WISBECH: Barack Obama's American brings back memories for Fenland solicitor

PUBLISHED: 14:50 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 08:45 02 June 2010

Richard Barr

Richard Barr

FORTY six years ago the Barr family was busy helping, in its own small way, to achieve upheaval in the United States political system. The election of Barack Obama as American President brought memories flooding back for Fenland solicitor

FORTY six years ago the Barr family was busy helping, in its own small way, to achieve upheaval in the United States political system.

The election of Barack Obama as American President brought memories flooding back for Fenland solicitor Richard Barr.

Richard's mother, Marjorie, came from Nebraska and was the village doctor in Elm for many years, his father, David, was a well-known solicitor in Wisbech and a local writer.

Richard, a solicitor with lawn firm Fraser Dawbarns, said: "My brother and I, who were still teenagers, entered into the John F Kennedy for President Campaign with great enthusiasm to the bewilderment of the people of the Fens.

"We organised campaign letter headings, plastered Kennedy stickers on car bumpers and wore Kennedy badges. We even received a personal letter signed by John Kennedy thanking us for the 'pockets of support' in Cambridgeshire."

Richard said he and his brother, felt pride at being on the winning side and were looking forward to the changes which would be a departure from the eight years of rule of President Eisenhower.

He remembers vividly November 22 1963. Richard said: "The news broke that evening. I was a pupil at Wisbech Grammar School and was doing my homework. A local doctor arrived at the house while my parents were at a political meeting in Elm Village Hall being addressed by Sir Harry Legge-Bourke MP. My brother was watching a film at the Empire cinema in Wisbech."

The doctor asked if they had heard that Kennedy had been shot. Richard said: "In the short years of his presidency we had grown fond of this man. He did indeed seem to spell hope not only for the USA but for the world. That news brought the whole family together in half an hour. The film was interrupted with the news and my brother raced home on his bike. The political meeting broke up and I abandoned my homework.

"Our family was stunned as if we had suffered a personal bereavement. For days we went around with long faces, and felt a real sense of loss. It was not just any president who had been assassinated - it was OUR president who had promised so much."

Richard says he is excited that Barack Obama is to be the new president. He said: "I hope the American nation will not let us down and destroy him when he starts to carry out his promises. I do not want to ever remember the day when, either in reality or metaphorically, another American president is shot down in his prime.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Wisbech Standard. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Wisbech Standard