Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Wife's Brush With Greatness

It was the summer of 1960 and my wife Ann was 14 years old. Her family lived in San Marino, close to Pasadena, and the Democratic Convention was in Los Angeles. Ann’s family was Irish; her father had risen from being a newsboy in Hell’s Kitchen in New York, had been awarded a Pulitzer Scholarship to Columbia, and had become president of his own successful chemical company. It was another Irish Catholic family, the Kennedy’s, that was contending for a larger Presidential nomination at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles. So John Morrisroe decided to take some of his five kids down to Los Angeles to experience that convention.

Who knew that this would be the day that Ann would have a brush with greatness? As I understand it, the family Morrisroe was milling around the convention headquarters hotel. There was a little stir, and coming toward them was a young man, in a hurry, resembling the candidate, but younger. It was Ted Kennedy. He came closer. He approached Ann. Ann, it must be said, was a gangly teenager who had not yet claimed her ultimate great beauty, but her intelligence must have shown through. Ted then uttered to her his immortal words: “Outta my way, kid!”

From such greatness, these words could only be metaphorical. The future was beckoning, surely. Ann must have represented the great future unknown, the horde of future admirers who would benefit from his untiring pursuits of goodness for all. Let the future beware!

Or perhaps it was the entire weight of the Kennedy future that would torture him again and again, unbearable burdens that he would have to fight through and throw off. Outta my way, indeed.

Or could it have been the Democratic orthodoxy that denied him to crown that would have enabled him finally to realize the goals of a generation, thwarted by Carter, and then by the Republican reaction of thirty years?

“Outta my way.” And to think it was my future wife, Ann, who received those words of foreshadowing and, dare I say it, inspiration. Outta my way, indeed.

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