Hey, Spike! offers a Thanksgiving Day JFK tale
Ryan Summerlin November 22, 2012
Time – where does it go and why so fast? Yesterday, Nov. 22, 2012, marked 49 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963.
It was a few months earlier when he and Hey, Spike! waved to each other on Pueblo’s Abriendo Avenue following Kennedy’s speech in a sun-baked, crowded football stadium on the banks of the Arkansas River.
Spike had hot-footed it down the median-divided boulevard, taking a begged-for break from his part-time job at the neighborhood’s little Associated Grocery store across from his family home, to stand outside the fence and hear the charismatic president address a heavily Democratic, unionized community – once honored as the Steel City of the West.
Before your faithful scribe was able to return to his clerking and bagging post, the nation’s commander-in-chief was already airport-bound in his shiny black Lincoln convertible – the top down, accompanied by a heavy police escort.
Spike was headed in the same direction, standing alone on what was a normally busy Chinese elm tree-lined street. The president’s motorcade came by, our eyes met, we smiled and waved. The mind’s eye picture remains clearly vivid all these years later.
The remaining summer was consumed with post Central High graduation fun and entering the newly-renamed Southern Colorado State College (formerly Pueblo Junior College) in the fall – for but one quarter. Army duty in France would soon follow.
During that autumn quarter, filled with everything but studying, one day four of us found ourselves down on Main Street in a pool hall for lunchtime.
It was that day.
We happened to overhear some old regulars chatting about someone who’d been shot. We gave it little thought, thinking it was Pueblo history.
Returning to campus, we found out what had happened: The president had been shot and killed in Texas.
Stunned, we were. And, honestly, we still are.
That event was followed by grey days of mourning – televised in black and white – from Washington, D.C. The riderless horse and JFK’s toddler son John’s salute made us cry.
The presidential assassination and the many conspiracy theories have been hashed over and thrashed about, with still no clear answer as to whom and why? Russians, Cubans, Texans, mafia?
Brother Bobby’s death would follow and still there are no real answers.
The closest Spike would come to the presidency again was when he orchestrated a press conference for former-President Gerald R. Ford at the Brown Palace Hotel in Downtown Denver in 1982, as he spoke in support of a Republican congressional candidate who didn’t win; and a photo-op together with Gerry Engle at a Shell Wonderful World of Golf tourney at Vail’s Cordillera.
Admittedly, it’s satisfying to introduce the president of the United States, made even more special with your dad (mfpiii) and son (mfpv) attending.
It’s those memories and many others in newspapering that has Spike saying thanks on this Thanksgiving Day holiday.
Meanwhile, in other current events worthy of mention, adding to last week’s column on Spike’s recent return to Puerto Vallarta, we became acquainted with a veteran foreign correspondent while at Nacho Daddy’s for a night of music performed by friend Joe King Carrasco.
Larry Kaplow was there doing a piece on Joe, a Texas recording Tex-Mex star who now calls PV home.
“In 2011 I moved to Mexico after 12 years in the Mideast,” says Larry. “I was a Baghdad bureau chief for Newsweek and a Mideast correspondent for Cox Newspapers.”
In 2009, he summed up America’s legacy in Iraq as “Iraqi Good Enough,” and in 2010 helped report and narrate an Iraq episode of “This American Life.”
Recently, reporting for ForeignPolicy.com, Larry described Mexico City’s surprising security and profiled a Mexican activist on the run from attackers.
“I looked at the Mexico-US relationship through Mitt Romney,” he explains. “I examined ‘spillover’ violence and the 2012 drug war for The Daily Beast.”
Additionally, “I gave some Iraq-centric advice to Libya’s new leaders on ForeignPolicy.com. I profiled Mexico’s peace movement for TheAtlantic.com and visited the scene of a Guatemalan massacre for GlobalPost.com.”
In another Mexican setting we met Barbara Buryiak, who runs Travels with Barbara, and was on a fam tour. She’s based in Boston, but apparently doesn’t spend much time there.
We also chatted with Caballito de Mar gallery owner Carolina Simonton at the RiverCafe, not far from her oceanside residence. She and sister-in-law Gloria Auch specialize in South of the Border antiquities.
Others we met included Lance and Chelly Sterman of New Jersey, who own Ferraris; and Gary and Merrylou Stillwell of Boise, Idaho, who have a stable of Corvettes.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years.
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