VIDEO: Man has kept Richard Nixon's half-eaten sandwich for 60 years

1960 was a simpler time, and it was also a time when Illinois was a swing state, Steve Jenne recalls.

September 24, 2020
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Sixty years ago this week, Vice President Richard Nixon was in a presidential campaign against Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. Illinois was a swing state back then; and both were campaigning downstate, where a young Boy Scout grabbed a piece of memorabilia.

Steve Jenne, 74, was a 14-year-old Boy Scout tasked with securing the premises at Wyman Park in Sullivan on September 22, 1960, when then-Vice President Richard Nixon stopped to speak at the local Chamber of Commerce just weeks before the 1960 presidential election.

“I was situated right directly behind Mr. Nixon,” Jenne remembered, “and they served him a buffalo barbecue sandwich on a paper plate.”

Nixon was up against Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, who would bring his campaign through Springfield 10 days later.

"I was so impressed that we had the Vice President," Jenne said.

So impressed, Jenne told CBS Campaign that when Nixon got up to give his speech, leaving behind the half-eaten sandwich, he grabbed the sandwich and hopped on his bike to take it home.

"Mom, mom, I've got Richard Nixon's half-eaten buffalo barbecue sandwich here. She said 'well, what do you want me to do with it?' I said freeze it," Jenne recalled.

Jenne told CBS 3 Champaign his mother wrapped the sandwich remnants in a plastic baggie and stored it inside a glass jar in their freezer

He still has it today in the same jar.

Years later, a local newspaper would write about that sandwich, landing Jenne on Johnny Carson.

"By golly, he brought it here tonight," Carson said.

Jenne thought it would be fun to get friends together 60 years later to recreate that barbecue Nixon attended during a simpler time.

“I tell you, it was small town Americana, where everything is good,” he reminisced. “Forget about politics, forget about red states, blue states, everything else associated with those. I don’t know what the [political] affiliation was with the friends that were there. We sat down, we just had laughs and a good time. We talked about 60 years ago.

“But when I left, I remember saying to the people who were still there, ‘Folks, it was a great, great time. Thanks for everything. Thanks for everything you did to put this together. And I’ll see you all again in 60 years.'”

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