FAME & FAMILY AT KENNEDY AUCTION

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My daughter Cindi got her 15 minutes of fame the other day.

She became a successful bidder at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis estate sale-for an un-Schwarzenegger-like price, I'm happy to report-and she found a letter in the books she bought that nobody knew was there.

After watching the incredible frenzy surrounding the auction, Cindi ended up the successful bidder on two books about Maine and Cape Cod given to JFK as a birthday present. Unknown to anybody, inside one book there was a hand-written note to JFK from his assistant secretary of the Treasury.

Such was the clamor for every detail of the auction by the media contingent camping out at Sotheby's that Cindi became their momentary-and intense- focus. An Associate Press photographer recorded Cindi's moment of triumph, and her picture made The New York Times, Cape Cod and The Orlando Sentinel.

Earlier, Cindi had been drawn to the auction as my wife's family had been drawn to the Cape. As she says: "My parents hadn't met when Kennedy was shot in 1963; thus, my connection to the Kennedys is a generation removed. However, on Cape Cod, and particularly in Barnstable County where six generations of my family have enjoyed a home since 1919, the Kennedy connection is felt along the dunes in Centerville.*.*. and as you drive past the Hyannisport Golf Club. Families, like the Kennedys, that stick together and last for generations, are the norm here. I'm proud to say we fit right in."

When Cindi claimed her books, she started leafing through them, "feeling eyes of other bidders checking out my loot." The book on Maine had unfinished edges, making the pages turn in clumps. "It was there, between such clumps, that I found the letter.

"It happened that suddenly, and that unexpectedly. The words, `The President,' stared out at me from an envelope tucked into the book on Maine.*.*.I stammered. I gasped. I said, not too discreetly, `Oh, my God! A personal letter to the president.*.*.It was the most perfect note I could have found to go with these most precious books on New England, prized enough by JFK to put his presidential seal on them."

The people at Sotheby's were all very happy for Cindi. She asked if there was anything they needed to do to authenticate the letter. "No, just cherish it," came the reply.

Reporters from Time, Newsweek, UPI, AP, CNN, CBS and the Times stuck microphones, cameras and tape recorders in her face. "Was I officially part of the auction media hype or was I contributing to it? I didn't care. It was fun, and it instantly made the books our family's treasure, for ever more."

Cindi says the Cape will always be the place of history, legend and lore, "to which my children and grandchildren will be subject, just as I was. But now they'll roll their eyes one more time, about the time Aunt or Grandma Cindi found the letter in a dusty book on Maine.

"These sort of things bring Cape families together. Right, Mr. President?"

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