NEW JERSEY (WTXF) - When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the oath of office for his third term as president on January 20, 1941, a Salem, NJ teenager made the trip to Washington, DC to see history being made.
"I went with my father,” said now 91-year-old B. Harold Smick, Jr. “I was 15 years old. I was the only kid on the bus."
“I can tell you right now that I love politics," Smick told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon.
Among his favorite inaugurals?
A bitterly cold, snowy January day in 1961. Smick was a great admirer of John F. Kennedy, having met JFK years earlier,and still remembers his inaugural address.
"His whole voice gives you confidence that you've got a great leader."
In search of a souvenir, Smick says he snuck up to the presidential podium long after the ceremony ended.
"It has a green felt-like material. And I tore a corner piece off and they're still trying to find out who got it-- don't tell anybody I have it, because I may wind up in prison, yet!"
Smick collects souvenirs of all his inaugural trips. But most of his memories are stored in his head and his heart and his bones often chilled by January's wintry weather.
Smick has a photo of the huge crowd for the second Clinton inauguration, which took place in a just-above-freezing temperatures.
“I wear long underwear. I wear foot warmers," he told Gordon.
And he has plenty of knick-knacks from both Obama inaugurals.
“I was just enthralled—I was sort of thrilled with him,” said Smick of the nation’s first African-American president.
As for this year's festivities, Smick, a Democrat says, “I voted for Hillary Clinton- I wanted the lady."
But that does not mean he'll skip the Donald Trump inauguration. In fact, the longtime lumber yard owner says he wouldn't miss it for the world.
"He's our leader,” says Smick of Trump. “I'm 100% for him. If he succeeds, Smick Lumber- our family, is going to succeed, too."
Smick says he’s learn a few tricks over the years. No more standing up for hours on end. He gets two free seats, courtesy of his congressman. And this year’s trip to Washington will be a bit briefer than the long weekends of the past; down to DC and back in one day.
“I just like the pomp and circumstance,” says Smick when asked what’s drawn him to 19 consecutive inaugurations. “People say, ‘which one’s the best one?’ (and I say) Every one gets better!”