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Style, Ambition and a Nod From Frank Sinatra Came Together During a Senatorial Bid in 1958, and on a Chilly Day in East Boston, a 41-Year-Old and His Wife Felt the Love

By Michael McCarthy | November 16, 2020 | Culture People Past Events

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John F. Kennedy, along with Jackie, campaigning for the Senate in East Boston shortly before election day in 1958.

It’s easy to get nostalgic about politics, even though extraordinary people have been sullied by the endeavor for more than 200 years. Just before election day 1958, John F. Kennedy was in East Boston wrapping up his senatorial campaign against Republican candidate Vincent J. Celeste. If he won big, he figured, it would further improve his visibility in the Democratic party nationally. Kennedy was eyeing the bigger prize in 1960: a run for the presidency. So, leading up to the day thispicture was snapped, Kennedy crisscrossed the country and met with party officials, gave speeches and even attended the annual National Corn Picking Contest in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. People started to pay attention to the 41-year-old senator from Massachusetts. On Oct. 24, he was even endorsed by Frank Sinatra. On election day, Kennedy won 73.6% of the vote, the largest popular margin ever received in Massachusetts. Three weeks later, he was on the cover of Time magazine with other 1960 Democratic hopefuls Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. Again, it’s easy to get nostalgic. It’s even easier to see this image and yearn for innocence lost: Jackie’s gloves (usually Chanel), Kennedy’s wool suit (he was a Brooks Brothers man), the glad-handing Irish cop, the slightly bewildered Boston school children, the accessibility of it all. Much was wrong with America in 1958, but the things that were right, embodied in a young man with ambition and a city that adored him, are worth remembering.



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Photography by: Carl Mydans/Getty Images