on Kennedy's political stance on any particular
Local Ted Kennedy memories issue, but more because of his commitment to
public service and the poor and underserved. "(The
Updated: 08/26/2009 10:39:08 AM EDT Kennedys) were given much, and they tried to give
Lucinda Ames has always been something of a back," she said.
Kennedy groupie. Ames, who lives in Derby, was a
huge fan of President John F. Kennedy while -- AMANDA CUDA
growing up, and even sent him a poem that she'd
written for an anthology. In return, she received a Barbara B. Kennelly, of Hartford, who represented
signed photo of the first family. Connecticut's First Congressional District from 1982
until 1999, recalled meeting Ted Kennedy around
Ames' Kennedy infatuation manifested itself in other 1956, when she was about 20.
ways as well. When she and her family would
vacation on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, they would Her father, long-time state Democratic party boss
often head over to Hyannis Port, where several John Bailey and then U.S. Sen. Abraham A. Ribicoff
members of the political dynasty lived, hoping for a worked unsuccessfully toward obtaining the vice
Kennedy sighting of some sort. When she got older presidential nomination for Kennedy's oldest
and had children, she even turned her daughter into brother, John F. Kennedy.
a Kennedy devotee.
"My father and mother spent a couple months in
"I was always hugely into the Kennedys," said Ames, France that summer working with Joseph Kennedy,
who is a senior marketing and communications Ted and John's father, to plan the strategy," Kennelly
associate at St. Vincent's Medical Center in said in a recent phone interview from Washington,
Bridgeport. "We've always loved them and followed where she is the president and CEO of The National
them." Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
About 20 years ago, Ames had a rare chance to "We were four years apart, but Ted was always
meet Ted Kennedy while on vacation with her family delightful and engaging and when I came to
in Washington, D.C. The family was in the office of Congress we stayed friendly," said Kennelly. She
then-congressman John Rowland, when they noticed recalled differing with Kennedy on the 2003
Kennedy in an office across the hall. Ames said she Medicaid Modernization Act that was changed in a
was totally star-struck. conference committee when the House and Senate
couldn't agree on it.
Kennedy noticed her staring and offered to take a
picture with her. "He was very gracious," Ames "I was impressed by his passion," she said. "He was
remembered. "He said, 'You send me that photo and totally engaged and always had an excellent, helpful
I'll sign it for you.'" She did just that, and still has staff."
the signed photo of herself with Kennedy.
She remembered a campaign event in the State
Though she knows the Kennedys have their flaws, Armory in Hartford that Kennedy attended even
Ames said she has and always will respect them, though he was in a cast from a skiing mishap.
including Ted. She said her admiration isn't based Kennelly also flew to the first debate then-President
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George H.W. Bush had in 1988 with Bill Clinton. Wesleyan University in Middletown had long
"Ted had personality like you wouldn't believe," considered Ted Kennedy a friend of the institution.
Kennelly said. In 1983, his son, Edward Kennedy Jr. graduated
from the school and, a year later, Kennedy himself
She said that as the generations grow older, she's received an honorary doctorate from the school.
proud that her son John is now friends with Thus, "we'd always thought he'd be a great
Kennedy's son Teddy. commencement speaker," said David Pesci, Wesleyan
director of media relations.
"You could talk to him," Kennelly said. "He was the
lion of the Senate, but he never changed. Ted was Last year, Kennedy was finally slated to take on that
always grounded with his family. He had terrible role, speaking to the school's 2008 graduating
tragedies and overcame them and the older he got, class. But, the week of commencement, Kennedy was
the harder he worked." too sick to attend. Thankfully, his staff was able to
find an adequate replacement -- then-Senator Barack
--KEN DIXON Obama, who, at the time, was in the thick of the
presidential primary season. Pesci said, depending
Everyone in Massachusetts, where I was writing a on who you spoke to, either Obama reached out to
front page opinion column late in the summer of Kennedy's people asking to step in, or Kennedy's
1992, knew Ted Kennedy was "the hardest working people reached out to Obama. Whatever the reality,
senator in the country," but I wasn't in the habit of Obama's presence at the commencement created
telling people what they already knew. quite a stir, Pesci said.
So when Sen. Kennedy came to an editorial board "In a way, this was sort of seen as passing the
meeting at our newspaper he wasn't happy with me. political mantle on to the next generation," he said.
