Illinois man still has Nixon's sandwich after 47 years

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Tue, 2008-02-12 12:31.

Sullivan, Ill. - Steve Jenne's half-eaten sandwich is a story that seems like it will never go away.

Of course, it is no ordinary sandwich.

In 1960, Jenne was a 14-year-old boy given a big responsibility.

The Sullivan High School student was a member of the Boy Scouts and was one of the guards around the picnic table of then-Vice President Richard Nixon as he ate lunch in Wyman Park.

The mere fact that a vice president and presidential candidate would come to a town the size of Sullivan seemed impossible to Jenne.

The local politicians invited both presidential candidates, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, to come to Sullivan for a debate. Much to Jenne's surprise, Nixon accepted the offer.

"What chance did Sullivan have of getting Kennedy and Nixon here?" Wyman said.

In honor of the arrival of a distinguished politician to Sullivan, some bison bred just outside of town were slaughtered so buffalo sandwiches could be served. On the day of Nixon's arrival, Sept. 22, 1960, Sullivan was overwhelmed by 17,000 people who came to see Nixon speak at Wyman park.

Before his speech at the baseball diamond, Nixon sat down at a picnic bench to eat his buffalo sandwich, with Jenne standing directly behind him, serving in his role of lunchtime guard. Nixon ate about half the sandwich and made comments about how much he liked it before getting up to give his speech.

When Nixon went to the ball diamond to speak, the entire crowd followed after him, except Jenne.

"Being the good Boy Scout that I was, I stood there and guarded that sandwich," Jenne said.

As he prepared to leave a little later, Jenne just picked up the paper plate Nixon's sandwich was served on, with the sandwich still on it, and brought it home with him. Jenne's mother agreed to store the sandwich in the freezer, first wrapping it in cellophane and putting it in an applesauce jar.

"He was our vice president. I thought it might be worth saving," Jenne said.

Now, 47 years later, Jenne still has the sandwich and he knows for a fact it was worth saving.

Jenne was a guest speaker last fall at American history classes at Sullivan High School, a school he has not returned to since he graduated in 1964. Bringing along the paper plate on which the sandwich sat, along with a tote bag full of newspaper articles written about him over the years, Jenne got a chance to tell a new generation of Sullivan High Schoolers his sandwich story.

The sandwich itself did not make it with Jenne from Springfield, as he said its last two trips to California have taken a toll on it.

After hearing Jenne speak, junior Caitlin Howard was amazed Jenne was able to get so close to Nixon, especially now that security around politicians can be so tight.

"The fact that a Boy Scout troop was protecting the president that is so cool," Howard said.

Although he couldn't possibly imagine it at 14 years old, Jenne has received a considerable amount of attention over the years due to the half-eaten buffalo sandwich. Each time Jenne thinks he will no longer get requests for interviews or television appearances, his phone will start ringing again.

"This is a story that just won't die," Jenne said.

Jenne had a few stories written about him and the sandwich in his early years of ownership, then, in 1988, a local newspaper reporter came across an old story about the sandwich and called him up to see if he still had it. He did, and the story made the news wire services.

[Via - Sun-Sentinel.Com

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