Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

He Lost 'Family' with Kennedy's Assassination

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

He Lost 'Family' with Kennedy's Assassination

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union columnist

Blaine Price stood in his den, watching the tape.

It was shot 40 years ago. September 1963. A fall weekend in New England. It has no sound. Just images with that slight stutter of 8 mm film. So Price narrates, giving details about the 92-foot boat and the people on it -- not that you really need help identifying some faces in the tape, or in the album on the table, or in the photos on the wall of this house near Avondale.

There is John F. Kennedy, relaxing in a deck chair. There is Jackie, flashing a smile. There are John Jr. and Caroline, playing a game. And there is Price, putting away John John's toy sailboat, saluting the president, helping the first lady off the boat.

"Right there," he says, pointing at the screen. "Who else got to hold her hand?"

As chief in charge of the Honey Fitz -- the name of the presidential yacht during the Kennedy years -- Price did a lot of little things that grow larger with each passing anniversary.

He saw Kennedy at play. And he has stories. Not the kind you expect, though. No tales of Marilyn sneaking on board. No hints of Kennedy dealing with back pain, other than the ladder, which was tilted 15 degrees to make it easier for him to get into the water.

"He loved the water," he said.

Price, 75, starts talking. About Kennedy swimming with his kids. About the president noticing every little detail about the boat. About his favorite food (hot dogs). About his banter with the six-man crew. About the chilly day when he had them change from white uniforms to blues -- which, once they docked, led to a whole city of sailors frantically changing from whites to blues.

Price smiles, then recalls another outing, talking on the radio to someone on land, making plans for a cookout that night, and hearing someone beside him clear his throat. …

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