Remembering Sen. Edward Kennedy

Published 5:21 pm Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SELMA — Good Irish wakes are known for good stories. And some folks here have a good story about the time Sen. Edward M. Kennedy attended an engagement party at Sturdivant Hall.

Kennedy, D-Mass., a senator for 47 years and major figure in U.S. politics, died at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass. late Wednesday night. He was 77.

Molly Gamble recalls the party was held for Amanda Smith, Kennedy’s niece, and Carter Hood, a local resident, son of Alice Hood Keenan. It was the spring of 2000.

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“There was a violent thunderstorm shortly before it was to begin and Alice, Carter’s mother, was concerned that it could be held outside under the tent,” Gamble said. “But it did clear and it was a lovely party.”

Kennedy was present, “and was very congenial with everyone he met,” Gamble said.

Many people asked to have their photographs taken with him and he agreed, she said.

Doris Truax also attended the party. She remembers Kennedy working the room, very comfortable in his surroundings.

“He was dancing with all the women,” Truax said. “I didn’t dance with him.”

Truax said she was impressed with how Kennedy seemed to make people feel important when they talked to him.

Their paths crossed when Truax headed out back and Kennedy stopped her to see if she had seen Hood’s mother. Truax told the senator where she had last seen the groom’s mom.

“And he said ‘OK. Thanks,’” Truax said.

Martha Jackson watched Kennedy from across the way, but did not meet him.

“He was inside and I saw him from a distance,” Jackson said.

Most people were outside at the party. Jackson met Kennedy’s niece, the daughter of the senator’s sister, Jean Kennedy Smith.

“I was one of many, many people invited to the party,” Jackson said. “It was a big party. That’s been a pretty good while ago.”

Kennedy will be buried Saturday at Arlington National Cemetery after a funeral Mass in Boston. He will lie in repose at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston before that.

Also buried at Arlington, the military cemetery overlooking the capital city, are John and Robert Kennedy; John Kennedy’s spouse, Jacqueline; their baby son, Patrick, who died after two days, and their stillborn child.