Kennedy artifacts going to N.Y. auction

This Just In...

January 28, 1998|By DAN RODRICKS

There's another big auction of Kennedy stuff brewing in New York and this time many of the items are from Robert White, the master collector from Catonsville who worked long and hard to build one of the largest private collections of JFK artifacts anywhere. White said for years he wouldn't sell his Camelot artifacts, but now he has agreed to offer at least some of them to bidders at a two-day auction scheduled for mid-March.

White is the major contributor to the auction, which will feature more than 500 items, many of them personal possessions of JFK. White's items include some things he acquired through a bequest of Evelyn Lincoln, the late president's longtime personal secretary whom White befriended. Kennedy family loyalists have challenged the auction, suggesting Lincoln, who died in 1995, might not have been the rightful owner of some items slated for sale.

Among items White has offered for bid: a silver Tiffany calendar, a gift from the president to Lincoln commemorating the Cuban missile crisis; a stereo set with a phonograph and radio that traveled with Kennedy whenever he went abroad; a tweed hat given to the president on a trip to Ireland; a JFK wristwatch; a black Hermes alligator briefcase Kennedy carried from the 1950s till the end of his life, and the sunglasses he wore to Dallas. White is also selling a pillbox hat worn by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis while she was first lady.

For years, White kept his growing Kennedy collection in the clean, cool, dry basement of his mother's home in Catonsville. From time to time, he would give private tours, frequently expressing the desire to make his impressive collection more accessible to the public. A couple of years ago, White was involved in talks about a possible JFK museum in Annapolis. The proposal was not successful, but White told the Washington Post this month he hopes to use some of the proceeds from the March auction as seed money for such a museum.

As public interest in things Kennedy heated up, White became more visible, giving interviews and presenting his increasingly valuable collection to millions of television viewers. "Dateline NBC" featured him last year and recently reported on his decision to sell some of his collection. White did not give "Dateline" an interview this time. The outgoing message on his telephone answering machine refers calls to Guernsey's, the New York house handling the sale. The auction is slated for March 18 and 19.

Road trip to MCI Center

To tell the truth: I wouldn't have gone to the MCI Center on Sunday afternoon if the tickets hadn't been half price. I mean, $40 a pop to watch ice hockey from the fourth floor? I love the sport - I have a soft spot in my heart for the Boston Bruins - but with $40 I could buy "NHL '98" for my kid's Sony PlayStation and have a much better view of the game, in the comfort of my own home, Doritos at the ready.

The only ice-skating I'd pay $40 to watch would have to feature Tonya Harding in black leather.

So, that's the truth - Abe Pollin got my money because his Caps offered me seats through the mail for only $20 each. (Apparently, a lot of other hockey fans went for the offer. The upper deck was full, and attendance at the 2 p.m. game on Super Bowl Sunday was 19,320.)

But I also went because I was curious about the new arena in downtown Washington. So we went - six of us by car from Baltimore, straight down Baltimore-Washington Parkway to New York Avenue to Seventh Street and down to the arena. The drive took 50 minutes. Parking was no bargain at $15 - maybe next time we'll take the Metro from Greenbelt - but it put us right by the arena, on the Chinatown side. We walked in the place, took an elevator to the fourth floor, walked about 100 feet to our seats.

The angle of the seating is steep, friends. At first, the fourth floor might remind some of you of the upper deck at Memorial Stadium.

But I have to say it: The seats were excellent, high above a corner of the ice, just to the left of a goal. We could see all the action from there, even heard a lot of it. The architecture of the place is simple and clean, with seats rising and angling away from the ice, but not so sharply to impair your perspective or diminish your view of things.

Except for an odd one in our row that seemed to be custom-built for Celine Dion, the seats were roomy and comfortable.

The restroom traffic was average. Concessions were accessible. The big video screen was helpful but not obnoxious.

The preproduced videos were smart, funny and entertaining. The Bruins were slow and sloppy. The Caps' backup goalie had 34 saves and his team won, 4-1. The fourth Caps goal meant that, in addition to the ice-scraper parting gift, everyone got a coupon for a Wendy's junior cheeseburger. What's not to like?

Total bill for three adults and three kids (including admission, parking, a Papa John's pizza split four ways, two soft pretzels, two soft drinks and two beers): $140.

Total elapsed time of six restroom runs: 13 minutes.

Running time of return trip to Baltimore: About one hour.

Which got us all home just in time for the Super Bowl kickoff.

Contact Dan Rodricks by e-mail at TJIDAN aol.com, or by voic mail at 410-332-6166. Letters may be sent to This Just In, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

Pub Date: 1/28/98

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