I do indeed lead a charmed life. Last night after returning home from ‘paint nite’ in Vacaville with Rhoda, I discovered that my neighbors [Amber & Anthony] had hooked me into their wi-fi. Hooray! I now have internet at home [at least on the side of the house next to their. I was checking my messages and my friend, Jacqui, from the library had sent me a post about President Clinton appearing in Antioch today! I signed up immediately. Now Antioch is a city of about 100,000 people, but about a tenth of us live in the old part of Antioch north of Highway 4, which is called Rivertown – the old name for our city. Mr. Clinton was to appear at Marsh elementary which is less than three blocks from my home.
I raced back after class at the Senior Center. As I turned onto my street, I could see a huge crowd a block away and nearly ran into a group of people who’d parked on our street. Safe in my own driveway, I ran inside to change out of my ‘Feel the Bern’ shirt, put on sunblock, grabbed an umbrella, and walked on over. The line was at least two blocks long, but about 50 people into it, I ran into one of my neighbors in a shady spot next to the fence. As I hugged her hello, I whispered in her ear, “Thanks for saving me a place.” The delta breeze was very pleasant in the shade while we waited at least 30 more minutes to be let in the gate. The rally was to be held outside. My friend, who had attended that very school, said the auditorium wasn’t air-conditioned.
Unlike most of the rallies going on, once they opened the gates, the only security checks occurred if you had a large bag. There were only two signs – one for Hillary, and one for Jesse Ventura[?]. Across the street, four people had climbed onto their roof to view the event. There were less than a thousand people, and I found a place on the side of the stage in the shade about six people back. The crowd was as diverse as any California crowd could be; people were actually nice to each other. One of the democratic clubs was giving out free sunglasses, and others were giving out bottled water which was great in the 90 degree heat. [When I left, everyone had even picked up the trash! The only smokers were using pens.] There were only three short speeches until the former President gave an impassioned 20 minute speech supporting his wife and Democratic principles, and I taped every minute of it, even though my view was pretty poor. At the end of the speech, he started out shaking hands, posing for photos at the fence at the front of the stage opposite the side I was on. I was about 4 people out from his exit door, but when he finally reached me, I shook his hand and handed him a picture with a pen to sign for me. The Secret Service took the pen away, but some woman wrote my name on a post-it, put it on the picture and disappeared inside with it. An Indian man on one side of me wanted a baseball signed, and a black man on the other wanted his Warriors T Shirt signed. Most of the crowd dispersed, but at least a dozen of us waited about 20 minutes till the Antioch Chief of police came out and dispensed our treasures.
Last year when I was in England [and I still haven’t written the long version of that travelogue], the only painting I did was of a building I could see from the window of our lodgings in Hammersmith, called the White House. President Clinton signed and dated it for me. I’m still ecstatic over it. He’s the only presidential candidate for whom I’ve voted who has ever been elected. I’ve called a few of my friends, but am writing this from my neighborhood air-conditioned Starbucks. Am posting the picture from paint nite, but will take a while to post the ‘White House’ one.
This was the first President I’ve ever seen in person. In 1980, when I lived in Dayton, OH, we went to a rally about the same size as this one to see Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Stewart campaign. Before that, in 1960, my father was running for judge and I sat between him and JFK on our way to a rally.
I really do enjoy my sleepy little town.