Random Thoughts

JFK and the Republican Mayor

Donald R. Norris

It was the day I met Jack Kennedy and his startling wife Jacqueline ...

I can't even remember what day it was, or even what year it was. It must have been either 1958 or '60, thereabouts. He was still Senator Kennedy and had not yet declared himself as a candidate for President of the United States. But it happened right here in Melrose, at City Hall.

At that time I was in my first or second year on the staff of the Melrose Free Press, with Dorothy Raymond as my boss and Frank Schueler Sr. as owner/publisher. I was a cub reporter, if you can call former Marine Corps officer by that lowly identity.

It was probably a Tuesday, since we had time to get that photo in that week's issue. Anyway, the phone rang about 9:30 that morning, and the Mayor's secretary asked to speak with Miss Raymond. A minute later she quietly announced that Senator Kennedy was due at the mayor's office, and I was to go get the picture. He was due momentarily, so hurry up..

I grabbed the big Crown Graphic and took off on foot, up Main Street, past Haslams, Percy's Army Navy, past Hill's and Grant's store, breaking into a run as I got to Ruderman's Furniture on the corner of Essex. I didn't stop running until I was in Mayor Lawrence Lloyd's office, bursting in unannounced and breathless.

There were the Senator and Mrs. Kennedy to the left, and Mayor Lloyd, the staunch Republican, ensconced behind his desk, standing, coolly welcoming the Democrat for re-election. There was only one other person in the room, some sort of functionary with the Kennedy's who seemed unable to get the opposing parties together, if only momentarily.

It was a strange situation. Why did the Democratic candidate for re-election to the U.S. Senate come campaigning in the (then) Republican city of Melrose? Certainly he couldn't have been looking for an endorsement.

It was the mayor himself who broke the awkward silence to introduce me to the Kennedys. Whereupon I gathered my wits and realized that these folks had been waiting -- for me. Having shaken hands with both of them, I offered that "I'd appreciate a photograph of you and Mrs. Kennedy with the Mayor, Senator. Perhaps together in front of the Mayor's desk?" He acknowledged that would be fine, and he and she moved to the left corner of Mayor Lloyd's big six-foot-wide desk. Simultaneously, without needing direction, Mayor Lloyd moved to the right front, which left some five or six feet between opposing parties.

I looked at the five empty feet of space -- deadly in newspaper production -- and suggested that "Would you folks move slightly to the center, please?", whereupon neither party moved an inch. That was it. Take a couple of shots with five feet of empty space. And that's exactly the way the photo was published, the Kennedys at the left, Mayor Lloyd five feet to the right. Sometimes you have accept the inevitable.

Some years later, I stopped by the mayor's office on some story or other. By this time, President Kennedy had been dead for a couple of years. I couldn't help but notice that a new, enlarged copy of my photograph had been oil-painted and framed in gold. The photographer who did the enlargement had doctored the original so that the three people -- Senator Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy and Mayor Lawrence Lloyd, were now standing shoulder to shoulder.


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