Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Friday was President Bill Clinton's 65th birthday. I don't only know this because of a weird combination of presidential trivia knowledge mixed with an uncanny Rain Man-like ability to remember dates. I know this because I went to a party celebrating the event.
We live less than a mile away from the house that Bill and Hillary Clinton first owned together.

After graduating from Yale Law School, Bill accepted a position to teach at the University of Arkansas Law School. Hillary joined bill at the School of Law the following year. In 1975, Bill bought a house near campus that Hillary had been admiring.

Sadly, they only got to live here for 16 months. The Clintons moved to Little Rock after Bill was elected Arkansas Attorney General.

These are all things about the Clintons that you learn after visiting the Clinton House Museum.

After talking about dropping by the museum for a month, I finally went this past Wednesday. I was greeted by an eager volunteer who rolled off a short history of the house. Previous owners, the garden in the back that has favorite flowers of several first ladies and, of course, the gift shop.

She told me to feel free to explore the place on my own before disappearing. The quaint one-bedroom house had an impressive collection of photos and campaign posters. Hillary's wedding dress was even on display just a few feet from the spot where she married Bill in the living room. It probably would have made sense of me to take a picture of the wedding dress, but it never occurred to me. I did, however, get a shot of an old photo of a pouty Chelsea.

Later, when I ran into the volunteer again, she recommended that I return in two days for Bill Clinton's birthday party. They would be staying open late and serving birthday cake his favorite snacks: peanuts, Moon Pies and RC Cola. Moon Pies? Sure. And I can't really say I'm that big of an RC Cola fan (it's better than Pepsi, in my opinion), but not partaking in presidential birthday soda seems unpatriotic.

Sure enough, as promised, they had Moon Pies and RC Cola. They were displayed as tastefully as one could display Moon Pies and RC Cola.

A saxophone quartet provided entertainment as people milled around and looked at the Clinton memorabilia. This was less interesting for me, as I had looked at everything two days earlier, so I left after eating ingesting a massive amount of sugar.

But I didn't leave empty-handed. I left with my very own Official William J. Clinton Arkansas Passport. It's Arkansas' way of encouraging people to take a "Billgrimage" to all of the places Clinton lived in Arkansas.

With the Fayetteville page stamped, I have three more stops left: the Clinton Birthplace Museum in Hope, the Hot Springs Visitors Center — to see where Clinton spent his boyhood — the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.

I'm hoping the other sites will be offering free snack cakes as well.

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