Tom Glotzbach says he remembers how Americans felt energized by the youth, style, vigor and good taste brought to the Oval Office by President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie.
Glotzbach served the president as a cryptographer for what was then the White House Army Signal Corps until his assignment ended on Nov. 19, 1963. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, which was 55 years ago Thursday.
This week's History Guy video at CJOnline focuses on Glotzbach, 79, who lives in Topeka.
Glotzbach graduated in 1961 from Silver Lake High School before being drafted into the Army. He became a cryptographer after being interviewed for what was described only as a "special assignment."
He initially served in Germany before being shifted to work out of the president's Camp David retreat in western Maryland, where he wore civilian clothes and mainly worked out of building basements.
Glotzbach still keeps a scrapbook featuring documents and images from those days, which he's titled "My Time in Camelot."
The name refers to comparisons made between the shining moments of Kennedy's presidency and the English legends of Camelot, the home of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
Glotzbach told The Capital-Journal in 2013 that one fun part of his job was seeing the Kennedys and their children, Caroline and John Jr.
He said Caroline, who was accompanied by her little cousin, Maria Shriver, once asked him to help find her dog.
After finishing his assignment at Camp David, Glotzbach spent the next two days traveling home to Shawnee County.
He said he was sitting on the couch in his parents’ home on Nov. 22, 1963, when CBS-TV broadcaster Walter Cronkite broke in with the news that Kennedy had been shot while riding in a motorcade through Dallas. The president died soon afterward.
Glotzbach said learning of Kennedy's death was "pretty hard to take, because I'd just seen him not long before."
He had last seen the Kennedys together as a family on the last weekend of October 1963, when they attended Catholic Mass at a site where Glotzbach was on assignment in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Middleburg, Va.
Glotzbach said Kennedy's assassination brought a finality "to what had been for me a very special time. A time that could never be repeated."
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