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(NEWS CENTER) -- The violent end of the Kennedy Administration tends to cloud the way people view those years. We talk with some prominent Mainers who recall a time of optimism and idealism.

Sen. Angus King was a high school student in Virginia when John F. Kennedy was elected president. He says the country was electrified.

"There was a sort of a feeling of loss of energy, and Kennedy just absolutely ignited that energy in the country. And it's impossible to underestimate."

King says he was one of the many Americans who answered JFK's call to public service.

"He made it cool. He made it something people felt worthwhile, and felt was an honorable calling. "

Portland attorney Harold Pachios was on a Navy ship the night of the 1960 election. After a long night tracking the returns in the radio room, he had made a decision. He says "At that point I said to myself I want to go to Washington when I get out of the Navy and be part of this administration."

Pachios worked at The Peace Corps with Kennedy's brother-in-law Sargent Shriver. Pachios says"For me, it was a wonderful opportunity because the Peace Corps was the hottest place at the time, that was the coolest place-- it was both at the same time! it really was wonderful." He recalls the Kennedy years as the most idealistic time in this nation in his lifetime.

Former Sen. George Mitchell was a young lawyer working at the Justice Department when Kennedy administration began. That meant his boss was the president's brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy- though he says he did not know either Kennedy well. But he does recall the very start of the new administration.

"The memory I have of President Kennedy first is that there was a tremendous snowstorm on the night before his inauguration. My car broke down and I had to walk about 4 miles to get to my apartment in a raging snowstorm."

Noel Paul Stookey has lived in Maine for decades, but in the early 1960's he was traveling the nation and the world as part of the popular folk group Peter, Paul and Mary. Stookey recalls playing a concert for the president. He says Kennedy came and spoke to each of the performers afterward.

"President Kennedy came to Peter and I, and he said 'I noticed that when you sang one of the songs the people burst into applause.' And so Peter said, yeah that was "If I HadA Hammer" and he said 'that was a single.You see a single is a small record with a large hole in the middle.' The president reached out and said, 'no I understand, I just don't get a chance to listen to the radio driving to work anymore.'"