winds of change. But it cannot be done. We have to act - and to act along new lines. Francis Bacon tells us, "He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils, for time is the greatest innovator."
How can we reverse direction? How can we move ahead?
First, we must set our own house in order. A nation that intends to lead the world must live a creative national life at home. We must re-establish and extend the rights of man - the right of workingmen and businessmen to earn a decent living; the right of children to a decent education in the American tradition; the right of older people to an old age free of the cost of chronic ill health; the right of immigrants to enter our land; the right of all of us to think as we please, say what we please, worship as we please, and go where we please, whether to schools or jobs or lunch counters.
Second, we must stop deluding ourselves about our situation abroad. The collapse of the summit, the fiasco in Japan, the hostile mobs around the world - these are not diplomatic triumphs for America, they are diplomatic disasters, and we may as well face the unpleasant unpopular truth. For as Demosthenes said, "If you analyze it correctly, you will conclude that our critical situation is chiefly due to men who try to please the citizens rather than to tell them what they need to hear." I think the American people want to hear the truth.
Third, we must rebuild our defenses on land and sea, in air and space. The Russians understand strength. It is not a question of quarreling with Mr. Khrushchev. It is a question of making ourselves stronger than Russia. Talk is cheap.
Fourth, we must help the rising peoples in the underdeveloped regions of the world to find their way to free self government. We must range ourselves on the side of freedom, not the side of dictatorship. And we must remind the rising peoples - and remind ourselves - that it is not Karl Marx's manifesto but the American Declaration of Independence which said, "We hold these truths to be self evident - that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men."
Fifth, on a broad front ranging round the world we must seize the initiative in the cold war with bold imaginative programs launched with good will and launched from strength. We need to launch missiles, yes; but we also need to launch programs for freedom and justice and peace.
When Woodrow Wilson was pleading the cause of the League of Nations in 1920, he said, "My clients are the children; my clients are the next generation."
It is for our children, for peace in our children's world, that I plead in this campaign.
It is up to us to win it.
The New Frontier is not what I offer you. It is what sacrifices I ask you to make for your country."
My classmates and I started school in September 1960 - we were known as the space age kids. As kids there was nothing we thought this country couldn't do. We were leaders in everything - education, business, space, technology, building - we were living the American dream - JFK saw this and wanted us - wanted the nation kids to strive for more - to be better, to be stronger, to be leaders in a world full of fears - I do remember those first few school years as ones that were exciting and fun - we believed that anything was possible.
Kennedy's gravesite at Arlington Cemetery in winter.