Meeting JFK at the "Western White House"
Meeting John F. Kennedy is one of my most special early memories, and although I was very young, I remember the events of that day vividly. It was Sunday, November 19th, 1961.
I remember knowing that it was going to be an important day as I was getting all dressed up. I recall getting out of the car in the motor court and riding up in the elevator, walking down a crowded hallway with lots of tall men in dark suits.
My mother, actress June Lockhart and my stepfather, architect John C. Lindsay, my sister and I were ushered into his Hilton suite. [I learned later that the President referred to the Beverly Hilton as his western White House.] We sat waiting, and I held a small wrapped candy, a gift I had brought for him.
An aide appeared and said The President would be right out, “he was just brushing his teeth.”
The room was very bright and sunny, I remember that the sofas had exposed legs (not skirted to the floor).
Everyone sat quietly.
Then the door opened and in walked President Kennedy! Everyone stood up to greet him. He was so radiant, handsome, smiling and full of charismatic energy.
He sat down opposite my parents and chatted with them about a building that my step father was about to break ground on in Santa Monica. (It was the first FHA project for senior housing in Santa Monica.)
Then the President looked at me still standing in the same spot “rooted” in place. He smiled and said “sit down.” I did! It was a Presidential directive!! He asked my sister and me about school and our interests. For that time that we were in the room with him, just us – we felt his genuine interest in us. It is indelible in my memory.
After about 15 minutes with President Kennedy, an aide came in (probably to keep him on schedule). He was going to church.
We all rose to say our goodbyes, and just before we left, I gave him my gift. It was a single wrapped butterscotch candy.