I was trying to remember how I saw the plaque dedicated to John F. Kennedy. From what I recalled it had been in the middle of a hedge. This made no sense because I don’t make a habit of looking into hedges to find hidden plaques.
I had been looking for a place to park in SW Portland around 19th Avenue last June while taking a picture of an overpass for my much maligned and ill-fated blog post titled “Walls and Bridges.” I took two pictures that day, a close up of the plaque and another of the street sign on the corner so I could remember the location which is the corner of SW Spring Garden Street and SW 19th Avenue. Being on another assignment didn’t leave me time to linger. In the months since I’d seen the plaque, my memory was murky as to how I spotted it.
Returning for more photos some four months later, it became obvious. I didn’t happen upon the plaque. I couldn’t have missed it due to a section of the bush having been cut away to reveal the minimal memorial attached to a moss-covered rock. There isn’t much to the engraving but it make its Kennedy tribute honorably. It lists his name, his year of birth and death and includes the St. Clare Boy’s Club–no doubt the group involved in creating the memorial.
It’s interesting to be reminded that Kennedy was born just over a hundred years ago. The plaque too seems like it’s been around a while with its chipped upper right corner. It soldiers on as a longstanding tribute to our fallen president.
I spoke with Laurie at the church office by phone. She wanted to help but the plaque was a mystery to her as well. She brainstormed about finding a parishioner who has been around long enough know the story of this Kennedy memorial. She thought there might be information in the office that she would pass on. At press time I hadn’t heard back which doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying.
I can’t promise an exciting story. It seems basic. The St. Clare Boy’s Club was looking for a way to honor John F. Kennedy. It’s a safe bet that this took place soon after he was assassinated. I could only imagine what it would have been like to experience a president being killed in office. The idea of it happening so close to the Thanksgiving holiday seems to amplify the emotional impact. This plaque must have been a way to begin the healing process.
So there you have it—another cliffhanger. Online research also revealed a Kennedy memorial at the Grotto. Investigation into all of these Kennedy related matters will continue into next year when we reopen the Kennedy Files and solve all of these Portland area Kennedy mysteries.