When John F. Kennedy visited Barrington, Illinois on October 25, 1960, photographer Robert Perkins took this and many other photos. Earlier that day, JFK had visited the town where I was living, Lake Zurich, which is very near to Barrington.
There was a great deal of excitement about a presidential candidate visiting our small town. If memory serves, the schools let all of the kids in and above the fourth grade attend JFK’s drive through our “downtown.” I was eight years old at the time, in the third grade. My teacher, Mrs. Ulrich, explained the reason why we could not attend was that the school administrators thought the significance of the event would be lost on us younger kids, that we would not remember it in later years. I thought it sucked that we could not go, but also thought that it was cool of our teacher to explain to us in an adult manner why the schools were treating us as nothing but a bunch of stupid kids. Mrs. Ulrich was an OK teacher in my book. She was old back then, so I sincerely doubt that she would still be alive today. Very small in stature, so short most of us eight year old kids could stand eye to eye with here. As a teacher, she was totally in charge of that class and she controlled it by engaging our minds. Over that school year, she explained the significance of the JFK visit and dozens of other noteworthy news events. The news; she always told us to pay attention to the news, to read newspapers.
Well, here it is almost forty-eight years later and I still remember that JFK visit, and I still remember the exclusion of my third grade class from that event. Often school administrators can be extraordinarily shortsighted, but sometimes a teacher like Mrs. Ulrich can make up for it.
James A. Zachary Jr.