When Halloween of 1964 rolled around,this 4th Grade kid was still greatly impacted by the events that had occured in November of the previous year.I imagine there were some youth of another generation impacted the same way when they saw the Challenger blow up right in their classrooms,and still others of a more recent generation,and more recently I'm certain there was a fourth grader out there still obsessed with what they saw on September 11,2001. Children are an impressionable lot.
In the time between November of 1963,and Halloween of 1964,this kid had become somewhat of a collector of all things Kennedy,and had even decided that his goal should be to run for President of the United States when he was eligible. This 9 year old was even consumed with the 1964 Presidential Election and was already learning what it was like to take an unpopular position,because he had declared to the dismay of his mom,(a staunch Johnson-Humphrey supporter and campaign worker) and the scorn of fellow classmates of his intentions to cast his vote in the school mock election for Senator Barry Goldwater,but that's another story for another time..
Given all this, when Halloween rolled around,it should not have been a big surprise to anyone that when most 4th graders were trying to find the scariest outfit for Halloween,or at least something to look like some TV character like My Favorite Martian,the moment he came across a John F. Kennedy mask,that JFK he was going to be.
It wasn't going to be too hard to be JFK on Halloween,all that was needed was the mask,and to wear the jacket and tie that was worn for church and sunday school every week.
He had no one to trick or treat with that Halloween. Luckily in 1964,everyone in the neighborhood knew everyone,and even if you went out alone,by the time you rang a person's doorbell,you were shortly going to be joined by other kids in the neighborhood. Now in this kid's mind there was more to portraying John F. Kennedy than dressing like him. One had to adopt a Bostonian accent or try as best as one could. It was also going to be important to be Presidential. This was also going to be practice for the time when the kid was actually going to be President of the United States.
When he reached his first door,he was joined by a group of about 5 other kids.
"Trick or Treat!" they all yelled . The adult at the door began hand out the candy.
"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country."
The words were spoken clearly,concisely,and while the Boston accent may not have been perfect,the hand gestures were recognizable to anyone who had even as much glanced at a TV during that era. The other kids began to laugh. Being laughed at was nothing new to this kid. He had been laughed at for everything from being ugly,to being a poor athlete,and this thought of becoming President seemed absurd to most. The kid was willing to take it however.To be President it seemed,one had to be unpopular to a certain extent.. after all JFK had to take a bullet to the head because he was President.
Nevertheless,this seemed like a disaster in the making till the adult passing out the candy began to applaud. The other kids split at this point,but in doing so they missed out on the extra pieces of candy given to him by this adult.
This unique approach to Halloween continued at every door with other excerpts of Kennedy speeches given at every new door.
"The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world." The Christmas the year before,the kid's most prized Christmas gift was an LP containing many of Kennedy's speeches. For a year,he had played that record over and over and over again,memorizing many of the passages as a result. After awhile other kids were choosing to knock on doors before or after the kid would reach it,but in almost every instance,the kid was receiving extra candy and becoming a favorite of every adult he would speak with.
"Ich Bin Ein Berliner" was probably the only Kennedy passage that wasn't working that night,but every child within eye shot of the kid had to notice that his Halloween bag was more full of candy then the rest.
Then it happened..the kid's bag broke. In what seemed like seconds,every child anywhere close to the kid rushed up and took every last piece of candy that had fallen to the ground. In an instant the kid's Camelot was no more,and Halloween never seemed the same