Way Back When … 1960
Published 3:03 pm, Friday, February 17, 2017
As the nation heads into Presidents Day weekend it is a good time to reflect on one of the most impressive presidential visits to the Fairfield area. In November 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy flew into Bridgeport Municipal Airport in Stratford and campaigned in the area, stopping at Railroad Station Plaza in Bridgeport on Nov. 6.
The above photograph was taken that day, just two days before the election. Students from the recently formed Young Democratic Club at Fairfield University were there, helping to campaign for the senator. The Connecticut Sunday Herald estimated 75,000 people were at the event.
The photograph was taken by Frank Gerratana, whose work was featured at an exhibition at the Fairfield Museum & History Center last year. Gerratana worked as a professional photographer for more than 40 years, becoming chief photographer for the Connecticut Sunday Herald, as well as the New England director and a lifetime member of the National Press Photographers Association. He also served as president of the Bridgeport Camera Club.
During his lengthy career, he noted that he had “photographed every U.S. president since Roosevelt” and had been “on campaign tours with Truman, Stevenson, and Eisenhower.”
Gerratana photographed places and events in the area, from celebrities to people visiting the circus or Pleasure Beach to firefighters and train accidents, and took advantage of his pilot’s license by taking aerial shots of the city.
The year Sen. John F. Kennedy campaigned in the area, two days before the presidential election.
Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon in one of the closest presidential elections of the 20th century. In the national popular vote, Kennedy led Nixon by just 0.2 percent (49.7 percent to 49.5 percent), while in the electoral vote - with 269 needed to win - Kennedy received 303 and Nixon 219.
The Fairfield Museum and History Center is at 370 Beach Road. Learn more about the history and culture of Fairfield, view rotating exhibitions and purchase Fairfield-themed gifts at the museum. For information, visit Fairfieldhistory.org or call 203-259-1598