Sunday, September 3, 2023

good morning justin


Honey Fitz, John Kennedy's grandfather, represented

this misshapen 11th Congressional District in Boston

back when the iceman delivered a block of ice to

your door to keep food cold.  The neighborhood was

poor, working class, Roman Catholic Irish and Italian.

Running for office here means you better be a

Democrat if you want to win.  The real contest 

was between the Irish and Italians.

Jim Curley was a loveable rogue.  Getting elected

wasn't a problem.  Staying out of trouble was.

Late in the '30's Depression Curley was convicted

of fraud and sent to prison.  Once he was released

the voters of the 11th District sent him to Congress

in 1942, when war raged in Europe and the Pacific.

He hated being a Congressman, a nobody far

from home.  Curley returned to Boston at war's end

and was promptly elected the city's mayor.

The man had a gift for sweet-talking the folks.

John Fitzgerald, champion backslapper.

He's a natural for politics.  Persuasive.

Honey Fitz.  Back in 1913 he was going

to be mayor of Boston.  That's when the

bad blood started.  It was loveable Jim Curley

that let the press in on this thing Honey Fitz

was having with a cigarette girl named Toodles.

Turns out he wasn't going to be mayor

of Boston, after all.

John Kennedy's wildly wealthy father, Joe.

His winnings came from shrewd Wall Street

investing but upper crust Brahmin Boston

excluded Irish blokes from their festivities.

Rumor had it Kennedy made his money from

bootlegging.  Joe Kennedy's own political

ambitions were headed nowhere.

But he had big plans for his son, Joe Jr.

The man would be president one day.

Except his cherished oldest son was

blown apart during a high risk bombing

run over Nazi occupied France in WW2.

That left Jack.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy - JFK.

Lieutenant Kennedy, Jack, commanded his 

torpedo-armed patrol boat in the enemy infested

Solomon Islands - where Guadalcanal was nestled.

From the ink of night a Japanese destroyer appeared,

and quickly sliced Kennedy's PT boat in half.  Two of 

the crew were killed instantly.  Kennedy led the

survivors on a three and a half mile swim to an

uninhabited island.  One man, too injured to swim,

was towed the entire way, bound in a strap that

was tightly gripped between Kennedy's teeth. 

This action made the pages of Reader's Digest

with an article by John Hersey that would play

a role in Kennedy's first effort in democratic 


It's a commitment, running for office.

Have you the conviction to stand out front

and say what you mean - take it to the people.

Have the voters decide.  For keeps.

Even if they wind up going against

your wishes and vote you down, 

you wouldn't change your message.

You say what you mean.

That doesn't change.

Can a wealthy Harvard graduate win the trust of the

working class poor?  John Kennedy had his doubts.

He was reserved, shy actually - not your

backslapping, baby kissing sort of Dad's kind of

Democrat.  Kennedy gave people a cool form

of likeable.  He enthused them with ideas.

They understood his meaning and more often

than not they were sold.  On the man.

Maybe you should run for something smaller.

You'd be a shoe-in for lieutenant-governor.

Joe Kennedy looked at Jack and concluded his

second son was too frail to run for Congress in 1946.

At times he had a yellow hue from persistent bouts

with malaria.  His back injury sustained that

night in the Solomons often required him to

wear a brace.  John Kennedy was so skinny

someone remarked he looked like a kid

wearing his father's suit.

 Nonetheless, Kennedy won.

He attracted the best of people to him.

In his mind he wouldn't be long for any one

position until he made it to the White House.

Right now it felt like he was on his way.



©  Tom Taylor