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On November 18, 1961 both JFK & VP Lyndon Johnson attended the funeral of Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn who was sometimes called “Mr. Sam”. 

The funeral service was held in Bonham, Texas.

Ironically, it was Mr. Sam who had recognized Tennessee Senator Albert Gore, Sr. at the 1956 Democratic Convention when JFK was making a bid to be the Vice-Presidential running mate of Adlai Stevenson.  

In recognizing Gore, JFK’s near victory turned to defeat when Gore announced he was switching his support from Kennedy to fellow Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver.  

The Stevenson-Kefauver ticket was soundly defeated by Eisenhower-Nixon & JFK became the front runner for the 1960 Democratic Presidential nomination.

When I visited Washington, D.C. for the first time in my life in 1962, my Dad & Uncle took me along to meet Senator Kefauver.  I remember him being a very tall man.  I, of course, really wanted to meet the President & when I got a chance to speak, said so.  I still remember the look on Kefauver’s face.

I learned years later why the Senator might have been somewhat irritated by my interest in JFK.  I guess I had just assumed all Democrats loved one another.  I also met Senator Gore in 1966 on my second visit to Washington.

I was taking my Uncle Jim, newly arrived from Australia, to the Senator’s office to get passes for the US Senate when in the hall way a side door popped open & out stepped Senator Gore wearing a tie with kangaroos on it. 

I went up to him & told him I was from Tennessee & that my uncle was from Australia.  He told us he had just returned from a trip there & that’s why he was wearing the kangaroo tie.  

After the funeral service, JFK flew to LA where he attended a dinner given in his honor by Southern California Democrats.  Also attending the dinner were singers Frank Sinatra & Nat King Cole.

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