When I was 11, I worked for the Kennedy Action Corps illustrating campaign posters that displayed the Peanuts characters, especially Linus and Snoopy, for presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy’s bid for the 1968 Oregon primary.

On May 26th of that year, my dad took the family out to see Bobby Kennedy where he was speaking at Hillsboro High School, as it was just too much of a circus in Portland. Many Oregon Catholics backed Kennedy.

After his speech in the auditorium, the senator shook hands and visited with the crowd out in front of the school. As my dad shook hands, he informed the candidate, “My son drew many of the posters for your campaign.” Kennedy asked my dad where his son was and my dad pointed to me and replied, “He's right here.”

Kennedy seemed surprised when he looked at me and saw a child. He stooped over and asked, “So you did this?” I shyly nodded yes to his question. “You're very good,” he told me as he thanked me and shook my hand.

I still have Bobby and Ethel Kennedy’s autographs.

Kennedy lost the Oregon primary to his challenger Sen. Eugene McCarthy, and left Oregon, the only state where he was defeated, perplexed by his loss.

Nine days later and shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, Kennedy made a rousing speech after learning that he had just won the California Democratic primary. My dad turned the television off and went to bed. Had he left it on for another half hour or so, he would have witnessed Kennedy’s assassination in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel where the senator had been shaking hands with workers.

The following day, Robert F. Kennedy died. He was 42 and left behind 10 children and a pregnant wife. My parents sent his widow, Ethel Kennedy, a condolence which Mrs. Kennedy acknowledged weeks later with a Mass and memorial card. I have kept those, too.

Van der Hout lives in Southeast Portland and attends St. Pius X Parish and Mount Angel Abbey.