It was only a bit later when I was visiting a classmate’s family in Hyannis that I expressed my puzzlement at Kennedy’s feat. “Oh, one of them said, they’re all like that, they (the Kennedys) never forget a face or name.”
While he and I played squash together a few times afterwards and I saw him from time to time walking to classes, etc., we certainly were not close.
So, again, it was somewhat of a surprise when I was skiing with friends in typically bitter January weather at Stowe a few years later, to have a big but graceful figure on skis, who was as shrouded as I, pull up and say “Hey, John, how are you, what are you up to these days?” Again, I was incredulous. We chatted, parted and that was that. I thought.
Much, much later when I was a spokesman first for Viet Nam Vets Against the War and then the American Psychiatric Association, I found myself testifying before Congress on various bills for various lost causes and unfailingly, just before the session would be called to order, Ted would step into the room, quickly cross over to the panelists’ table as if he were simply another citizen and shake my hand, saying how much he was looking forward to my testimony.
How did he know I’d be there?, why did he care, since I couldn’t vote for him (except for President)?, and what friendly/political/gentlemanly calculus brought about such faithful greetings? I have no idea, but I was always flattered, impressed and left DC with a warmer feeling about our government than I came in with. If we had representatives who were so respectful of all our citizens as he was, how could our government not command respect?
Brain cancer was a cruel punishment imposed on a man whose brain housed a memory for names and faces unparalleled by others.
Bye-bye Ted, I have no recollection who was better at squash or skiing but I surely know who was better at friendship.