Rosemary Heath at work during the September primary
Confessions of a Stuy Town kid turned local poll worker
By Sabina Mollot
Rosemary Heath, Town & Village’s advertising representative, is also a Stuyvesant Town lifer and for the past three years, has been a poll worker at local elections.
Prior to Election Day today, Heath spoke with Town & Village about what it’s like to work at the polls, and how she got her first taste of politics at a young age. She was four when President Dwight Eisenhower campaigned in Stuyvesant Town in 1956 and eight when then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy did the same — and almost got a pot of water dumped on his head from Heath’s window.
When JFK came to campaign in 1960, it was at the corner of First Avenue and 20th Street in front of what is now Hane restaurant (then Plymouth, a women’s clothing store).
This week marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. President for less than three years, Kennedy still fascinates and inspires us even after more than fifty years since his assassination in Dallas.
Born into a family of wealth and privilege, nonetheless John Kennedy was instructed that “to those who much is given, much is expected” and that public service was a high calling.
What is it about the JFK legacy that still kindles a flame within us?
I suspect that part of it was the manner in which he left us so young with so much unfulfilled promise. I also suspect that part of the Kennedy mystique is attributed to the turbulent years that were the 1960s. It was a time of hope and change and also triumph and tragedy.
Thank you for publishing that picture of the John F. Kennedy rally (from the Nov. 3, 1960 issue).
I was standing 20-30 feet directly in front of him in the densely packed crowd, and there, standing right there, was the handsomest human anyone had ever seen in person. The partially angled sun was streaming through his crown of glorious hair, the color of which was a glowing rose gold. He was so handsome that it was breathtaking. To this day, I have yet to see any picture or image that looked as good as the man I saw that day. Charisma emanated off of him in waves like he was exhaling it to the entire crowd.
I don’t remember a word he said, and I doubt anyone there ever did. He truly could have been reading from the phone book for all that it mattered.
This was magic incarnate!
It is no discredit that the black and white photo you printed didn’t really capture what that day really looked like — I’m not sure any picture could, but it did rekindle very deep memories of that day in 1960. It took me back to a really magical experience. I wish everyone could have been there that day.
He cut an imposing figure, the like of which I’ve never seen since in politics. It set the mold for Democrats seeking high-ranking public office should look like and try to emulate the kind of charm that’s needed. Only Bill Clinton captured it somewhat successfully.
It was written in the history/sociology/political books that JFK was selected by a coalition of Democrat/Catholic/Jewish and Labor voters, which is partially true. What was said and what was apparent at the time of the election was that the vote that won him the presidency was the female vote. Look at the man. Look at the picture of Nixon circa 1960 and then one of JFK smiling and you’ll see why women (and men) voted for him. He looked like the man you wanted representing America to the world and to America itself. It was obvious then, but no longer mentioned.
With the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination coming up, seniors at the Stein Center took a moment earlier this week to tell Town & Village what they were doing when they found out about the historical shooting.
Rose Ackrish had a unique experience to recount of the day’s events. She said that she was walking by a bank that was on the corner of East 17th Street near Union Square Park and it was in the process of getting robbed. She said she then went back to her office to tell her coworkers about the incident.
“I got back and I said, ‘You’ll never believe what just happened,’ and everyone said, ‘We already know,’” she said. “I just thought, how could they know about the robbery? But then someone said that the president had been shot. I never did find out what happened with that bank robbery.”