As we walked into the driveway it quickly became clear how accessible and normal this place was. It was simply a beautiful beachfront neighborhood with several houses in a bit of a cluster. This is where the Kennedys lived. This is their summer home. There are no big walls. There are no guards at the front to keep you out. People simply live here. The houses are all warm and typical of the area yet deeply rich in history. It was pointed out who had owned each house, a history lesson in its own right. What a thrill.
I was overwhelmed sitting in the sun porch where Jack and Jackie had lived. We were treated with a loop of home movies to remind us (as though it was needed) of the typical scenes we remember of this site. John F. Kennedy, the 35th President, clapped his hands twice as John-John came running to him. He appeared to transform into Jack or Dad as he swept his little toddler up into his arms and gave him a twirl. Behind him his brother, his Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy, whose children came running to him, suddenly Bobby. Behind him yet Sargent Shriver, Jack’s brother-in-law and the founder and first director of the Peace Corp. More children running in his direction. I had to pinch myself as I turned toward the yard to see the same great lawn where this had occurred some fifty years before, the flag flapping diligently in the wind on the flag pole in the circle that we all know so well.
While on our tour we were welcomed to go down to the beach over the dunes and steal some seashells (which we dutifully did) and enjoy the view. On our return from the beach, my partner in crime, Tom McCarthy, was trying to get a picture of himself at the old house (Joe & Rose’s original home). I was photographer and he, subject. He kept inching further and further onto the porch that I believe was supposed to be left unscathed. I started to break out into a stalker’s sweat. With this, a group of four rounded the corner and one of the gentlemen asked if I’d like to be in the picture (part of the evidence). Of course, I did. “Smile!” and we did. When the camera was lowered to assess the image, I realized that taking our picture was not another overwhelmed CT Dem but Mark Shriver. Yup, Mark Shriver. The next twenty minutes were a blur as we spoke of Save the Children and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and how all great roads lead back to Bridgeport, CT. When it was suggested we should be staying at the compound I thought I had died and gone to heaven. What a thrill!
Ted Jr. and daughter Kiley at Joe and Rose's original home.