More Memories from UNH Alums

"It was my freshman year. As I recall, John Kennedy was scheduled to speak on Monday afternoon. I had a zoology lab in Nesmith Hall on Mondays from 3:30 until 5:30 p.m. A classmate -- I can't remember who-- and I decided that we would go to New Hampshire Hall after class to hear the speech. However, by the time we got there New Hampshire Hall was packed and they weren't allowing anyone else in. Just as we were about to leave, a car pulled in front of New Hampshire Hall at the door leading to the small reception room at the back, The driver opened his trunk, which was loaded with boxes of glasses, napkins, etc., and he began to carry them into the reception room. Thinking quickly, I asked if he could use some help. With a smile he replied, "Sure." So we each picked up a box and walked in unchallenged. We were able to watch the speech from the reception room doorway. I was too young to vote in that election, but I was in favor of Nixon until I heard that speech. That was the beginning of my fascination with John Kennedy, and upon graduation, so inspired, I joined the Peace Corps."

 

—Bill Graf '63
 
"Kennedy was scheduled to address a convocation at New Hampshire Hall, and was to have been introduced by UNH Provost Edward D. Eddy, later president of URI. I was then living at the Flats on Madbury Road, and I rode into town on my motorbike to hear him. Kennedy was being stalked by a candidate named Paul Fisher, an inventor and pen company executive, who tried to get on the stage with the scheduled speaker. Ted Eddy rebuked him: 'In New Hampshire we have a funny notion of free speech. We don't think it means two people speaking from the same lectern at the same time.' He was a very popular administrator, and he got a round of applause for this. But Kennedy graciously demurred, asking that Mr. Fisher be allowed to speak first."

 

"This he did, informing us that he had a plan for the country. 'If you were going to Boston,' he told us, 'you wouldn't just set out for Boston. You would first draw up a plan.' This got such a laugh from the students that Mr. Fisher cut short his speech, and JFK took the lectern. Unlike Mr. Fisher's speech, I remember none of JFK's, but I was awed by his graciousness and even more by his tan. This would have been late February or early March. Kennedy was bronzed from the sun, while we were all ghost-white from the long winter just past."
Blue skies!


—Dan Ford '54

 

"I saw then-candidate John Kennedy in 1960. There had been a debate at New Hampshire Hall, which I did not attend, but he then went to the MUB for another appearance, and I saw him in the parking lot. At that time the MUB faced Main Street. My classmate and fellow Gorham High School graduate, Otto G. Oleson, a Democrat, got his autograph on a campaign bumper sticker."


"In November of 1963 I was graduated and commissioned but still on campus when President Kennedy was killed. There was a memorial service in that same parking lot in which the ROTC detachments participated so I put on my uniform and marched with the Army ROTC cadets to the service. It was the only time in my career that I performed 'Slow March.'"


—Willard F. Hinkley '63

 

"I was in the MUB when I saw JFK start down the stairwell. I reached the top of the stairs and called out, 'Senator?'He stopped half way down at the landing, turned, and said, 'Yes?'

 

"I went down the stairs, he stuck out his hand, we shook and I said to him, 'I'd just like to wish you good luck.' He smiled and continued down the stairs. I think he was going to the WENH studios for a press interview. No bodyguards. No Secret Service. All alone. Just a guy running for president of the United States."


"I worked construction back then while going to school. I probably looked kinda' rough and as I walked away I thought that was the smoothest, softest hand I had ever shaken."

 

"A lot of days at Durham, but that was one I never forgot."

 

"I later voted for Jack, and I cried when he died."


—Brian H. Corliss UNH '62
 
"I went to NH Hall to hear JFK speak during his election campaign and pushed through the crowd that followed his car as he drove away afterward. He stuck his hand out and shook mine before the car pulled away. I don't know if anyone else also got to shake his hand at that time, but I'll always remember that special experience."


—Jane Gray Grover '61


"I saw John F. Kennedy at UNH at, I believe, a campaign tour stop. He chatted very briefly with a group of us after his talk. He seemed very personable. I remember what gathered a lot of comment on that day was a talk by a Paul C. Fisher who was also running for president. I understand he was a pen manufacturer from Chicago. I heard very little about him after the campaign."


