The line wrapped around the block as over 1200 people waited in line for a chance to meet former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady and first woman to run for President as the nominee of one of the two major political parties. In rock concert fashion, the ticketed event sold out in under two hours and the lucky ticket holders started lining up before 9am for the 2pm event. Clinton was in town to do a book signing of her bestseller What Happened and Vromen’s is her only Los Angeles stop on her book tour.
The mood was electric but also respectful and even emotional as fans and admirers approached Clinton, each having a short, little story to tell. Clinton locked eyes with each of them and listened intently, sometimes laughing heartily or clasping their hand with both of her hands as some tearfully spoke to her.
Third grader, Eliana Fire, was inspired by Clinton to run for Vice President of her class and when she mentioned this to Secretary Clinton, she was told, “I’m very proud of you!” Eliana’s parents, Larry and Patricia drove her up from San Pedro, with her teachers’ permission because “it was important to my daughter and I think Hillary is a very positive role model for her. She was very into the election and it’s a rare opportunity and good for female empowerment,” said her father. Eliana said, “she’s very inspiring!”
South Pasadena resident Shari Correll was clearly moved when asked what compelled her to wait five hours to meet Hillary Clinton saying, “just to be close to the greatness of her. I mean, that’s how I feel. I wanted to be near her and I feel very empowered being here and excited to be a part of that energy.” Echoing that sentiment was friend and fellow South Pasadenan, Kim Carlson, who tells us, “I’m here because I think she’s an icon and I think she is a role model for women and has really brought out in American women this desire to stand up and assert our rights,” going on to say, “the feminists in the seventies really opened the door for us but Hillary Clinton has reinvigorated our fight for my generation and the generation coming up after us to stand up for what we believe in and stand up for equality for women.”
Correll said after meeting Clinton, “it was emotional meeting her and such an honor!” Carlson describes Clinton as very personable saying, “I thanked her for everything she’s done for our country and for women and I told her she was an inspiration to me. She said she appreciated me telling her that and she said she liked my hat (a Hillary campaign hat) and thanked me for wearing it.”
Longtime South Pasadena arts advocate, Lissa Reynolds, was there with her niece, Tracy Van Houten, who recently ran for the 34th district congressional seat formerly held by Javier Becerra. Said Reynolds “I’ve admired her forever, since she came on the scene and there is no one I would rather emulate than Hillary Clinton. She’s a caring woman who has worked her whole life to help people, to build them up, to pull them up and I am so excited to meet her.” Van Houten explained that she felt this was a “must do” having just run for congress and said a huge part of that was being inspired by Clinton, saying, “I think there is nothing more important right now than electing women and to have her as the first female Presidential candidate is inspiring and this is a tribute and a thank you back to her to say thank you for inspiring us. I think that’s why everyone is here; we’ve been told to be quiet about her but Hillary is not stopping and we’re not going to stop being supporters of her either.”
We caught up with both Reynolds and Van Houten after the event and both were overcome with emotion. Reynolds almost couldn’t find words but finally said, “I told her I have been touring a one woman show called A Woman of Independent Means for many years and the next one woman show that I would like to do is about her. And she said, ‘I’m glad. That would be great!'” Van Houten told Clinton, “I’m a rocket scientist and I am normally working on things to send to Mars but I had to take a break from that and run for congress because I was so inspired by her so I ran for Javier Becerra’s seat and wasn’t successful but I will run again and she said, “yes you will and you will win!” yes I will!” exclaimed Van Houten.
South Pasadenan Sharon Hannah told Clinton that she was from Little Rock and has “four sisters spread all over the country and we all love you, my mother too, and I go to church with Anne McCoy, who is one of her good friends,” Hannah told us, “and Hillary said, ‘oh really? Tell everyone I said hello!’ I wish I had twenty more minutes with her because I have so much I would love to say to her. She has always served no matter what and she’s a strong woman.”
Even though it was a photo op for the press and Clinton took no questions, the press couldn’t resist asking her if she had any thoughts about the Michael Flynn news today to which Clinton held up her book and playfully responded, “there’s a lot about Russia in my book. I highly recommend it!”