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November 22, 2013

Recalling JFK visit here

- — Now, 50 years after the president was assassinated, residents still recall those days, and how the valley was uplifted by his brief but memorable visit.

Here are few of the memories, sent in by Herald readers.

Kevin Cavanaugh, 74, of Hermitage:

“My father gave me a ticket to go up to the Shenango Inn to see him. Here I am, 21 years old, and a Republican, no less, and I’m seated up close.

“After he spoke and we all stood up and applauded, all these women, and I mean women, literally pushed me out of the way to try and get to him. Boy, they were screaming. He was looking at me kind of desperately, like ‘Hey, help me here’ when he saw all these women waiting to get to him.”

Tom Lasko, of East Lansing, Mich., formerly of Farrell:

“My dad was on a PT boat in World War II, same as Kennedy was on the PT 109. My father wanted to see Kennedy and shake his hand. And he got to do that.

“We have a photo of the motorcade coming up Idaho Street given to my family by Roy DeBrakeleer, a councilman, and the mayor at that time, John Giroski. You can just see all the excitement around the motorcade. I was in high school at the time and I watched that motorcade. My wife watched him in Sharon. It was unbelievably exciting for Kennedy to be campaigning in the valley.”

Donna Lasko, of East Lansing, Mich., formerly of Sharon:

“I was 13 and I walked to a rally to hear him speak. In the days leading up to his visit we were all wearing these white plastic Kennedy hats and Man of the ’60s badges.

“And when he came to speak, well, he was so just so good-looking, in person, I mean, wow, it was something. Someone handed him a donkey (the symbol of the Democrat party) and he said he would give it to his daughter, Caroline. And he made a joke that she had a lot of donkeys, but didn’t know what an elephant (the Republican symbol) was. And he planned to keep it that way.”

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