Paul Haney combined his fascinations with news reporting and technology when he joined NASA three months after it was formed. Between 1958 and 1969, he served in various public information posts at Cape Canaveral in Florida and the Manned Spaceflight Center in Houston.
I don't know what I was doing the day [President John] Kennedy was inaugurated, but I remember it snowed like hell the night before. There were 20 inches of snow in town, and it was a real struggle to get the snow shoveled into the river. Typical Kennedy, he showed up in street clothes! Robert Frost was there reading a poem, and the lectern caught on fire [during the invocation]. It was curious, the tenor of the town. You loved Ike [President Eisenhower] because he was a grandfather figure. He was a nice, gray-sky kind of a person. What a different feeling it was, all of a sudden, to have this young President Kennedy. He was in his early forties. He and Jackie were having babies. Washington looks at itself in terms of the personality of the President. It's always been that way and always will be, I suspect.
To Kennedy, space was like the Holy Grail. Twenty days after Shepard flew [America's first, suborbital spaceflight], Kennedy went before a joint session of Congress and proposed the Apollo program. I don't think there were but two or three people in NASA who knew what he was going to say. We thought he was going to propose a beefed-up Mercury program and perhaps go along with what we called "the two-man Mercury," which became Gemini. But we were, for the most part, thunderstruck at this idea. He said the nation should land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth before this decade was out. That was May 25, 1961, and we had flown only the first of six manned Mercury flights.