It takes a village to stage a book signing – especially when the village is Chappaqua and the book, “Hard Choices,” is by one of its most newsworthy residents, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“We’re always pleased to support and highlight local authors, but when such a prominent person agrees to hold an event or signing at the library, it’s extra special,” said Chappaqua Library Director Pamela Thornton. “It indicates that they value and support the work we do for the community.
“The library staff, Secret Service, Ms. Clinton’s staff and Yvonne and Roy Solomon from The Village Bookstore all worked together to make sure that everyone had a positive experience.” Thornton said she overhead people – who began arriving at 8 a.m. for the 3 p.m. signing, some from as far away as Mexico – say that they had made friends while waiting in line. “And that’s what the library is all about – bringing people together who share a common interest.”
The object of that interest arrived just before 3 o’clock. Security was tight for the former secretary of state, especially after a sign promoting the event had been vandalized the previous week. But coming off a month-long, coast-to-coast book signing tour for her memoir of her time at the State Department, Clinton was all smiles. Dressed in one of her signature pantsuits, this one in luminous aqua, she posed briefly for the press and then got down to the business of signing. She shook hands and chatted as people from all walks of life passed through the line.
Clinton took a moment to talk World Cup with 12-year-old Clay Haddock of Hastings-on-Hudson, who was wearing a soccer T-shirt. “She really wants the U.S. to win and she asked me which team I thought would win,” said Clay, who presciently picked Germany (the ultimate winner) and the Netherlands (the third-place finisher).
Dana Dince of Chappaqua, a teaching assistant, had a few words with her, too. “A beautiful photo of my daughter and Hillary appeared in the recently televised Diane Sawyer interview. I told her that it was my daughter, Lea, in that photo and that it was taken at (the Douglas) Grafflin Elementary School on Election Day years ago. She asked me how old my daughter is now.”
And Kelly Leonard, a digital marketing strategist, thoughtfully asked her how she was doing. “She said, ‘Thanks so much for asking,’ and said that she was doing well. I mentioned that I’d worked in book publishing for 25 years and know firsthand that book tours are not easy and she said that the book means so much to her, it’s worth it.”
Attendees echoed those words about Clinton.
Ira Siegel of New Rochelle, first in line at 4:30 a.m., sported a “Hillary for President” T-shirt.
“It’s about time we have a female in the Oval Office,” he said. “I’m a big supporter of President Clinton and Hillary. My brother got to meet her at the book signing in LA. I missed the one in New York so I had to make this one.”
Seth Baumgartner and his girlfriend, Gabby Normandeau, made sure they didn’t miss this one either, driving 200 miles from Fairhaven, Mass.
“We love Hillary and drove eight hours to the University of Buffalo to hear her speak this past October.”
Also at the head of the line was Lee Teich of Chappaqua, who was holding a place for his 92-year-old mother-in-law, Margaret Vaccaro. Julia Blanchard-Young was 300 pages into her copy of “Hard Choices,” which some critics have called substantive but not personally revealing. “It’s given me an incredible idea of the work that she has done (as secretary of state) and how she is ready to be president,” said the 75-year-old social worker from Tarrytown, who was an activist in the 1960s. “I really want her to run. I want my granddaughter to know that we fought hard to have women succeed.”
They came from near and far. As The Village Bookstore of Pleasantville began to distribute wristbands and sell copies of “Hard Choices” at 10 a.m., Vanessa Esma of Yucatan, Mexico joined the line. “I’d have a better chance to get to meet her in a small town,” said Esma, who had flown in for the event the night before.
Ready for Hillary, the nationwide grassroots PAC encouraging the former secretary of state to run for president in 2016, was there in full force, distributing “I’m Ready for Hillary” stickers and recruiting volunteers. The Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival set up a lemonade and water stand. Its first customer was one of the very few protesters who showed up that day.
The hundreds of attendees were joined by numerous volunteers, among them former New Castle Town Board member John Buckley.
“This is a celebration in our town and I wanted to be part of it,” said Buckley, who was sworn into office twice by Clinton.
Roy Solomon, who co-owns The Village Bookstore in Pleasantville with his wife Yvonne van Cort (and helped stage a similar event for President Bill Clinton’s “Back to Work” several years ago), found the day exhilarating.
“I’m grateful that Secretary Clinton was willing to do this event in Chappaqua and that we could be a part of it.”