MEDFORD, Ore. — Fifty years ago TV’s and radios blared, phones rang, and the Rogue Valley — along with much of the country — came to a halt.
“I was in the third grade, I was only eight years old,” said Sallie Teaderman. “And our teacher went to the wall to answer the phone… and she started to cry.”
Nearly 200 residents showed up to Medford’s JFK Exhibit to share their stories – some excited, others solemn.
But perhaps nobody was more touched than 90-year old Wally Watkins.
Wally drove then-Senator Kennedy through the Pear Blossom Parade just three years before his death. They spent two days together, ate dinner together – Kennedy even invited him to his inauguration.
The day JFK died, Wally says, was one of the most devastating days of his life.
“I started crying,” said Wally, tearfully. “And I just felt so bad about it.”
Now as many look upon the pictures, mementos, and old news reports they think about one of the darkest days of America’s past.
But not Wally.
He says he’d rather think about the day he picked up a young senator from the airport.
“There was a woman with two kids… and they weren’t in the group,” said Wally. “There were a lot of officials and stuff who came to see him, but he went over and talked to her! That was impressive… It was impressive.”