A Startling JFK Story

I reached for the door of the football locker room.

In the spring of 1963 I reached for the door of the football locker room in the University of Washington’s “Hec” Edmondson Pavilion. A large crowd milled around the bleacher area outside our locker room because that year’s graduation ceremonies just finished. However, my schedule included a workout, at that time, to stay in shape for the 1963 Husky football season. So I made my way through the crowd and just before my hand touched the door handle, it swung toward me and gave me a jolt. John F. Kennedy walked out and we stood, face to face, trying to decide who would move first.

The sound of applause erupted from all those gathered at that end of the pavilion and I realized the President of the United States stood in front of me. “Ah,” my brain said, “Kennedy came to give the commencement address.” My first reaction: no, not to shake his hand, but to join the crowd and clap for him with my hands just a foot in front of his face. A loud and exuberant clap that startled the president and maybe unnerved the secret service. He smiled at me and I backed up to let him pass, out of my life, and ours, forever.


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