He told everyone else how he enjoyed their work --AMANDA CUDA
(even though he mispronounced some of the names)
skipping over me while his new bride, Victoria, who George Jepsen, a Ridgefield lawyer and former state
had come along for some strange reason, smiled. Senate majority leader from Stamford, recalled that
Kennedy was always ready to come down from
He curtly answered my question about why his limo Massachusetts and attend campaign events here.
was outside in the stifling heat running to keep the
A/C pumping, and then he left. "He was very generous with his time, to come
campaign for local Democrats," said Jepsen, who is a
I never held the snub against him. I guess he didn't former state Democratic chairman. "Here is a
like my column that started, "It is a good thing national figure and he always showed up and never
Teddy Kennedy got married. Now he knows what it's lost his gusto, being in a cramped union hall with
like to carry someone else across the threshold." hundreds of people. He never lost that energy."
Victoria, to her credit, thought it was funny. --KEN DIXON
--JOHN HOURIHAN Though he covered Robert Kennedy's presidential
2 of 4 8/26/2009 12:39 PM
campaign as a broadcast journalist, James Dull Kitchen Cabinet and the Pursuit of Peace: The
never got a chance to interview Ted Kennedy. Dull, Shaping of American Foreign Policy, 1961-1963,"
now a political science professor at the University of which comes out next month. Goduti said it was
New Haven in West Haven, did meet the senator at a John Kennedy's election as president that left the
few events he attended in Connecticut. Dull in senate seat open for his brother to fill, and that Ted
particular remembers seeing Kennedy at an event in forged much of his reputation by championing
Hartford in the late 1960s. Back then, Dull said, issues dear to both John and Robert (including civil
Kennedy was a "dashing-looking figure." rights). But Ted also made his own mark with his
dedication to health care reform.
During his career as a journalist, Dull worked both
for the TV station WTNH and the radio station WELI, Goduti said summarizing the lives of the Kennedys
both based in New Haven. During that time and is tricky, because there is a temptation to focus on
beyond, Dull has been an avid observer of the their sometimes sordid private lives. But, as a
Kennedy phenomenon. One of the most striking historian, Goduti said he always tries to focus on
things about Ted Kennedy, Dull said, is how he held the public record; on how these men did there jobs.
tight to his liberal ideals, even in an era of growing On this score, Goduti said, Ted Kennedy was fairly
conservatism. In the late 1960s, admirable, particularly in his dedication. Kennedy
was known to have a bag that his staff would fill up
Dull explained, there was a sort of backlash against with memos and documents on various pieces of
the social change happening in that decade. Political legislation. Goduti said that, at the end of the day,
thinking progressively became more conservative, Kennedy would take the bag home. When he
leading up to the election of President Richard M. returned the next day, the memos in the bags were
Nixon in 1968. But even during Nixon's term and covered in notes. "He has the ability to sit down, do
those of subsequent Republican presidents, his homework and get the job done," Goduti said.
including Ronald Reagan, Kennedy championed
intrinsically liberal ideas, including the emphasis on -- AMANDA CUDA
diplomacy in foreign policy. He and his family also
championed younger Democrats for political The first time I saw Teddy Kennedy was in Derby
leadership roles, including current President Barack during the mid-Seventies when he made a quick
Obama. stop in front of the former Franklin School on Route
34. I remember Teddy almost being pulled from the
"He was always one who both represented the open convertible by crowds of Valleyites hungry to
liberal ideals and continued to work for them," Dull shake the hand of a Kennedy. It wasn't much of a
said. visit, maybe five minutes, but long enough to create
lasting memories. Many who were there also saw
--AMANDA CUDA John Kennedy's now legendary motorcades through
the Valley in 1960 and 1962.
In his blog History Matters, Quinnipiac University
adjunct professor of history Philip Goduti, Jr. Back in the early Eighties, I worked as a reporter for
praises Ted Kennedy as " a force in the Senate," but The Evening Sentinel in the Valley. The pay was low,
also credits much of his rise to Ted's brothers, John but my editor Bob Pollack pretty much let us cover
and Robert. Goduti is the author of "Kennedy's anything as long was we covered our local beats.
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One day I covered Ted Kennedy's visit to the
Riverside Amusement Park (now Six Flags) in
Massachusetts. There was absolutely no news in the
event, just Teddy and his son, Teddy Kennedy Jr.,
riding on the rides. What was cool about the
experience was getting to hang out with Kennedy,
trading small talk and stories. Kennedy was
extremely relaxed and unlike the serious guy in the
Senate, he was smiling most of the time.
On one ride, Kennedy got onto a flimsy swing ride.
It was pretty low-tech ride, just a bunch of one-
person seats connected to a seemingly fragile sets
of chains. For five minutes the ride turned,
propelling people through the air. Kennedy rode on
chair on the edge guaranteeing him the most thrills.
For five minutes, Kennedy flew through the air with a
never-ending smile and his curly hair waving in the
Fortunately, I was able to capture the moment on my
-- JAMES D. SHAY
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