Local Ted Kennedy memories

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                                                                    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

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         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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