Former UMaine student

remembers Kennedy visit

ORONO (AP) – A former University of Maine student who was in the crowd when President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to students on campus weeks before his assassination recalls “screaming and cheering” by an electrified audience.

And Sally McKay’s sister, Mary Macomber, had even a better seat: on the stage where the president spoke.

“When he spoke at the football stadium it was jam packed,” McKay, formerly of Auburn and now a Massachusetts resident, said Thursday. She remembered the president’s charismatic appeal to the students during his talk, which touched on foreign policy and youths getting involved in public affairs.

“They were absolutely enthralled, screaming and cheering,” said McKay, who was then a sophomore.

Just weeks later, McKay recalled, she was in the Bear’s Den in Memorial Union when she heard news of the assassination.

“It was like everything stopped, time froze,” she said. The mood all over campus was instantly somber.

McKay was so overwhelmed by Kennedy’s murder that she and three friends left campus and drove to Washington, D.C., where they saw the JFK funeral procession and a city in mourning.

She had signed out, as was required then, but the four students were late returning and faced disciplinary action before a campus group known as All Maine Women.

Coincidentally, Sally’s sister Mary, then a senior, was on the disciplinary board. As it turned out, no action was taken against the four.

“Our excuse was that nothing calamitous happened,” said McKay, who is now a legal secretary in Boston.

Her sister Mary lives in Florida. Their maiden name is Goucher.

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