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Thursday, July 3, 2014

JFK El Paso, TX 6/5/63

Irish Grin Captures EP Hearts

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy unleashed political magic Wednesday to capture the hearts of El Pasoans who waited endless minutes to catch a glimpse of his arrival at Hotel Cortez.
Hair tousled, his face burned by the Southwest sun, and wearing his internationally famous Irish grin, the President brought forth spontaneous shouts of delight as he alighted from his special limousine and to the obvious consternation of his protective cordon of secret service agents, strode to the curbside to grasp the hands outstretched in warm welcome.
0160195_4The President, slated to dash from his car to the protection of the Hotel Cortez, instead alighted on the street side, crossed to the waiting throngs and circled along the roped off crowd of greeters, shaking hands and giving the benediction of his smile to all within reach.
Amid a roar of heartfelt approval the President entered the Hotel to be met by Manager Bill Wiggins and ascend to the main lobby, again roped off to provide him free passage.
Again the President crossed up his guard of secret service men, clothed in the anonymity of crew cuts and dark business suits, to take a close look at the special cake baked in his honor by Cortez Chef George L. Young and to shake the hands of those who had waited nearly two hours for this arrival.
Close behind the President, wearing a grey suit with a silver striped blue tie, were Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Gov. John Connally, Sen. Ralph Yarborough, Ambassador Raymond Telles, Mayor Judson Williams, Richard White and a host of other national and local officials and political notables.
Among those to ascend in the elevator to his sixth floor suite were Ambassador Telles, former El Paso mayor called from his post in Costa Rica to accompany the President on his Western states tour.
A sidelight of the hotel crowd scene was West Texas Congressman Ed Foreman in animated conversation with Gov. Connally and The Times Washington Correspondent Sarah McClendon.
0160198_4El Paso citizens numbering in the hundreds lined the sidewalks on Mesa Street and overflowed onto San Jacinto Plaza, held back by ropes strung from hooded parking meters and closed ranked uniformed policemen.
Newsmen flanked the hotel entrance and, inside, other spectators jammed against restraining ropes to take snapshots of the President and his entourage as he approached the elevators.
The President arrived at the hotel at 7:05 p.m. and by 8:30 Secret Service men reported he was settled down for the night after an arduous day that started in the nation’s Capitol at 4 a.m., El Paso time.
El Paso Mayor Judson Williams was ushered to the President’s suite shortly after he arrived and spent 20 minutes in conference with the chief executive.
Mayor Williams, although not at liberty to repeat his conversation with President Kennedy, said he and the President went over developments of the Chamizal settlement “step by step” from the El Paso visit of ambassador to Mexico Thomas Mann last year to the present imminent settlement between Mexico and the U.S.
The President had a large, detailed map of El Paso in his suite and from his window could see the area of long dispute between the two sovereign governments.
“While the solution of the dispute was not initiated in El Paso, I assured the President we will certainly support any program in the best interest of bettered relations between Mexico and the U.S.” Mayor Williams said following their private talk.
“It was most encouraging to note the complete grasp the President has of the Chamizal situation and I left with the distinct feeling that the fullest consideration is being given by the President to the best benefit and interest of El Paso,” Mayor Williams said.
He said the meeting with president Kennedy was “most cordial” and the President indicated by his attitude during the prolonged conversation an intense interest in El Paso and its future progress.
“I sat alone in a room adjoining the President’s for several moments after being called. The President walked through the connecting door and we were alone for some 20 minutes,” Mayor Williams said.
“The President expressed thanks for the revolvers and Texas Ranger badges we presented to him and said they were terrific. He enthusiastically said he was going to take the special gold plated Ranger badge back to Mrs. Kennedy and that she would truly appreciate them. I then presented him with a pair of hand tooled Western boots and a Stetson hat. He looked them over appreciatively and said they were beautiful, and fine examples of El Paso’s western hospitality,” Williams reported.
He said he was not authorized to make any further statements regarding his conversation with the President, but they had covered the entire area of the Chamizal settlement.
Another popular visitor to El Paso, who was continuously surrounded by El Paso and Juarez newsmen, was Ambassador Telles.
The former El Paso mayor said he received a telephone call from the President asking him to fly from San Jose to Washington to accompany the Presidential party to Colorado Springs, White Sands and El Paso.
“It was somewhat frenzied arranging plane accommodations but Pan-American held its plane for me for a full hour,” Ambassador Telles said.
The former El Paso mayor said he was “filled with emotion” at the reception given the President by El Pasoans and the warmth of their welcome.
“I am so happy to be back home, if only for a brief time and it warms my heart to be again with my many dear friends and to be warmly received,” Telles said.
He said he would accompany the President on to San Diego, Calif., and had “several jobs” to do for the President before he returns to his ambassadorial post in Costa Rica. He said he is due in Panama Sunday to “carry out an assignment for the state Department.”
“When I have fulfilled my obligations as a servant to the U.S. government and feel there is no further challenge for whatever service I am able to give I will return to El Paso, my home and my people,” Ambassador Telles said.
“My family is well and send their best regards to all our El Paso friends,” he said.

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