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Reaction in Massachusetts is shock, sadness

By Tina Cassidy, Globe Staff, and Rachel Mullin, Globe Correspondent, 07/18/99

"But I feel bad for Caroline. She's the only one left."

Tourist from Baltimore

Jack MacMillan, a tourist from Minneapolis, looked with awe and sadness over the relics at the John F. Kennedy Library Museum in Dorchester before stepping out into the piercing sun and experiencing firsthand another shocking moment in the family's history.

TV crews jammed the parking lot of the water's-edge museum, reporting the disappearance of JFK's son -- the one pictured inside wearing short pants and saluting his father's casket.

"Wow. We haven't ... we just got off the plane and came here," said MacMillan, who heard the news outside. "It is weird. It's awful...(we were) just looking at the pictures in there of John F. Kennedy and John in the Oval Office."

Albert Fisher of New Jersey said it was "ironic" he decided to visit the museum the day the plane was reported missing. "We just walked out. We just heard," Fisher said. "We don't usually watch much news on vacation, but we were on vacation when (Princess) Diana died too."

Fisher's mother-in-law, Florence Seeney, said she was "dumbfounded" to see the TV crews in the library parking lot.

"I didn't know if it was a gimmick or something," Seeney said.

Brenda Anderson of Houston said her daughter Ashley was a history buff who was intrigued by the Kennedy assassination.

"I had just taken her to Chappaquidick," she said. "She had never heard of it, and it's one of those things I grew up with. The next morning, we were here."

As for JFK Jr.'s wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, who also on the plane with her sister Lauren, Anderson said: "Here, everybody thought she was the luckiest girl in America. But then, here it is, she's dying with him."

Prominent friends of the Kennedy family also expressed their support.

"Like everyone, I'm stunned. I'm praying and hoping for a good outcome for the family," said Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry.

Paul G. Kirk Jr., a close friend of the Kennedys, paid a visit to the Hyannisport compound to offer his support and help for the family.

"It's another Kennedy much too young and it's another young person with hope and promise whose life is dashed," Kirk said softly. "His dad used to say life can be unfair. But this is one of those times when you almost think it asks too much."

He paused.

"When you think about his father, that generation, three sons, and a daughter who died too young ... You move along to this generation, and it's Michael and David and Robert Kennedy. And now this," Kirk said. "And you have to think about the Bessettes, their two daughters lost and all that means to that family, and obviously Caroline, John's sister."

Faith is about all the family has left, Kirk said.

Back at the musuem, many were deeply saddened for Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.

"Caroline is without her father and mother, and now her brother," said one woman who declined to give her name. "It's almost like a curse, they lost so many people."

Susan Wancowicz of Baltimore said she always remembers where she is when a Kennedy is lost.

"But I feel bad for Caroline. She's the only one left."


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