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Thorne: No conspiracy, just good ol' town history

Published: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 9:00 a.m. CDT

BARRINGTON – Upon hearing of Barrington High School’s newly acquired John F. Kennedy photos (see story on page 14) I began my quest for knowledge.

When was Kennedy, a Democrat running for president at the time, in Barrington? Why did he visit? Why don’t more people have photos from that day?

Well, as fifth generation Barrington resident Ed Wichman reminded me – cell phone cameras did not exist in 1960. Plus, Wichman said he thinks the Kennedy visit took place on a weekday morning and most people were either busy at work or possibly uninterested in the then-U.S. senator’s political views.

“I remember a rather large crowd, but it was a lot of students, and Barrington was primarily a Republican town,” Wichman said.

Wichman graduated from BHS in 1963, and although he said he remembers the day distinctly – with Kennedy speaking at a podium on the steps of the high school – Wichman said he just cannot remember many people taking photos.

“We were just kids,” Wichman said. “We didn’t have cameras. But I’m sure the press was there.”

Interestingly, several of the black-and-white photos recently donated to BHS by 1962 graduate and Barrington resident Joyce Taillon appear to be the right size for press photos of that time (11 by 14 inches).

I carried on with my trip down history lane by calling Barrington librarian Rose Faber to see what she knew about Kennedy’s visit. Faber shocked me with the news of six photos that had already been donated to the library by Robert and Alice Perkins in 2006.

Looking at the library photos, I realized that Taillon and BHS staff really did have a rare find on their hands. Don’t get me wrong – the library photos supplement Barrington’s history collection quite well, but Taillon’s speak to the high school’s past.

These newly donated photos, to be unveiled at BHS on Thursday, Nov. 21, as part of the school’s Future Presidents Exhibit, show Kennedy and the front of the high school more vividly than ever.

Speaking with BHS U.S. History teacher Derek Gablenz on a very timely subject – the 50-year anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination is Friday, Nov. 22 – I was curious to hear Gablenz’s opinion of the ever popular conspiracy theories.

Gablenz told me he has spent years of his life reading such conspiracy theories, but all in all, most evidence he has found suggests that it was Lee Harvey Oswald who killed Kennedy.

While we all can argue conspiracy theories, I believe there’s one thing all Barrington residents will agree on – this town has such a fascinating history.

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