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19680514 -- Robert F. Kennedy

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and his wife Ethel shook dozens of hands and acknowledged greetings from a noisy crowd of Davenporters just prior to giving a rally speech at West Second and Main Streets. Signs held by spectators labeled the candidate as "Mr. President" and the "Man for Iowans." Published Tuesday, May 14, 1968, page 1. (Photo by Harry Boll/Times-Democrat)

Harry Boll, Quad-City Times file photo

Q. Did Bobby Kennedy campaign in the Quad-Cities in 1968? -- Reader

A. Yes, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, D-New York, was in Davenport on Tuesday, May 14, 1968. The headline in the Times-Democrat read, "Hi, Bobby! ... Hi, Ethel!" The article by Times-Democrat reporter Jim Eberle said, "Sen. Robert Kennedy told noisy Davenport residents today the nation must solve its problems "not just in our cities, nor just in Davenport, but in our rural areas and farms as well."

Another article with the headline, "Senator Traces Footsteps Of JFK" written by Mike Lawrence said, "Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York, seeking the highest office which the Democratic party can bestow upon him in this election year, traced the footsteps of his brother today in Davenport to the cheers of crowds variously estimated at from 6,000 to 10,000."

Lawrence described the scene in Davenport, "People -- young and old, male and female, Negro and white -- pressed forward to shake the hands of Kennedy and his wife, Ethel."

Kennedy arrived that morning at Davenport Municipal Airport. "A bright sun danced in and out of the clouds as a crowd began to gather this morning at Davenport Municipal Airport," Lawrence wrote. "When Kennedy's prop-jet landed, the sun broke through for good."

"As soon as he emerged from the plane, youngsters began shrieking," Lawrence wrote. "A gust of wind caught hold of his full head of hair and brought more screams."

"About 350 persons, including 40 girls from the Clinton Jobs Corps Center, welcomed him at the airport. They were restrained by gates, but they pressed forward to shake -- and even kiss -- his hands," Lawrence wrote.

To read more about Senator Robert Kennedy's visit to the Quad-Cities or view a photo gallery, visit

Q. The new railroad spur to Davenport's Industrial Park seems to not get any use. With all the new industry coming into the industrial park area, is any industry really using the railroad spur to bring in or send out products? Can it really be worth the effort to maintain? – Donald

A. We contacted the City of Davenport regarding your question. Susanne Knutsen, Davenport economic development manager, responded:

"This is well timed question and the answer is yes. Sterilite Corporation has just begun operations and is using the short line to bring in all of their raw materials for production of household plastic goods. The City's short line and transload facility operator, Savage Industries, is also contracting with other companies and suppliers throughout the region to utilize the transload facility as a hub for train to truck operations. This is a good time to remind the public to be aware of all railroad crossings in Davenport. Roads like Kimberly and 53rd Street will see increased rail traffic as the number of trains going in and out the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center picks up."

Ask the Times appears on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can call 563-333-2632, email or write Ask the Times, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801.