McGee: Bar of soap not exactly heirloom

It’s been 50 years since President Kennedy was assassinated.

He had been to Honolulu just months before. He stayed at the hotel where my father worked.

I didn’t get to see The President that June of 1963. I was a kid playing on the beach.

There were photos though, and a curio my dad kept from that visit: The bar of soap the president used.

It was a plain ol’ bar of hotel soap that was wrapped in transparent tape with a typewritten piece of paper inside that read: “THIS BAR OF SOAP WAS USED BY PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY DURING HIS STAY AT THE HILTON HAWAIIAN VILLAGE JUNE 9-10, 1963.”

When my dad passed away, mom decided to sell the old home place.

“See if there are any things you want,” she said pointing to boxes of my dad’s stuff.

Tucked away in one box was the bar of soap from 1963.

I kept that memento for a few years. Then came a time I had to cut down on my things. I had a bunch of antiques from the old home place that I packed up and took to a local antique dealer.

We got down to trading memories for cash.

“Here,” I said holding the yellowed keepsake. “President Kennedy washed his hands with this bar of soap in 1963.”

The dealer looked at me, slowly took the bar of soap, turned it around and around in his hand.

“Really,” he said smiling. His tone of voice said, “I don’t believe you.”

“He did, really,” I said.

“Come on, buddy,” he started to hand it back to me. “No documentation, no verification.”

“But my dad kept it for years,” I said. “It’s the real thing.”

We stared at each other.

“I’ll give you two bucks,” he said. “That’s all.”

I looked at the guy in the eyes. I looked at the bar of soap.

“Oh, all right,” I said.

The bar of soap probably meant more to my dad anyway.

Grant McGee is a long-time broadcaster and former truck driver who rides bicycles and likes to talk about his many adventures on the road of life. Contact him through his blog at:

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