Boston, Massachusetts (JFK+50) It seems like yesterday. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of our lives. We didn’t have the opportunity to meet President Kennedy, but meeting his long-time pal and assistant, David F. Powers*, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
We planned a week-long visit to Boston in the summer of 1986. I wrote a letter to Mr. Powers telling him of our plans to come to the JFK Library and our desire to meet him in person. He replied to my letter on June 21st. Dave wrote…
“I am planning my vacation around the middle of July, but I am sure you and your wife will enjoy your visit to the Kennedy Library, and you might inquire downstairs to find out if I happen to be here — in which case I will be happy to say hello.”
So we made our first trip to Boston not really knowing if we would get to see Mr. Powers. When we arrived at the Library on July 21, 1986, we followed Dave’s instructions and were given passes and put on an elevator to the 6th floor.
Mr. Powers’ secretary ushered us into Dave’s office. She said he would be with us in a few minutes. The first thing I noticed was a rocking chair right in front of Dave’s desk. I thought, ‘Could this be one of JFK’s rockers?’ Oh my, I wanted to sit in it so bad, but could not bring myself to do so. Suddenly, Dave walked through the door with a wide beaming smile and greeted us. He turned to my wife and said, “Beverly, please sit down in President Kennedy’s rocker.”
She did….and for the whole visit!
It was quickly obvious why Dave was such a good friend to JFK. He was so charming and down to earth….like talking to someone you had known all your life. I’m certain he made every visitor who came into that office feel the same way.
We visited with Mr. Powers for almost an hour. He was so generous with his time. As the visit neared the end, he signed a copy of his book for us, and when he learned that we bought it downstairs in the gift shop, he apologized that it cost so much. He also signed some JFK booklets and magazines and gave us a large color presidential portrait of President Kennedy.
As we departed, Dave urged us to visit the Ye Old Oyster House and ask to sit in the JFK Booth (which we did), and then his secretary showed us into the private suite where the Kennedy family gathered when they visited the library. It had a wonderful view of Boston Harbor. As I looked in from the open door, I saw a familiar sight….a large world globe that I had seen in pictures of the Oval Office. I asked if I might go over and touch it. I did.
My only regret about the visit is that we didn’t get our picture made with Dave. I had a Minolta SRT-101 camera with me, but it did not have a flash. We did get some pictures outside the library.
After our tour of the library, we purchased many items in the gift shop including a mug which replicated the inscription on the silver mug JFK gave to Dave Powers on his birthday, April 25, 1962. The inscription reads…
“There are 3 things which are real: God, Human Folly, and Laughter. The first two are beyond human comprehension, so we must do what we can with the third.”
The words are from The Ramayana by Aubrey Mennen.
*David Francis Powers (1912-1998) was born in the Charlestown section of Boston, MA. He served in the US Army Air Force in WWII & joined JFK’s campaign for Congress in 1946. DFP was Special Assistant to the President & Assistant Appointment’s Secretary in the Kennedy White House. He served as Museum Curator at the JFK Library from 1964 to 1994.