May 23, 2005
For those of us who grew up in the '60s, this has a very special meaning. Once there was a young and handsome president, a beautiful wife and adorable children. The world was a different place. We had survived the Cuban Missal crisis, made the mighty Russian back down, and we believed in fairy tales, misty Avalon, and happily ever after. It all came crashing down on November 22, 1963, and no one who was alive then will ever forget where he or she was. A visit to this museum in downtown Hyannis brought all of the magic that was Camelot back.
You begin by viewing a seven-minute video entitled "Coming Home," narrated by Walter Cronkite. He introduces us to Hyannis as the northern White House. It was the place where the president escaped the pressures of Washington, even if only momentarily. It was very nostalgic for the oldsters in the group and informative for the youngster. It has been years since I have seen video of Caroline and her pony Macaroni. I was rather impressed with myself for knowing the pony’s name.
The rest of the museum consists of photos of the Kennedy family at home in Hyannisport. There are photos from the childhood of Jack and his siblings as well as from the days of the Presidency. There are pictures of the Kennedy Compound, which is in reality three separate houses that are presently owed by Senator Edward Kennedy, Mrs. Ethel Kennedy, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. This is still very much a Kennedy summer getaway. There are photos showing what the house looked like when Joe and Rose bought the first house and some a bit more recent, but none that could be considered an invasion of privacy.
This is a small museum with several small cases of campaign memorabilia from the 1960 race. However, for all of us, the most poignant exhibit was a sculpture called "What Could Have Been". It shows Jack and John Kennedy walking together on a beach. Jack is an older man and John an adult. It brought tears to my eyes, and it affected my daughter Kasey the same way. Though not on par with the Kennedy Library in Boston, it was certainly a worthwhile visit for anyone who has any interest in the Kennedy family or the 35th president.
There is a small gift store that is very kid-friendly, and parking is free in the rear of the building.
From journal Cape Cod with the Hooligans