JFK was important to the people of Buffalo, maybe even more so than the rest of the country. In 1962, 400,000 people came to see him here. Four-hundred thousand. Even if that is exaggerated by double, when is the last time 200,000 Buffalonians were measured doing anything together at the same time– aside from sitting on our collective well-padded ass watching sports on TV?
The truth is, I’m on Kennedy overload right now, but I know I have no right to complain about it. For the people who remember, 50 years later, it remains one of the saddest days of their lives, a sadness shared with an entire grieving nation. For most, it felt as if a member of the family had been shot and killed. Not anger, just sadness and grief.
As a little kid in the late 70s/early 80s, the Kennedy assassination seemed to me like the biggest thing that had ever happened in American History.
Everyone knew where they were when it happened. Msgr. Toomey came into my mom’s classroom at St. Teresa’s on Seneca Street.
But it wasn’t just the assassination, it’s who Kennedy was, and what he represented to the people in my family. My dad’s whole school– St. Stephen’s on Elk Street– got to leave class when President Kennedy’s limo came the wrong way down the 190 and got off at Smith Street… Then got right back on again. Kennedy got off the Thruway… so people could see his car and wave. There may have been some other technical reason, but technicality be damned for my 10 year old dad.
But somewhat forgotten, was his swing through Western New York as Senator Kennedy, running for President in 1960, only a week after the famous televised debate against Richard Nixon.
These are some photos from when the dynamic young Massachusetts Senator spent the day our backyard, from the archives of Buffalo Stories LLC and staffannouncer.com, as seen in the pages of the Courier-Express in 1960.
Buffalo Mayor Frank Sedita with JFK at the Aud.
JFK with Niagara Falls Mayor Keller
JFK motorcade on Pine Avenue in the Falls
JFK speaks outside North Tonawanda City Hall
An impromptu JFK speech in Wheatfield
All images from the Buffalo Courier-Express and the BuffaloStories.com/Staffannouncer.com archives
Buffalo Journalist and Historian Steve Cichon brings us along as he explores the nooks and crannies of Buffalo’s past present and future, which can mean just about anything– twice a week on Trending Buffalo.
As he collects WNY’s pop culture history, Steve looks for Buffalo’s good stories and creative ways to tell them as the President and founder of Buffalo Stories LLC. He’d love to help your business tell its story. For a decade, he’s also collected and shared Buffalo’s pop culture history at staffannouncer.com.
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