sarah palin dazzled ‘em today in the town the atom bomb built**, as nearly 3,500 people, a crowd very affectionate and well disposed to her, lined up around the block for over a ¼ mile to attend a book signing, scheduled from noon until 2.00 p.m. at hastings book store in downtown richland, washington. [photos of line: 0706, 0734.] the raucous crowd began assembling yesterday, camping out in the wee morning hours, as though for a rock concert, for the chance to have sarah sign a book purchased at the store: the kids at the store said they had sold nearly 6,000 books for the signing, and many showed up with 2 or more books for her autograph. i spoke with a young woman in line, an air force veteran who served in an a.w.a.c.s. in the 1992 iraqi campaign: she had been in line since 3.00 a.m. this morning, book in hand, waiting for an autograph. [photo of air force member: 0707] with her in line, were a group of 5 or 6 kids, one young guy dressed in shorts and tennis, shoes, who braved the chill from about 2.30 a.m. to get his book signed. [photo of kids in attendance; kid with the hat wearing just shorts since 2.30 a.m. this day: 0710.]
there were many older folks in attendance, all of them quite amused to be right wing radical terrorists, and some of them taking no little pleasure in the notion of boxing some ears, if need be, to retain their liberties. a lot of these people were vets, many quite proudly decked out in marine corps regalia, and more than several emerging from the store in their combat veterans association leathers. on the other end of things, however, there were very many youngsters in the crowd, some as young as 9 & 10 years of age, and having a very high time, dashing between the security officers, looking for the best vantage to photograph sarah palin: some even rode on the shoulders of their parents with cameras, hoping to get pictures over the partitions separating the book signing from the rest of the store’s business. a folk hero of sorts emerged from all this, as a ten year old boy somehow finagled his way to the book signing, going in the exit, and coming out again with a signed and autographed book, gained solely on wit and guile and daring: he was cheered wildly by family, and more than just a little bit by the rest of the crowd gathering at the entrance of the store to see sarah palin. and, from a demographic point of view, there were many young families, husbands and wives with children in tow, who braved the crowds for their signed books.
it was a very broad based showing of support, and a very impressive showing of her appeal across demographic and age categories.
the setting and the mood may not have been carnival like, but it was very festive and very friendly, and quite relaxed. and, not to miss an opportunity, local politicians like clint didier, who played nine years in the n.f.l. for the washington redskins and the green bay packers, was on hand trying to get his campaign for u.s. senator in opposition to democratic senator off the ground. we had a most enjoyable chat about his quarterback, neal lomax, at portland state university, portland, oregon who also enjoyed a good n.f.l. career, cut short by injury: didier said lomax got him into the pro’s, and laughed. a nice fellow. patty murray will not find him a push over, … , he is a serious fellow, with a serious purpose.
and, sad in a way, but emblematic of the concern that sarah palin has for kids with disabilities, five or six families had down syndrome children in tow, many quite gleefully hugging a book personally autographed by sarah palin. sarah's son trig was outside the store, mingling with the crowd watching the whole thing going on, with his grandmother, sarah palin’s mom. [sarah palin's mom and son: hpim 0735.jpg.] she held the boy as she spoke with a reporter from the seattle times, a large man in a dark suit jacket, identified as eric lassitae, but i know that memory fails me. grandma passed him back and forth on occasion to an attractive dark haired lady identified to me as sarah palin’s cousin. [sarah's cousin, trig and seattle times reporter: 0730.] they were, … , well, just as you might expect the palin family to be with trig, … , caring and completely nonplussed about sharing him and sharing themselves with him. i overheard sarah palin’s cousin discussing thanksgiving dinner and pizza the next day with family in the tri-cities, with apparently upwards of 45 family members in attendance. what a riot that must have been.
there were more people there than there were books to sell. without the purchased book and proof of purchase at the store, there were lots of people who had no chance at an autographed book. yet, many waited outside the store, for a chance to see her, if only for a bit. [crowd waiting for sarah to emerge, cars waiting to whisk her away: 0760.]
the local t.v. stations were there, kndu from the tri-cities, [t.v. reporter, local station kndu, and camera person, another station: 0717 & 0759] and two freelance journalists, kevin and mike, a cameraman and soundman from everett, washington had been hired by “entertainment tonight” to film and record the festivities: i waited for sarah palin to emerge the store with them, about 60 feet from the front of the store where she emerged. with us, a young girl in high school, from walla walla high school, walla walla, washington.
