From the spot where I had taken the photographs of Kennedy's motorcade, I ran two blocks to meet my enthusiastic chauffeur, who broke speed limits to get me to Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory where Kennedy had already arrived and was waiting to talk to the annual meeting of the Florida State Chamber of Commerce. I remember there were police and military armed with rifles walking back and forth on the catwalks of the armory, their piercing glances aimed at the crowd below. Security was tight but peoples movement was not impaired in any way. No searches, no metal detectors.

Photo: Tony Zappone
JFK prepares to speak at Tampa's Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory.

The presidential visit was the first time two competing Tampa television stations cooperated to share equipment and simulcast a major local event for public benefit. Equipment at that time was limited to the large and bulky mobile remote units the stations had, mostly to cover events like parades, Sunday church services and to do on-location commercials at business sites. They were almost never used for any kind of news events.

Photo: Tony Zappone

In that speech, Kennedy talked of the sacrifices he had asked of the business community in not dealing with the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. Oddly, he also broached the subject of inflation which would be an annoyance America would deal with for many years after his death.

Jim Couey (Tampa Chamber of Commerce president) engaged the President in a question and answer session after the speech, the questions having been submitted by members of the audience of some 2,500 people.

About half our audience is vitally interested in your political future, Mr. President, immediate and in the more distant future, Couey asked. Which half?, Kennedy replied. The audience broke out in laughter.

From the Armory, Kennedy went by motorcade south to Grand Central Avenue, west to Dale Mabry and south back to MacDill Air Force Base