A Springfield Woman Recalls A Day with JFK
In October of 1960, John F. Kennedy visited Wittenberg University on a presidential campaign stop while he and Richard Nixon were locked in a tight battle for the White House and Ohio was hotly contested, much like it is today.
Juanita Dennison, a longtime Springfield resident recalls that day:
"I was married, and we had four young daughters and my husband was running for county commissioner in 1960. So he was there too. A friend of mine, my best friend from childhood, Mary Lou Dillon and her mom Norah Smith worked down at the Board of Elections so she had just called a few days earlier and said they were getting a group of women together called the Kennedy Girls even though we were all new mothers in our early thirties. 'Would you like to come? You have to get a purple dress and so forth.' Oh yeah. I’ll do that. Anything to be down there."
Dennison continued, "We were rather poverty stricken at the time. My husband was running for office and with four young kids and a new house, so I thought, 'oh gee I hate to charge that dress but I’m going to.' And we had the white bowler hats and white gloves."
"We were all in the stadium waiting together, standing. It was a beautiful day and here came the motorcade. They drove in and here he was in this convertible. With the beautiful gorgeous tan. He had been in Florida with all that Blond hair bleached in front and everyone just amazed at him, and the charisma! He was smiling and waving. Finally, the convertible stopped right where i was standing. And i was the first one standing there when the convertible door opened and I was just looking up amazed. Finally I had the presence of mind to reach out my hand with the white glove and shake his hand. And I had those white gloves for years. I kept them in a drawer in plastic. It was the glove that touched the hand of Jack Kennedy.
Dennison smiles at the memory, "And that was my moment of fame."
JuanitaDennison says Kennedy’s visit that day in 1960 influenced her life long commitment to be active in local politics. It’s a tradition she continues to this day by volunteering for causes and campaigns she believes in.
John F. Kennedy speech courtesy of Clark County Historical Society at the Heritage Center. Special thanks to Michael Casselli.