BOSTON—On this rainy day, neighbors and international visitors came to pay homage to the life of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy at the place of his birth. A memorial set in the front yard marks this simple home on tree-lined Beals Street, in Brookline, Mass. as the birthplace and childhood home of America’s most loved president.
“On this day, I wanted to remember not just his death, but his life,” said Brian Tucker, a resident of nearby Jamaica Plain.
Kimberly Shaw, a trumpet player, was drawn to visit the National Historic site on November 22, the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death. Shaw said she was stirred by the memory of the faltering sixth note of Taps when it was played by Army Sgt. Keith Clark at Kennedy’s funeral. “He was the Army’s first trumpet, he didn’t make mistakes. It was such an emotional moment,” she said.
A slow but steady stream of visitors came by the home today. An older gentleman whizzed up on a bicycle, set a bouquet of white roses on the marker in the yard, crossed himself, and quickly rode away.
Melina Lashout of Melbourne, Australia, came to tour the United States simply because she wanted to be here on Nov. 22nd. Lashout was born in 1986, yet the stories told to her by her parents of that day remain strong in her memory: Her parents were children living on the other side of the world, and they remembered being sent home from school when the news of the assassination was announced. “It was distressing for them,” Lashout said.
A Solemn Home
After their fourth Kennedy child, Kathleen, was born in 1920, the Kennedy family outgrew their home on Beals Street and moved several blocks away to a house on Naples Road. Ann Fink, a Brookline resident who has lived several houses down on Naples Road for 25 years, came to visit the birthplace on her way to Trader Joe’s.
“It’s sad to be here,” she said. Her eyes teared up as she remembered her fourth grade teacher’s reaction to the news and her father’s emotive silence as he covered the events of the day for the Herald Tribune.
The Kennedy family home is now a national historic site. The home was repurchased by the Kennedy family in 1966, and from 1966 to 1969, Mrs. Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy carefully restored it to way she remembered it when her children were young. The nine-room house is filled with family furnishings, photographs, and mementos personally collected and arranged by the president’s mother.
The John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site located at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Mass., which is normally closed for the winter months, will be open to the public for special events November 23 and 24.