"JFK Comes To Dinner" Was the Headline on The Miami News' Story I wrote of His Visit on November 18, 1963

"Let me touch you," said my babysitter, all starry-eyed. "You went to President Kennedy's dinner? May I see the menu?"

Holders of invitations to the Inter-American Press Association dinner in honor of the President came home early. It was over by 9 o'clock.

And their social status will rate high if only they don't mention some 1200 "others" went to the "intimate" gathering at the Americana Hotel.

It was a politician's paradise -- that is, if they like shaking hands with other politicians. Although the mammoth 6 p.m. sipping hour was very democratic, JFK was "upstairs" with about three score of the IAPA wheels.

At 7 p.m., the masses surged into the ballroom (no reserved tables except for 'White House entourage and convention dignitaries.)


Sen. George Smathers, Gov. and Mrs. Farris Bryant, Rep. Dante Fascell and his Jeanne, Rep. Claude Pepper with his Mildred, headed the Florida top brass. Raising glasses of sparkling burgundy in a toast to the President proposed by IAPA President Romulo O'Farrell Jr., preceded the $15 a head roast beef dinner.

Judge and Mrs. J. Fritz Gordon, Mary and Ben McGahey, Claire and Sidney Weintraub, Phyllis Pollak, Clara and Bill Simmons were there; she's gone into the haute couture business and was wearing one of her own Pour Elles creations.

President Kennedy's limousine was parked right by the speaker's platform, they learned. (He went through a door no one saw.)

Exemplifying a true Inter-American was delegate Henry Goethals who covers Mexico for Copley papers. His grandfather built the Panama Canal. (Besides President Kennedy's photograph and a ballroom shot, there was a table photo of Rep. Eddie Gong and his wife.)