On Oct. 22, 1960, in the midst of the 1960 presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Senator John F. Kennedy made three stops in Missouri. Fresh off his fourth and final debate the night before with then Vice-President Richard Nixon, Kennedy flew to St. Louis on Saturday morning the 22nd. After a campaign stop there, he got back on his plane headed to Joplin for a brief stopover and rally at the airport there later that afternoon.

On Oct. 22, 1960, in the midst of the 1960 presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Senator John F. Kennedy made three stops in Missouri. Fresh off his fourth and final debate the night before with then Vice-President Richard Nixon, Kennedy flew to St. Louis on Saturday morning the 22nd. After a campaign stop there, he got back on his plane headed to Joplin for a brief stopover and rally at the airport there later that afternoon.
An estimated crowd of 10,000 to 15, 000 people had gathered at the airport to await his arrival. Many had come from surrounding towns in Oklahoma and Kansas as well as Missouri, and they’d started gathering at 9 a.m. Two busloads had come from Springfield in chartered Greyhounds. Student delegations from Kansas State College at Pittsburg and from Joplin Junior College were on hand. Many of those in attendance carried placards in support of Kennedy. One of the sign carriers was Daisy Howe of Neck City, Missouri, whom I remember for her passionate letters supporting progressive causes, which were regularly published on the Joplin Globe editorial page clear into the mid and late 1990s.
Just minutes before Kennedy’s plane arrived, another plane landed at the airport carrying a Republican “Truth Squad.” A cheer went up at first before the crowd realized the identity of the group that was disembarking. When the cheers turned to boos, one of the Democratic dignitaries on the platform that had been erected in the airport field grabbed the microphone and told the crowd to go ahead and make the “Truth Squad” welcome because the “Lie Detector Squad” would be arriving soon.
When Kennedy’s plane touched down shortly afterward, it didn’t stop exactly where authorities had planned, and Joplin policeman and fireman hurriedly tried to cordon off the area between the plane and the platform, but to no avail. Kennedy stepped off the plane and waded right into the surging crowd, shaking hands and signing autographs as he made his way to the makeshift stage. Chants of “We want Jack” went up among the throng of Democratic supporters.
The Joplin area was still a mining district in 1960, and shortly after Kennedy began his speech, mindful of where he was, the candidate made a special appeal to the miners of the region, saying they didn’t get paid enough for the hard work they did. A group of miners from the Miami, Oklahoma, area were among the crowd, and one of them offered Kennedy a hard hat. He tried it on, but it didn’t fit.
Near the end of his remarks, in another appeal to regional pride, Kennedy said, “I come here to Joplin, here to Missouri, here in this part of the central United States. About two weeks ago up in Boston, my own hometown, Mr. Nixon said I was just another Truman. I said I regarded that as a compliment because he was just another Dewey.” Applause and laughter broke out among the audience.
Then, still playing on the Missouri theme, Kennedy closed by asking the crowd to “Show Me” on Election Day by voting to make him the next president of the United States.            

Larry Wood writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.