El Paso man shares experience meeting President Kennedy

"Lefty" Chavez
Friday, November 1, 2013 - 10:44pm

El Paso Boy's and Girl's Club invites him as guest speaker at event honoring President Kennedy on Saturday

The month of November marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.

The El Paso Boy's and Girl's Club is hosting a film fest on Saturday, November 2nd, 2013 in President Kennedy's honor, and the event will feature a special guest speaker, who once met the president in the oval office.

"Meeting the President in the White House, in the Oval Office is just extraordinary. You don't really know how to behave," said Lefty Chavez.

Chavez was just 17 years old when he met someone most teens his age would never even get a glimpse of in person.

"He was a terrific man. I've always been an admirer of him as a person and as the leader of our country," said Chavez.

It was an experience of a lifetime, made possible by the then El Paso Boy's Club.

In 1963, Chavez, who was a member of the organization, won a national contest and was named 'Boy of the Year.'

His prize was a trip to Washington D.C. to meet President Kennedy, who personally presented him with the award in the Oval Office.

"Very friendly, not at all reserved, asking questions that I could answer easily," said Chavez of the former President.

Young Chavez gave President Kennedy a gift during their meeting - a branding iron with his name on it.

And the president gave him a gift in return - something he would cherish to this day.
"He reached into his tie and he pulled out a tie clasp that is a PT-109 - the PT-109 that he's famous for and he took it off his tie and he gave it to me and I've treasured it all my life," said Chavez.

During his trip, Chavez also met J. Edgar Hoover and Lyndon B. Johnson.

He also traveled to New York City, where his adventures continued.

"In New York, we were on the Johnny Carson Show and we met former President Herbert Hoover," said Chavez.

But it was his meeting with President Kennedy that was perhaps the most surreal.

Chavez said it was only about 5 or 10 minutes, but 5 or 10 minutes he would never forget.

The El Paso Boy's and Girl's Club Saturday film fest will be held from noon to 5:00pm at the International Museum of Art's Auditorium at 1211 Montana Avenue.

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