New Straits Times - - World -

BOS­TON: Years be­fore he cap­tained the tor­pedo boat PT109, ran for of­fice or set the United States on a path to put a man on the moon, pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy was a troublesome teen whose hi­jinks nearly got him kicked out of his pres­ti­gious board­ing school.

The scion of a wealthy fam­ily here, Kennedy spent his mid­teens at Con­necti­cut’s elite Choate Rose­mary Hall, where he ex­celled at his­tory and lit­er­a­ture, but in­fu­ri­ated the school’s head­mas­ter by or­gan­is­ing pranks as a mem­ber of an un­of­fi­cial school club known as “The Muck­ers”.

Those de­tails of the early life of the 35th pres­i­dent, whose term was cut short by an as­sas­sin’s bul­let in Dal­las in 1963, emerge in a new ex­hibit at John F. Kennedy Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and Mu­seum here, timed to com­mem­o­rate the 100th an­niver­sary of his birth on May 29, 1917.

Pages from his high school scrap­book show he loved an­cient his­tory, mu­sic and foot­ball, as well as “beef­ing”, slang for com­plain­ing or ar­gu­ing.

“Got shot at to­day for call­ing an old farmer a bad name,” reads an en­try writ­ten by a 17year-old Kennedy on Oct 19, 1934. “Al­most got hit.”

The scrap­book pages are among 40 Kennedy relics never be­fore pub­licly ex­hib­ited, with notes ex­tend­ing to his years at Har­vard Univer­sity and the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics, be­fore his World War 2 ser­vice aboard tor­pedo boats and well be­fore his first suc­cess­ful run for Congress in 1947.

Kennedy went on to serve in the Se­nate be­fore be­ing elected pres­i­dent in 1960.

Kennedy and his prankster friends went head-to-head with Choate’s head­mas­ter, Ge­orge St John, in his years at the school. The “Muck­ers” club took its name from a speech in which St John ex­co­ri­ated pranksters, us­ing the la­bel ap­plied to Ir­ish im­mi­grants whose only work was shov­el­ing up horse ma­nure.

The group took the idea and ran with it, hatch­ing a plot to pile horse ma­nure in the school gym­na­sium.

“Ge­orge St John got wind of it and even though the prank never was ac­tu­alised, it was enough that they would even con­sider such a thing, so he threat­ened to ex­pel them all,” but even­tu­ally re­lented, said Judy Don­ald, the school’s ar­chiv­ist.

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