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Social Studies Teacher Jean Garvey Recalls Brush with History

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Social Studies Teacher Jean Garvey Recalls Brush with History

Social studies teacher Jean Garvey recalls her chance meetings with Presidential candidates Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.

Social studies teacher Jean Garvey recalls her chance meetings with Presidential candidates Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.

Social studies teacher Jean Garvey recalls her chance meetings with Presidential candidates Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.

Social studies teacher Jean Garvey recalls her chance meetings with Presidential candidates Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.

Timothy Davis, 21st Century Journalist

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Every afternoon at Junction City High School, Ms. Jean Garvey can be found in a classroom doing what she does best and loves most, teaching history.

Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Ms. Garvey always knew that she wanted to become a history teacher. But what most students don’t know is that she does more than teach it, she’s had an important brush with history herself.

“I was a Kennedy girl,” she says, referring to Robert Kennedy during his run for president in 1968, “I volunteered to help out with the campaign, and we got to do a lot of different things.”

Ms. Garvey felt that she had a natural connection to the Kennedys, almost like they were family. Robert Kennedy represented something she believed in, and she was drawn to that.

“Now, I come from a Catholic Irish family,” Ms. Garvey explains, “and the Kennedy’s are Catholic Irish, John Kennedy of course had been the first Catholic and first Irish president of the United States.”

She was alive when John Kennedy ran for president, and really supported his younger brother. She wanted Robert Kennedy to take John Kennedy’s place, after the unfortunate events that occurred during his presidency.

“And of course I was old enough to remember his election and his assassination,” she recalls, “and Robert was his younger brother.”

Social studies teacher Jean Garvey attends a political rally for Robert Kennedy’s campaign as a freshman in high school. Garvey can be seen in the crowd behind Kennedy’s left shoulder.

She, with three other “Kennedy Girls”, were waiting outside a hotel in Omaha where they knew Robert Kennedy was currently inside. However, the first person to come out was someone they weren’t expecting.

“Out comes another presidential candidate, Democrat Hubert Humphrey,” Ms. Garvey says, “and he was the vice president at the time and he looked around and says ‘where are the Humphrey girls?”

Vice President Hubert Humphrey was determined to get some votes out of the situation, so he asked Ms. Garvey and her friends about their families, hoping for better news.

“He shook our hands and said ‘I know you’re not old enough to vote so I’m not too worried,’” Ms. Garvey explained. “How do your parents feel?”

Ms. Garvey would explain that her father was a huge Humphrey fan, but who came out next was what she really cared about. Robert Kennedy had seen Humphrey talking to the Kennedy Girls, and wasn’t going to let that happen. He was determined to make sure he would get as many people as possible to vote for him.

“And he comes out lickety-split, and he starts walking down the street,” she recalls, “shaking everybody’s hand as, you know, people walking downtown Omaha.”

Soon, Ms. Garvey and the other Kennedy Girls were chasing after Robert Kennedy as he made his way down the street, greeting everyone he could, trying to make a great impression.

Garvey recalls that Kennedy had a very great charisma about him.

“So we were at the head of this group of people who were following Bobby Kennedy as he was walking down the town,” Ms. Garvey tells with a smile, “and that kind of brush with history is kind of one of the things I love”.

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