When my dad died in July 2016 and I wanted to curl up in the fetal position and die too, Hillary Clinton saved me.
By then, I had been knocking on doors and making phone calls for Hillary for 15 months, as well as running one of the campaign’s Connecticut field offices. I had started campaigning for her the day in April 2015 she announced she was running for president and on June 6, 2016–just a month before my dad died–conned my son and husband into standing and waiting with me for seven hours–yes, seven HOURS–to see Hillary take the stage at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York as the presumptive Democratic nominee.
If there’s any doubt, let me be clear: I am a Hillary Clinton super fan. Ask me a Hillary trivia question, and I’ll likely know the answer. I’ve read all of her books, receive “Hillary Clinton” Google alerts, missed an entire day at the beach on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard to stand in line to shake her hand, and in the fall of 2017 slept out all night at the Brookfield, Connecticut, Costco when she was on tour for What Happened to make sure I’d be one of the first to meet her and that we’d have a chance to talk. We did.
Showing her the locket with my dad’s picture that I was wearing, I told her how it was the way she kept going up, over, around and through the endless train of bullshit she faced during the campaign that kept me going when my dad died. Working on her campaign also made me feel a part of something bigger; something that would allow me to give as I grieved. In addition to many kind words, her response included reaching out to take a closer look at my dad’s face and then blowing us both kisses.
Hillary is, in a word, magnificent to me–from how she’s handled her personal struggles and being a parent, to how she’s changed lives and effected needed change through her more than 40 years of public service.
So it was impossible for me to be in Chicago and not visit the nearby suburb of Park Ridge, where Hillary grew up. I drove there this afternoon, executing part 1 of what will likely be a 2-part #Hillgrimage during my road trip. Part 2 will happen later this month when I travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to visit the Clinton House Museum. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, the museum that looks like a wonderland for the Clinton-crazed is located in what was Hillary and Bill’s first home and where, in 1975, they were married.
Here are my #Hillgramage photos from today:
The house Hillary grew up in at 235 Wisner St. She lived here with her parents and brothers, Hugh and Tony. It’s similar in size to most of the houses in the neighborhood, though a yellow brick rather than the majority of red.
When I texted my son Steven this photo of me in front of the house, he said I was glowing. Could be.
Official street signs in the neighborhood are attached to waist-high, obelisk-shaped stones, rather than to poles. However, attached to the telephone pole at the corner of Wisner and Elm streets, which is where the former Rodham home sits, is this sign.
Hillary’s first three years of high school were at Main East, located at 2601 West Dempster St. There, she was a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council and Debate Team.
Hillary spent her last year of high school at the then-new Maine South, where she was a member of its first graduating class, the Class of 1965. Her classmates voted her “most likely to succeed.”
I went inside Maine South with my notebook and pen, hoping someone could direct me to a desk that Hillary once sat at, or perhaps to what might have been her favorite chair in the school library. No one could. The administrators were all in a meeting, and I’m pretty sure the secretaries and janitor I spoke with all thought I was a little nuts.
If you’d like to see the photos I took in downtown Chicago later in the afternoon and early evening, please click here and follow this link to my Google album.