Hyannis of the Kennedys
I have always been a fan of John F. Kennedy and his family, ever since he was sworn into office in 1961. I sort of hero-worshipped the guy when, as a grade school pupil, I learned from one of my subjects which tackled Current Events, that he was the youngest to become President of the United States. And, of course, two years later, I also mourned with the rest of the world, when he became the youngest to die in office.
When he was still President, I would read in magazines passed on to me by my US-based cousins that he and his family would spend their weekends, or whatever free time they had, in “Hyannis” and in “Cape Cod.” The pictures in those magazines sort of gave me a clue of what the family saw in those places, but growing up as a curious child, I wanted to experience such lure myself.
So, when I, finally, had a stable career and had the funds to travel the world on my own, I would always design my trans-Pacific trips to include a visit to these favorite haunts of the Kennedys. But last-minute business obligations always took me away from that direction.
Not too long ago, I was in the US East Coast to visit my siblings and realized that I had a couple of free days to spare. I decided to, finally, see for myself the usual vacation destination of my “hero,” John F. Kennedy, and his family.
I went to the Gray Line Tours Terminal along Broadway in Manhattan and bought an overnight tour to Hyannis. The very comfortable and interesting bus ride took approximately four hours and a half, going through quaint small towns, giving me a glimpse of fascinating “rural America.”
Hyannis is the biggest village in the town of Barnstable on Cape Cod, and the Kennedys’ vast three-house family compound is in Hyannis Port, facing Nantucket Sound, and is best seen from aboard a sightseeing cruise Steamer.
Sadly, I arrived Hyannis after the Steamer’s scheduled afternoon sailing, and since my trip back to New York the following day was earlier than its scheduled morning Tour, I had to contend myself with one of those “a-quarter-for-a-minute” telescopes mounted on the beach of Hyannis, to get a closer look at the Kennedy property.
The main house in the three-house compound was where the Kennedy patriarch (Joseph) and matriarch (Rose) lived. John lived in the second house and Robert, in the third house. The youngest of the Kennedy sons, Ted, lived with his parents in the main house. John’s house was inherited by his daughter, Caroline, after his death, but years later, Ted, bought it from her. Ted continued to live in the main house until he died in 2009. Three years later, the main house was donated to the Edward K. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate.
Since I couldn’t get a closer look at the Kennedy property, I decided to go on a leisurely walk around the village instead and savor its charm, the same allure that has made it a sanctuary for the Kennedys. Going through the village’s Main Street, I was immediately mesmerized. It is very peaceful, laid-back, with nary a vehicle on the road. The street is lined with quaint little shops that tell you loud and clear—you are in rural America! I stopped by an ice cream parlor which sold home-made ice cream, and on the same row is a small savings bank, a curio shop, a candy corner, and a barber shop...a scene like those I see in Hollywood movies with a rustic setting!
The people on the street were so friendly that everyone I passed by greeted me with a sincere “Good afternoon” or a “Hi, how are you doing?” Frankly, I almost had to pinch myself, as I couldn’t believe I was in America, after being used to the frenetic pace of life in Manhattan or in any other city in the US, where pedestrians just bump into you carelessly, as they hurry on to their respective destinations.
In fact, I felt so inadequate in the face of all the saccharine greetings from those nice and courteous people on the road, I decided to continue my tour of the village on a horse-driven trolley. It was almost like our calesa, but with more passengers and no smell of horse’s poo. It was a slow but, definitely, relaxing tour of the Hyannis that the Kennedys loved so much.
The beaches of Hyannis are also interesting. Kalmus Beach, which is the largest, is divided into two sections, one for swimmers and a separate area for windsurfers, so that “never the twain shall meet.”
That is how much they look after the fun-lovers’ safety.
Since the cold autumn weather stopped people from taking a dip in the water, I opted to spend time at the John F. Kennedy Memorial, which is on Ocean Street overlooking Lewis Bay, where the President loved to go sailing. The Memorial is a large rectangular stone wall with two oversized medallions made of bronze, one on the front, with his bust profile, while the other one at the back, with the official seal of the USA. The structure has a beautiful reflecting pool with a fountain, which is lit from the bottom of the pool, making it look like the Eternal Flame at JFK’s tomb at Arlington Cemetery.
It was a beautiful and fulfilling two-day visit to the town that the Kennedy’s have always called home. I’m sure that, just like them, many others, including myself, would also have made it our home, if given a choice. But the stork brought me halfway across the world, for my own brand of happiness. I’m just glad I finally experienced the town’s “magic” that has so captivated the Kennedys. That’s one item off my bucket list.
YOUR WEEKEND CHUCKLE:
A woman asks, “If I sleep with 3 men, everyone will call me a slut, but when a man sleeps with 10 women, everyone will call him a real man! Why is that so?”
Confucius says, “When one lock can be opened by 3 different keys, it’s a bad lock. But when one key can open 10 different locks, we call it a Master Key!”
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