—Forrest Knowles '61
 
"I wasn't able to attend the JFK speech and challenge by a Mr. Schaefer (I believe) as there was no more room. I was able to get his autograph (now lost) outside. What I most remember was his gracious accommodation of Mr. Schaefer. JFK also used my ball-point pen for my signature and I never saw the pen again.
As sophomore at the time, my Sawyer housemates and I were all very much attracted to the young, handsome, dynamic senator."


—Jeanne Sansbury Bell '62

 

"It must have been 1975 or 1976 when a man in a suit came into Huddleston Hall and he looked important. My friends and I called him over to our table and asked, 'Who are you?' The man replied, 'I am Jimmy Carter and I would l like to be your next president'. I said, 'It is nice to meet you and there are seconds on lemon pie tonight, would you like a piece?' He said he would like some so I sent a friend to get him coffee and I got the pie and we spoke for a few minutes over dessert. It was shortly after that he was elected president. Since he was from Georgia, and I was from Massachusetts, I had never heard of him, but little did I know that he would be our next president. It was my brush with history. It was great to be a student in those years as I also saw President Ford speak at the Field House while he was president and also saw Ronald Reagan. It was a wonderful time to be a student a UNH."


—Loretta Moore Parker '77

 

"I was an undergraduate at UNH in early 1960, and remember then Senator John F. Kennedy's visit to our campus. I believe he was seeking Democratic Party nomination for president and was introduced at some sort of a forum by UNH president (Eldon Johnson, a short and powerful, but very thin man). Before JFK got started with his opening address, there was an interruption from the audience by a Mr. Fischer (founder of Fischer Pen). Evidently, Mr. Fischer wanted to debate JFK live on stage. The president of UNH handled the interruption well, let Fischer speak a little, but not actually debate JFK. I think Mr. Fischer was also seeking his own nomination at the time."


—David N. Woods '60


"During the 1964 campaign, we went to see Margaret Chase Smith speak at the MUB when she was a candidate for president. As I recall, it was a Saturday night and there were so few students there that she spoke in one of the smaller rooms not the ballroom. She was charming. I rememberedthinking I was part of history!"


—Gail Stearns Bird '67


"Richard Nixon's 1968 UNH visit was at the Field House. As I walked into the lobby, I noticed a man pacing; we locked eyes, and I realized it was Mr. Nixon. Since I was somewhat startled, I was at a loss for words and kept moving along. This was regrettable not to have taken advantage of the opportunity to speak to an important political figure. ("Hello" would at least have been something!) It is a memorable moment, though, during that heated time of the late 1960s."


—Constance (Connie) Flanders Costello '70

 

"On the day JFK was going to make a stop at UNH, the campus was alive with spirit. He was such a handsome man that most girls were there to see him for that very reason. I'm not sure that at that time many of us were politically savvy. We were there just to see HIM. A huge crowd of students gathered in the street in front of NH Hall. I believe he was going to give a short talk inside around 3 p.m.. If I remember correctly it was Parents Weekend and all the housing facilities had plans to welcome the parents. At the time, I was president of Lord Hall, and refreshments were being made at Harvey's Bakery in Dover for our weekend welcome. I was to be at the bakery at 3:30 p.m. to pick up the order. JFK had not arrived, and there was no sight of him or any special caravan of vehicles. The crowd was getting larger and I told my roommate that she would have to tell me all about it when I returned. The shortest way back to Lord Hall was to cut through the parking lot along where the swimming pool is located. Everything was jammed packed so I weaved my way through parked cars and around a few people who were headed to the main street. I cut to my left and went between some cars and suddenly found myself facing JFK and his body guards. I stopped short, they did nothing and said nothing. I made a brilliant statement like 'Oh my gosh, everyone thinks you are coming up the main street and here you are.' He smiled, and then I said another brilliant thing like, 'you are soooo tanned and look just like I thought you would .' He said thank you very much and held out his hand and I shook it. I said, 'I would be staying, but I have to be in Dover in 15 minutes.' I never forgot how handsome and tanned he was. His teeth were so white. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to have shaken hands with President Ronald Reagan (in California) and President George Bush (in NH) and they have all been very handsome men. It was one of those great moments that just happened during my memorable college days at UNH.

 

—Jean Anne Twombly '62