Middletown residents recall John F. Kennedy’s campaign visit


MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) — With Election Day just a few short weeks away, residents fondly recall when then-Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy passed through Middletown while campaigning for president.

Kennedy spent a night in the southwest Ohio city on Oct. 17, 1960 as part of a campaign swing that included time in West Carrollton and Dayton, The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reported (http://bit.ly/2eh8VOd).

Middletown Superintendent Sam Ison has adorned his office with all-things Kennedy — including a replica of the rocking chair that he had in the White House’s Oval Office.

“He was an encouragement to me,” Ison said. “I came from a lower, middle-income family — neither of my parents went to college — so he was an aspiration to me.”

Ison’s most prized piece is a rare photo showing the candidate’s caravan traveling through a sea of supporters in downtown Middletown.

Among the crowd that day was 72-year-old Heathy Hidy, who recognized the “electricity” surrounding Kennedy even as a teenage admirer.

“I don’t remember if they let us out of school or if we just left to see him,” Hidy said. “But it was so exciting. He had just made a speech at the old Manchester Inn and we were next to the street when he was driven by.”

Hidy, who now resides in California, recalls that day was “high excitement.”

Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas had a profound impact on Ison, who became Middletown’s top school leader in 2013.

“It caused me to constantly think about my own life in terms of education and pursuit of my dreams . he was an encouragement and an aspiration,” Ison said.

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Information from: MIDDLETOWN: Hamilton-Middletown Journal News , http://www.journal-news.com