Connections to the Kennedys

This Friday, November 22, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Today, we recall our connections to the Kennedy family.

  1. We’ll start with a fact that is often misrepresented – our Kennedy School was not named for any of the Massachusetts Kennedys. Founded in 1915, it predated their political runs by several decades. The school-turned-hotel in Northeast Portland was named for John Daniel Kennedy, the Irish immigrant who settled the land and developed the neighborhood. He was instrumental in the founding of the school and St. Charles Catholic Church, correctly believing that these institutions would bring more families to the fledgling neighborhood.
  2. However, in the Richard Dreyfus movie Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995), which was filmed in part at Portland’s Grant High School, the location was renamed Kennedy School, which has furthered the JFK/Kennedy School confusion.
  3. Maurine Kennedy and John Kennedy, 1960s

  4. Maurine Brown Neuberger (left) was born and raised in Wilsonville, Oregon. She married Richard Neuberger, who became a U.S. Senator from Oregon. When Richard died while in office, Maurine finished out his term and then was re-elected, serving for much of the 1960s, during which time she came to know and work with JFK. She was the fourth woman elected to the U.S. Senate, and to date, she is the only woman elected to the Senate from Oregon. You can learn more about Maurine Neuberger in some wonderful artwork at the Wilsonville Pub.
  5. Both John and Bobby Kennedy participated in the 1957 Senate Investigation hearings that looked into the Teamsters Union involvement in vice crime in Portland, in which Nate Zusman of the Desert Room (located at what is today’s Crystal Hotel and who inspired the name of our Zeus Café) testified on record. Bobby Kennedy was chief counsel for the committee, a role that launched his political career (he later became Attorney General in his brother’s administration). The snappy repartee between Zusman and RFK exasperated the prosecution and delighted the nation. These are just two examples of the back-and-forth banter on federal record:
    Mr. Zusman: I haven’t been arrested for gambling or anything like that.
    Mr. Kennedy: You admitted yesterday that you were operating a gambling room.
    Mr. Zusman: I didn’t say that. I said we were playing gin rummy.
    Mr. Kennedy:  You said it was against the law.
    Mr. Zusman: It is O.K. until I get caught. If I get caught, I have to pay for it. So I quit.
    Mr. Kennedy:  What was he sent to prison for?
    Mr. Zusman: Vice, as far as I know.
    Mr. Kennedy:  For being a pimp, was he?
    Mr. Zusman: Well, you can call him a pimp, if he could be a pimp.
    Mr. Kennedy: Did you put up the money for his bail?
    Mr. Zusman: Now, I will explain that to you.
    Mr. Kennedy:  I just think this is a splendid opportunity for you—
    Mr. Zusman: I want to let it all out. It is a pleasure to get it off my chest, believe me it is. […] Mr. Kennedy, you don’t know me, but I am known as the Mark on Stark.
    Mr. Kennedy:  A who?
    Mr. Zusman: A mark. A sucker. Because I will help anybody out. That is my trouble. That is why I am here now, for trying to be decent, for trying to do what is right.
  6. Roberty F. Kennedy on Life Magazine cover, June 1968This LIFE magazine photo of RFK was taken as he ran on the beach in Gearhart, Oregon, in 1968. RFK had made stops in Portland and Astoria but took some time to relax on the beach at Gearhart for a sanity break, even though they were way behind schedule.
    Sadly, Bill Eppridge, the photographer who took this image, also recorded the iconic photo of RFK just days later in Los Angeles, as he lay dying on the kitchen floor of the Ambassador Hotel moments after being shot, his head cradled by a shocked busboy.


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