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Humbled by inexperience, Kennedy keeps on trucking

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January 24, 2008

It made for the perfect photo op. There was a well-coiffed Kennedy at the wheel of a large truck, on a mission to deliver charity.

The only hitch: Joseph P. Kennedy II, the shaggy former congressman from Brighton who runs Citizens Energy Corp., could not seem to get the 2,500-gallon truck full of home-heating oil to move forward.

As he prepared for a heroic entrance to a press conference yesterday in Roxbury, Kennedy wrestled with the stick shift while the large Ford rolled in the wrong direction, backward. The truck seemed more in danger of an accident than helping him accomplish his mission of delivering $800 worth of oil to an elderly woman living a few blocks away.

"Well, that was pretty bad," Kennedy said, struggling to engage the clutch.

With help from Wayne Patterson, the truck's usual driver, Kennedy finally got the tanker moving ahead.

When he reached the scrum of photographers outside Queenie Williamson's home, Kennedy hit the brakes in the middle of Fairland Street. "We're stopping right here," he announced before alighting among the photographers.

Patterson forgave Kennedy for roughing up his truck. "He just needs a little more experience," he explained.

A few minutes later, as Kennedy talked about the need to help folks heat their homes, a line of cars idled behind the truck, some driving on the sidewalk to pass.

Patterson eventually had to move the truck.

DAVID ABEL

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