PITTSFIELD -- Bousquet Ski Area is the setting of an historic 1958 photograph of John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy and Ted Kennedy that is being auctioned as part of the estate of the late David Powers, a close friend and associate of the Kennedy family since the 1940s.
Powers was especially close friends with President Kennedy since his first campaign for Congress in 1946. He worked on Kennedy’s campaigns ever since, and as a special assistant to the president during Kennedy’s White House years.
Powers, referred to frequently as the "first friend," was in the Secret Service car behind Kennedy’s limousine when he was shot on Nov. 22, 1963, at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
According to Sherry Roberts, business manager at Bousquet Ski Area, members of the Kennedy family were frequent visitors to local ski areas and were avid skiers. There are two other photographs of the Kennedys at Bousquet hanging on wall of the ski lodge.
The Kennedys are known to have visited Ski Butternut, Jiminy Peak and the former Brodie Mountain as well.
According to Dan Meader, appraiser for McInnis Auctions who worked on the Powers collection, the back story is almost as interesting as the photographs themselves, which are being sold as lot No. 115.
One photo depicts Jackie Kennedy speaking into a microphone, with John and Ted Kennedy standing next to her, both smiling broadly. This was a campaign stop for John Kennedy, who was in his second campaign to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate. Apparently, Meader said, because this was Jackie’s first campaign with her husband, she was not used to public speaking and this was one of her first campaign speeches, which made her somewhat nervous.
"That’s why that photo is special," Meader said. "You can see the pride in the faces of Jack and Teddy, and that she is smiling nervously."
Roberts said it is her understanding that the Kennedys made the stop at Bousquet "because we had the biggest available room at the time."
Powers went on to become curator of the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum from 1964 until his retirement in 1994. He co-authored two books on the Kennedy years.
Powers passed away at age 85 in 1997.
According to Meader, the Powers family found an extensive collection of Kennedy memorabilia in 2011 when going through the estate.
"Since [Powers] donated so many things to the museum over the years, his family had no idea all this stuff was in the files," Meader said. "So it was kind of an amazing find."
The auction, with 723 lots for sale, is set for Feb. 17, during Presidents Day weekend. Two reserved seats cost $50. The auction is estimated to generate between $350,000 and $685,000.
Lot 115, the one with the Bousquet pictures, is estimated to sell for between $50 and $100, with a starting bid of $20, Meader said. Participants will also be able to bid live online.
According to the auctioneer’s Web page, Lot 115 includes the photographs of the Kennedys at the Bousquet Ski Area in Pittsfield in 1958. One shows Jackie speaking behind the microphone with her husband and Ted smiling and is accompanied by the negative. The second photo is of John and Jackie in the lodge and is stamped "Gene Mitchell," who was an Eagle photographer. The photos were taken Oct. 10, 1958.
The lots are grouped and organized based on the timeline of Kennedy’s life, from his early political years to after his death, Meader said, giving further context to every item up for sale.
For further information: www.mcinnisauctions.com.
To reach Scott Stafford:
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