A Brief Glimpse of John F. Kennedy's Fascinating Childhood

John F. Kennedy's Childhood
It is interesting to read about the life stories of eminent people and get to know about the early years of their life and career. For a glimpse of John F. Kennedy's childhood, read on.
Historyplex Staff
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
John F. Kennedy was the thirty-fifth president of the United States. He was the first US President born in the twentieth century. He served for a period of three years starting in 1961 until 1963, when he was assassinated. Let us take a look at the founding years of his life. Here's introducing you to one of the greatest American leaders - John F. Kennedy.
John F. Kennedy's Childhood Years

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) was born on May 29, 1917 at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was the second son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald. His elder brother's name was Joe. He had eight siblings, three brothers and five sisters. Rose's father, John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald was a political figure in Boston (the Mayor of Boston). JFK was given his grandfather's name. During childhood, everyone called him Jack. He spent the first ten years of his life in the town where he was born.
As a kid, John wasn't healthy. He suffered from chickenpox, measles and whooping cough. Scarlet fever caught him just before he would turn three. He took a month to recover from this life-threatening disease.
At the age of three, the Kennedys moved to a new 12-room house just outside Boston, where John's father worked towards becoming a successful businessman. John was a student of the Edward Devotion School of Brookline, till the beginning of 3rd grade. In the 4th grade he attended the Dexter School. In 1927, he moved to the New York City. In 1929, he moved to Bronxville in New York. There he was a member of the Scout Troop 2. For completing 8th grade, Kennedy joined a Roman Catholic boarding school in Connecticut. Due to illness, he had to withdraw from this school. The Kennedys maintained two homes; a winter home in Florida and a summer home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. During his years of schooling, John with his family, used to alternate between these homes for his summer and winter vacations. For completing his 9th grade, he was admitted to the Choate School. At this school, John had many friends, he enjoyed playing basketball, football and tennis. He loved to read and took special interest in subjects like History and English. He was an average student. After completing his 12th grade, he was again struck by illness.
Some of the less known memories of Kennedy's childhood can be found treasured on the The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum website. During the Kennedys' stay in the summer home, John and his siblings used to enjoy playing, sailing and swimming. John and his elder brother Joe used to engage in competitive sports. Their father always encouraged them. His father Joseph was ambitious and had big dreams about his children. John and Joe used to race, fight and play. Joe being stronger and two years older than John, used to be the winner every time. The family expected Joe to make it big in life. Joe had expressed his ambition to be the US President.
After graduating from Choate in 1935, John entered Harvard College. During his college years, he toured to many countries, thereby gaining knowledge and experience of the world outside the four walls of college. He obtained an international affairs degree from Harvard. Soon after, he had a book in his name. This best-selling book of his was called, Why England Slept. Originally, it was a thesis on 'why Great Britain was not prepared for a war against Germany' which John had written when he was a senior at Harvard.
After graduating, John joined the Navy. It was during his career in the Navy as Lieutenant, that John's courage and leadership skills came to light. He lost his brother Joe early in life. Joe was a flyer and was killed in a plane accident in Europe. John's father convinced him to enter politics. John's political career began in 1946. He was elected to the US Senate in 1952 and as President of the United States in 1960.
Quick Facts about John F. Kennedy
  • John's nicknames were Jack and JFK.
  • He came from a well-to-do family.
  • He was a frail and sickly child.
  • When afflicted with scarlet fever, his chances of survival were less. But he did recover from the illness.
  • Once while playing, John ruptured his spinal disc. The back problem stayed with him for the rest of his life.
  • John had a small appetite.
  • He never earned good grades in school.
  • He had considered becoming a writer or teacher.
  • He won the Pulitzer Prize for his book called Profiles of Courage.
  • If not for his father's convincing and if not for his brother Joe's death, John may not have entered politics at all.
  • John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States. He was the youngest to be elected to the post and the only Catholic president.
  • There are some striking similarities between the deaths of JFK and Abraham Lincoln, two of the most prominent US Presidents. Both the presidents were assassinated on a Friday. Both JFK and Lincoln were shot in the head. And in both cases, the assassins were Southeners.
  • JFK was the only President who was survived by his parents.

After looking at the childhood years of JFK, you realize that John was never a bright student. But he was hardworking. He was not very ambitious. But he had great determination. And the one thing he was blessed with, was an ambitious father who had great expectations from his children but never really forced his aspirations on them. He gave them freedom, he made them feel strong. Backed by his family's support and armed with a determination to make it big, John F. Kennedy went on to become the US President. Even today, he is one of the most admired men in the country.