Creating Camelot

Cape Cod Life  /  November/December 2023 /

Writer: Chris White

JFK’s legacy and how it has shaped our understanding of an era 60 years after his assassination. When the news from Dallas reached the Cape at about 2:00pm on Friday, November 22nd, 1963, Dick Neitz was waiting with his classmates in the bus pick-up area at Dennis-Yarmouth (D-Y) High School. It was a balmy afternoon, the start of the weekend before Thanksgiving. Anticipation of the upcoming school break danced in the air. Earlier in 1963, Dick had moved full-time to his family’s former summer home in West Yarmouth, so this was Dick’s first year at D-Y, his 11th grade. And it had been an exciting time ever since the summer of 1960—the run-up to John F. Kennedy’s successful presidential bid—the Cape had been abuzz with JFK fever. In the months of July and August, Lewis Bay and Hyannis Harbor had been bustling. Neitz recalls, “Most often, when the President was on board the Kennedy family yacht, Marlin, the Victura or one of the presidential yachts, there was a U.S. Coast Guard boat, harbor patrol boats from Yarmouth and Barnstable, secret service aboard two black jet-powered ski boats, and often a chartered press boat. There was a segment of Cape Cod, including some of the Kennedys’ neighbors in Hyannis Port, that didn’t really enjoy all the traffic and commotion—but as a kid, it was neat, and became kind of festive when the helicopters would arrive.”    © Mark Shaw / mptvimages.com Earlier that summer, Neitz had been cruising along in his motorboat when he found himself on a near collision course with Victura, JFK’s Wianno Senior. Jack Kennedy himself was sailing, at the helm with the President’s security team watching from a distance. “I didn’t know what to do,” Neitz says. The last thing he wanted was make a wrong move…

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Chris White

Chris White is a frequent writer for Cape Cod Life Publications and has written on topics ranging from the history of Smith’s Tavern on Wellfleet Island to the sinking of the SS Andrea Doria off Nantucket. Chris also teaches English at Tabor Academy in Marion.