Center of Southwest Studies

Collection  M 088:
Southwest newspapers:

John F. Kennedy's visit to Fort Lewis College (Durango, Colo.), June 18, 1960

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This is page 2 of The Basin Star (Durango, Colo.), a weekly newspaper, featuring a photo of
John F. Kennedy shortly after the Democratic Party of Colorado held its convention in Durango.
            Digital file #: M088BasinStar19600623P2

In addition to this newspaper coverage (such as it was; this newspaper issue contained no other mention of the event), the Center of Southwest Studies has film footage by the late Clarence Rieke of John F. "Jack" Kennedy in Durango in 1960 for the Colorado State Democratic Party convention (three rolls of 16mm b/w film which is the Center's accession #1987:08002, and a videotape produced from that footage).  According to the donor's accompanying letter, Rieke was a Durango photographer who did a lot of photo work for the College while LeRoy W. Goodwin was Director of Public Relations at Fort Lewis College.  Goodwin wrote that "Kennedy was on campus to woo delegates then attending the State Democratic Convention, Saturday, June 18, 1960.  The Convention was held in the gym, now the swimming pool [FLC's natatorium].  Among the delegates to the State Convention was Elliott Roosevelt, eldest son of the late President.  At the time, the Elliott Roosevelt family lived on a ranch near Meeker, Colorado.  A daughter of Elliott's briefly attended Fort Lewis. /  When it was announced that Kennedy was coming to Durango, I told my wife that we would need to arrive early because of the large number of women who could be expected to turn out to see him.  We arrived early and found the gym packed. /  Kennedy, fit and tanned, but much shorter in appearance than I had expected to be, practically raced up the steps leading to the speaker's platform, stubbed his toe on a step, but recovered and did not fall.  All around him was a roar of Durango women of all ages saying: `Isn't he cute?' and `Don't you love the way he wears his hair?' /  He had obviously been briefed by local Democratic leaders, a customary practice for visiting politicians.   His speech turned largely on utilizing the West's natural resources. /  At the strong recommendation of Rieke, this film has been kept refrigerated since it was shot to preserve its quality, and I urge that you continue to refrigerate it." [as the Center of Southwest Studies has done ever since].

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Page revised: July 08, 2005