I was standing on the tarmac at Sky Harbor Airport right next to Sen. John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I was a kid news reporter and he had come to Phoenix for another stop on his prisidential campaign tour.
It was early JFK; the myths had not begun. Camelot was still just a Broadway musical.
But I vividly remember there was a star quality about him. He was remarkably tan for an East Coaster, with motion-picture leading man looks…and I was struck at how young he was.
He didn’t look like the presidents America was used to. Eisenhower was an old soldier. Harry Truman was a feisty old guy from Missouri. FDR was in a wheelchair.
But Jack Kennedy was a young father with a beautiful wife — hardly the type that had the years of wisdom and experience to deal with the gravity of the presidency. I remember his sense of humor as he tossed a barb at the then-ultra-conservative Arizona Republic.
And then he was dead. And it’s been said that’s when American optimism turned into cynicism.
But I still have my memory — my moment with JFK.
I’m Pat McMahon.