My Memories Of The Old Days
For Whatever It's Worth
G. R. Thomas
Article from April 2002 Issue of
It was early in the fifties. I was working in Richmond, Virginia. My supervisor came to me and said he wanted me to go to school and finish my education. I worked for the Davey Co; they offered to send me to Kent State University in Ohio if I would work for them. So I moved from Richmond, Va. to Washington, D.C.
It was there that I first met John F. Kennedy. When I went out to his home to do some work it was on Chain Bige Road. I was with two other men and he saw me wout working he came over smiling and holding out his hand. He said my name is John F. Kennedy. What is your name young man? And I said, Grover Thomas, Sir and shook his hand. He asked, what is your given name? I said, Grover Roosevelt Thomas, Sir. He said that is a good Democrat name. Grover, where are you from and I answered Tennessee, Sir. He asked, what are you doing so far from home? I said the Davey Co., which was owned by Martin L. Dave, and he was Governor of Ohio at that time, promised me they would send me to school if I would work for them. So he said I will help you with your education.
Mr. Kennedy wanted to know who my mother and father were. I told him all about my family; that I was married and had a baby girl named Teresa Jo Thomas and my wife was Betty Jo Thomas. I think I was 18 at that time (It was about 1955.) He was a Senator at that time. He then asked if I knew anything about horses. I said I did train horses to ride and work. He said let's walk down to the barn and I will show you my horses and see what you think of them. They are Jumpers. I told told him they were beautiful.
We talked about the states I had lived in and he wanted to know about the people, how they lived and how they made a living. He asked if I was going back home when I got my education and I said yes. He said Grover, you are a self-made man and I'm proud to have you as a friend and my friends call me John. I said our company won't allow us to call our elders by their first name and he said when you are at my home you can call me John.
All the men that worked with me went to my supevisor and told that I was not doing my job. He told them if John Kennedy wants to talk let him and Grover talk. You are all getting paid for it.
Every time we went to the Kennedy's house to work, Mr. Kennedy asked that I be on the crew.
Well I left Washington D.C. in 1959. John was presient and I told him I was leaving. He told me if I ever needed him to call his office and tell them who I was and they would call him to the phone or take my phone number and he would call me back.
That was the last time I talked to John F. Kennedy. I came home one day in 1962 and my wife met me at the door and said John has been shot. I went down where my gamecocks were and I sat down and cried like a baby.
I was raising game chickens at that time and a man, by the name of Beal called and said he and his sons wanted to come over to my house to see a 12-time winner I had. His picture was on the cover of Grit and Steel. We walked down to my pens and he stood there a minute and said, He don't look like much does he? And the old cock was named Big John. That was in March of 1964 and Grit and Steel was 50 cents.
It always amazed me that John Kennedy could remember my wife and daughter's name, and my mother and father. He always asked how they were every time I saw him and he called everyone of them by their names
God bless you all till next time.
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