They are a life-size pair of men's hands cast in bronze, and until a month ago the name on the bottom never meant much to Dr. Roy Dickman, a Minneapolis surgeon. Then one day, reading about the death of Nancy Reagan's stepfather, Dr. Loyal Davis, who was chief of neurosurgery at Northwestern University's medical school, Dickman did a double take because that was also the name on the bookends. He decided to write Nancy Reagan a letter about them.

"He said, 'I have your stepdad's hands. You may have them if you like,' " says Dickman's daughter, Pat Collins, reached yesterday in Minneapolis. "Mrs. Reagan wrote back saying her mother would love to have them."

Yesterday, at Nancy Reagan's invitation, Dickman and his wife Patricia were at the White House to give the bookends to the first lady. The presentation wound up several days of VIP treatment for the Dickmans laid on by the White House at Mrs. Reagan's request. According to Collins, aides cleared her parents' way through Washington by alerting people that the Dickmans were "Reagan friends."

"The first lady said the hands were beautiful and that her mother will be so happy," said Sheila Tate, Mrs. Reagan's press secretary. "She never knew they existed."

Dickman said he had them sitting on his desk for about 10 years and didn't know their genesis. "I got them from my aunt who got them from a friend in Chicago. I'm thrilled to death they'd go to the family."

Of yesterday's presentation, said Dickman, "I thought it was very touching."

A dozen years ago San Francisco crowds shouted "Ho Ho Ho, Ho Chi Minh" in Union Square across the street from the St. Francis Hotel where Richard Nixon was hosting a state dinner for South Korean President Park Chung Hee. "They're demonstrating against me--not you," apologized then-mayor Joseph Alioto to the Korean leader, trying to deflect the flack for a war Nixon discovered wouldn't go away.

All that is water under the Golden Gate Bridge now as the White House gets ready to toss a historic second state dinner in San Francisco. This one will be next March, hosted by President and Mrs. Reagan for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, during their 10-day yacht cruise up the California coast.

So far, the White House hasn't decided just where in San Francisco the dinner will be held, though a hotel seems to be out. "There are various locations in the San Francisco area under consideration in terms of convenience, space and security," says Sheila Tate.

The international investments counselor who reportedly was Indonesian President Suharto's preference as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia won't be among American officials welcoming Suharto today when he starts a five-day state visit. That's because neither Kent B. Crane, once an aide to former vice president Spiro Agnew and now head of Crane Group Ltd. of Washington, nor anyone else is going to be named U. S. ambassador to Indonesia, at least for now. The White House had hoped to have the job filled in time for Suharto's arrival.

Once considered President Reagan's leading candidate for the post, Crane's prospects started dimming as reports began filtering into the White House about some of his overseas activities. One report had him on assignment in Indonesia and Africa for the Central Intelligence Agency in the early 1960s; another concerned his business dealings in Indonesia, some with the Suharto family.

The reports, while suggesting nothing illegal, so shook up the White House that counsel Fred Fielding's office put a "hold" on the nomination. Yesterday, a White House spokesperson said there are no immediate plans to announce an ambassador-designate to the world's fifth most populous nation (150 million).

Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Jones thought she and Walter Cronkite had never met when someone introduced them at the National Mental Health Association's pre-dinner reception Thursday night. When Cronkite said they had, Jones looked stricken.

"We have?" she said, then rushed on to plead, "You can't do that to me. I'm saying in my speech that I met you for the first time tonight. I can't change it now because I'm not good at giving speeches. Actresses aren't, you know."

"They aren't?" said Cronkite, looking surprised.

"Well, I'm not, at least," Jones continued. "I flunked a public speaking course and it's always given me a little bit of a complex."

As promised, she told the audience they met for the first time that night.

Frank Sinatra has had some classy choral backups in his day, but few compare to the one he'll get at the White House next week. It will be a group of 33 school kids handpicked from all over the District, and they'll help him plug a tune carrying the same name as Nancy Reagan's new book about the Foster Grandparents program, "To Love a Child."

Written by Joe Raposo and Hal David, the song already has been recorded by Sinatra for Reprise Records and is due for release on Oct. 19, the same day as its White House unveiling. Last week, Raposo sang it on the "Merv Griffin Show" (airing Oct. 21) when he and Mrs. Reagan were guests. All royalties, both book and song, will go to Foster Grandparents.

W. Averell Harriman's gift to Columbia University, an institute that will bear his name and concentrate on the study of American-Soviet relations, will be formally announced by his old friend, former secretary of state Cyrus Vance, on Oct. 21.

"This will be Averell's memorial," says Pamela Harriman, whose husband, the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1943 to 1946, worked on the details for nearly two years. "It's what he cares so much about. He does not think there is a more important subject in this decade."

The ultimate charity coup for something like the Washington Heart Ball would be to get triple bypasser Henry Kissinger as emcee. Which is exactly what The American Heart Association and its Nation's Capital Affiliate Inc. have managed to do for their third annual ball on Nov. 6 at the Mayflower Hotel . . . Greek Minister of Science and Culture Melina Mercouri is skipping Washington when she comes to the United States next week to open the "Search for Alexander" exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. "Congress isn't in session," a spokesman said flatly.