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Union Oyster House preserves memory of JFK

Posted by Roy Greene  November 22, 2013 11:58 AM

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Photo from Union Oyster House

By Ashley Paul, BU News Service

Tucked away in the corner of the upper level of the Union Oyster House near Quincy Market is a booth that was once one of the most private hideaways, despite the fact that the restaurant lies in the heart of the city. Known as the “Kennedy Booth,” it was former President John F. Kennedy’s favorite Sunday afternoon retreat.

“When President Kennedy was a senator, he would come on Sunday afternoons and stay for about three hours and order lobster stew. He would bring about five newspapers and read the whole time,” said Pattie Burke, the restaurant manager.

The booth is labeled with a plaque and an engraved image of Kennedy. Often people come to the restaurant asking to sit there, but others are surprised to discover an unfamiliar piece of history.

“I see people trace the plaque and a lot of times people are sitting there having dinner and other people go by and look at it and take pictures of it. Sometimes I feel bad because the poor things are trying to eat their dinner, but it really is all a part of the experience,” Burke says.

The booth was dedicated to Kennedy after he became president of the United States, and since his assassination, other members of the Kennedy family continue to come back and dine in that booth in his honor.

“When Ted Kennedy was alive, he always sat in this booth. After Ted passed away, the family all came here during the break time between the wakes. Robert Kennedy and Ethel used to come here a lot too,” Burke said.

November 22 marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, and the restaurant plans, just as they do every year, to honor their former weekly visitor.

“We put a white rose on the table and don’t use it for the day,” Burke said.

Boston University News Service is produced by students in the college's journalism program.

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