When my boyfriend said, “You’ll never get near him,” it only heightened my determination. He was coming to Baltimore, on a campaign stop. Carefully, I chose my outfit for the event, including white gloves.

I was unable to vote, but this candidate sparked my interest in politics. His youth! His intelligence! His glamour! His wife! His family! His humor! He inspired in me a lifelong yearning for learning. After years of boring Ike and Mamie, this man brought youth and exuberance to the national arena.

During this exciting time, I began reading newspapers, not novels. I craved information about the election and the young candidate.

Then I began to compare the candidates, read both sides of an issue and form opinions based on facts. I watched all of the debates, televised for the first time in U.S. history.

On the night of the campaign stop, he arrived looking trim, handsome and tan, as advertised. I found a good parking space and a seat in the second row. A mere pit stop for him; a magical moment for me. The evening ended when I shook his outstretched hand, with my white glove removed.

I began passing out fliers, urged residents to vote, followed televised coverage, the convention speeches and the election. We watched the inauguration on that frigid January day, followed by the evening’s glamorous celebration.

Politics had always been dry and boring, but with John Fitzgerald Kennedy, they were suddenly deeply emotional. For the first time in my life, I felt trust and hope.

In today’s troubled political times, and the viral spiral of media and Internet, there is little rational discourse. The age of innocence is gone. The man who inspired me is gone. After his death, it was written that “We’ll never laugh again.” The rejoinder was, “No, we’ll never be young again.”

Carole Cochran

Boothbay Harbor