6 or 7 richland police officers, a washington state patrolman, and private security were there to control the crowd, with mixed results. the crowd in front of the store, waiting for sarah to come out, really began to gather and build numbers when the last of the long line disappeared into the store for the book signing, and as people emerged with their books, many very gleeful and raising the books and fists and pumping them in the air and yelling, the crowd started peppering them with questions, how many left in the line, when is sarah coming out. the fever pitch built when members of her entourage came from the store with cardboard boxes and materials, and the security apparatus started ducking out the entrance assaying the crowd, and speaking on their cell phones describing the scene. the richland police had set out orange cones, and vainly tried to move the crowd back behind them, the newspaper and t.v. people being absolutely incorrigible and refusing to budge, and the crowd begin to push its way forward to get a view of sarah.
when she emerged the store, instead of ducking into the car for a quick exit, she moved quickly past it, and confounding the police, moved directly to the crowd to shake hands and welcome the people in attendance. [sarah palin, shaking hands, lady in the red coat: you just have to take my word for it: 0763 & hands raised w/ cameras, trying to find a photo of sarah: 0765] at that, the crowd pressed forward, and she was enveloped in the welcome: not once, in the glances that i was able to catch, did i see any alarm on her face, just an absolute ease of deportment and genuine pleasure in talking to people. yet, when she wanted to get into the car, the crowd eased her passage, and she got into the car and left, with people pressing forward with cameras and cell phone to take her picture. [sarah palin leaves in suv: 0766] a man in the crowd fell faint to the ground as this happened, but several people rushed to his aid, a cordon of arms went up around him in a circle as others attended to him, and not one person in the crowd impinged upon the care the man received: by the time the fire department ambulance arrived, he was sitting and comfortable and alert.
as i drove towards home over the i-182 bridge spanning the columbia river i looked upriver to the north at the condensation plume rising over the hanford project *** where the u.s. refined the uranium ore for wwii’s manhattan project, and just a bit downriver i crossed over the snake river at its confluence with the columbia, and the great grain elevators loading the wheat harvest onto barges for their trip to portland, oregon on the great slack water pools/lakes behind the damns built on the columbia during the depression and just after wwii.
it was a forceful reminder that s.e. washington, on the rain shadow side of the cascade mountains is the creation of the collective might of the people of the united states working through the government to build the hanford project in support of the atom bomb and the resultant nuclear defense establishment, and the building of bonneville dam and banks lank, the kingpins of the columbia basin project supplying water to flower agriculture in the middle of the dessert, technically speaking, a high arid steppe region with less than 12” of annual rainfall.
richland is the town the government and trade unions built.
one might have expected some opposition to sarah palin’s book signing this afternoon, … , yet there was none, the sole opponent voicing his opposition being a well behaved young man bearing an obama “2008” poster, extolling “change.” this lone exponent of the left looked a bit disappointed to be wholly ignored by a crowd ebullient at the chance to see sarah palin, and just eager as everything to express their support of her and to disparage obama, yet in a very decorous manner.
i saw no evidence of any trade union presence, and absolutely none of any opposition to her presence. they certainly was no “demonstration” against her in the slightest.
she received a very strong welcome, from a large crowd who braved the chill and were very festive and upbeat at the chance to see her, if even for the briefest of moments. her welcome was enthusiastic, and raucous, people chanting sarah, sarah as she appeared before leaving, and staying around to chat for a bit after she had left. and, the crowd, seemed to have a very genuinely good time chatting amongst themselves, as they shuffled along the sidewalk toward the signing, and as they gathered before the store to see her depart.
this country, it seems to me, is geared up to see someone unseat obama from the presidency. and, it would seem to me, that sarah palin, is seizing precious early high ground in a battle for the republican nomination for president, if that is in fact her intent.
i think it is.
one does not necessarily need one’s mom and dad in tow at a book signing, now does one. [sarah's cousin and daughter: 0754]
john jay @ 11.29.
**the local high school has been known for years as the “richland bombers,” the athletic team logos being a representation of the nucleus of an atom orbited by a couple three electrons, the paths of the orbits being drawn in ellipses. fun, that.
***get a good set of binoculars, or a spotting scope, and you can very easily see the hanford site nuclear reactors from many of the hillside residential neighborhoods in west richland, washington which is located on the banks of the yakima river, whose confluence with the columbia is just a few miles upstream of where the snake river enters the great river of the north west. feel free to hum a chorus of roll on columbia by woody guthrie, penned for the w.p.a.
................................................................................................. index of photos .... index of photos ....
hpim 0706.jpg .... line at entrance of hastings books store, noon
hpim 0734.jpg .... line stretching to torbett street, from front of bookstore
0707 .... member of u.s. air force in full uniform, duty in awacs during 1992 iraq campaign
0710 .... one of any number of groups of young kids who stood in line for the book signing
0735 .... grandma and trig palin, outside the store, talking with the crowd
0730 .... sarah's cousin (as identified to me) talking with seattle times reporter
0760 .... crowd & cars, waiting for sarah to emerge
0717 .... t.v. reporter and wife, nice fellow, i have watched him for years
0759 .... t.v. camera person
0763 .... picture of sarah palin in the crowd, on foot, before leaving in car
0765 .... picture of sarah palin in the crowd, on foot, before leaving in car
0766 .... sarah palin leaves, as crowd presses to her, and tries to take pictures w/ cameras, cell phones, ... , whatever, laughing
0754 .... sarah's cousin, sarah's daughter (as they were identified to me)