Nina M. Scott: Witness to history: Rosalynn Carter, JFK
|Published: 11-30-2023 5:57 PM
Two events occurred this past week that reminded me of where I was when they happened.
Nov. 22, 1963, the day JFK was assassinated, my husband Jim and I were in Lugano, working at the American School in Switzerland. It was already evening there when we got the news, and since many of the students at the school were far from their families, they were naturally very frightened. Luckily almost all the faculty were at the school, having gathered there to attend a theater production.
We spent hours comforting the students, and then arranged a memorial service on the beautiful grounds of the school. That evening the local community invited all members of the school to a candlelight church service honoring the slain president.
I actually met JFK in August 1958, when I was returning home after my junior year abroad with the Smith College program in Madrid. I was on the SS America, bound from Bremerhaven to New York, with stops in England, France and Ireland before heading home. I had met a handsome undergrad from Harvard and was having a fine time.
When we looked over the railings in Southampton, we saw then-Sen. Kennedy board and were very excited about it. Terry and I had figured out a way to sneak from our Tourist Class to First Class to walk the spacious deck there in the evenings. It so happened that JFK had the same idea — he walked in one direction and we in the other. I lament now not to have had the courage to talk to him. He nodded and smiled at us whenever we passed each other.
When we got to New York, Jackie was there to meet him. I was surprised at how tall she was.
First lady Rosalynn Carter made a trip to Latin America in the spring of 1977. Jim and I were in Quito, Ecuador, at the time; he was working for an international school named Academia Cotopaxi. The whole school was invited to greet Mrs. Carter at the airport. At the time, Ecuador was ruled by a three-man military junta who, instead of greeting the first lady themselves, sent their wives to welcome her. We thought it was a very deft diplomatic maneuver and not without humor.
Nina M. Scott