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JFK at Sheepshead Bay

SHEEPSHEAD BAY — When one remembers John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, chances are they think of a handsome young man sailing off the waters of Hyannis Port…not Sheepshead Bay. But he did in fact spend time in Brooklyn during his 1960 campaign swing during his heated battle for the presidency with then-Vice President Richard Nixon.

Not only did he hold rallies at Utica Avenue and Eastern Parkway on Oct. 20 and at Bay Parkway and 86th Street in Bensonhurst on Oct. 27, but he was also inspired to paint watercolors of Sheepshead Bay.

Kennedy was an avid sailor who enjoyed painting seascapes. Two paintings, one entitled “Sheepshead Bay, N.Y.” and another of sailboats in the bay at sunset called “Marine Bridge from Sheepshead Bay, NY.,” both signed by JFK, are currently being auctioned along with thousands of other items of memorabilia by Ronnie Paloger who owns the collection. The auction runs until Thursday, Jan. 23.

Sen. John F. Kennedy in 1960 during his campaign as the Democratic nominee for president. Photo: The Associated Press

Paloger bought the artworks the last time they were offered for sale at “The Legends Auction” held by Amesbury, Massachusetts-based John McInnis Auctioneers, on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 – the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in Dallas.

According to Paloger, Kennedy gave both paintings as gifts to a Beverly Hills socialite who had contributed to his presidential campaign.

At the Utica Avenue campaign stop, Kennedy stressed that he was standing where Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman had stood before him. In Bensonhurst, he made it clear that he was following in the footsteps of Roosevelt.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for coming out here and showing that we believe in the Democratic Party and in progress,” said Kennedy according to a transcript from the JFK Presidential Library.

“I stand here tonight where Franklin Roosevelt stood when he caused this country to move forward in the 1930s, and I call upon you to join us in moving this state and country forward in the 1960s,” he went on. “The next president of the United States will carry New York. I come here tonight to the heart of a great Democratic section of old Brooklyn and ask your help.”

He ended his speech by asking for recommendations for a good local restaurant. “Now, if you can tell us where there is some place to eat, we will go and eat,” he added.

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