Kennedy shaking hands of patients from the Georgia Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation (GWSIR)

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Portfolio: Photographs

After my initial time spent at the Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation (WSIR) following my spinal injury resulting from a diving accident, I returned to WSIR for follow-up in October 1960. I have been an avid photographer from an early age, and always did my own developing and printing. Therefore I had my camera with me whenever possible. John F. Kennedy made a campaign swing through Georgia on October 10, 1960, which included a speech at Franklin Roosevelt’s Little White House at Warm Springs. Several patients, including me, were invited to go hear him. Naturally I grabbed my camera and went.

I was seated in a spot near the podium and got several excellent images of Kennedy and some of the other dignitaries, including a funny one of former Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin shaking hands with a press corps representative, both with cigarettes dangling from their mouths. I was fortunate to snap a photo of Kennedy just as he made a dramatic gesture with his arm thrust upward. Another photo was of Kennedy moving down the row of patients from WSIR. I was surprised to see an apparently disembodied outstretched hand at the lower left of the photo, which belonged to a Georgia State Trooper partially hidden by another in front when I developed the picture. When Kennedy reached me, I noted his extremely limp handshake. He must have been very tired and probably suffering pain from his bad back.

I have never published these images and only recently scanned my negatives and made enlargements from them. I was not sure people would believe that I was the one who took these photos. Then, a few months ago, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a story titled “Flashback Fotos: JFK’s 1960 campaign in Georgia.” To my great surprise one of the photos showed me in the audience at the Little White House speech with my camera and strap partially visible around my neck. Now I had proof I was there!