Here’s a minor correction to last week’s column about John F. Kennedy’s visit to Woodrum Field in 1960. It noted that a crowd trapped Kennedy in a phone booth, after his speech, when he went to make a call.
But Kennedy wasn’t making a call from that booth, says Barbara Garner of Roanoke. He was taking one, perhaps from Bobby Kennedy. Garner, now 85, was there. And the story of how and why is a pretty good one.
Garner was 32 at the time, the mother of two daughters by her first husband. She had married her second husband Bill Garner earlier that year. By the way his middle name was Clinton and we’ll have more about that later.
That Friday, Garner and her girlfriend Maxine Repasky went to see the future president. When they showed up at Woodrum Field, hardly anybody was there. So they went inside the old terminal to get a cup of coffee.
In the meantime, a throng — variously estimated at 10,000 to 20,000 — had descended upon the tarmac. By the time Garner and Repasky exited the terminal, some kind of gate had been set up for dignitaries. “We were quite surprised when they wouldn’t let us through,” she said.
“It looked like we were going to have to stand in a crowd that was at least 7 deep,” she recalled.
Right about then a truck pulled up, with two men in it. It was full of bundles of The Cavalier, the University of Virginia newspaper. That issue endorsed JFK for president in the election four days hence.
The driver instructed his passenger to pass out copies in the crowd. It looked like an impossible task for one person to accomplish, given the number of people. Garner and Repasky volunteered to help — that got them through the gate for dignitaries, their arms loaded with newspaper bundles.
READ THE REST OF THE COLUMN HERE.