Carol Woodward: “I’m a Democrat.” President Obama: “That’s good. We need all the Democrats we can get.”
Such was the exchange in the photo line with President Obama after I had told him my name.
Was I a hick or what?
I had begun my preparations for the POTUS visit by having my mani-pedi the day before at Classy Nails in Chester (River’s Bend area), and scheduling an 8:00 a.m. before-hours hair styling at Harrison’s Salon in Petersburg for which he would not accept payment.
Then I raced over to the Crosspointe Business Park wanting to be terribly early should there be any snafus. I arrived by 8:45 and the only snafu was which parking lot I should be in. The authorities were in conflict on the topic so I quietly opted for the paved parking area outside the front door of the facility rather than the muddy outlying lot from which the audience would be shuttled in by bus. Difficult choice.
I got my ticket as soon as the VIP tent opened and was directed to the line to be used by those who would be in the “clutch.” I think that means those selected to be in the photo lines with the President. Three times I was asked my name by the same young man to verify that my name was on the list.
I waited in line about an hour-ish during which it rained a little, sleeted a little and blew a little. Thankfully, Harrison’s Armourall hairspray protected my hair with a little help from my jacket hood.
After being wanded I was led by my young name-asking man to my seating area and given instructions to rise immediately after the President’s speech and follow him to my area for my photo line.
We waited about two and a half hours from that point during which time the size of the audience swelled. Delegate Dance, Ruby Evans and Le’one Lee took a lot of pictures of me and introduced me to a heck of a lot of people, including actress and producer, Daphe Maxwell Reid.
Then someone placed the Presidential Seal on the podium and all knew the President was on the premises. He was. Governor McDonnell had met him at the airport, along with many dignataries, including Congressman Bobby Scott who had been helpful in supplying extra tickets for the Prince George Democratic Committee.
I had raised the question previously on facebook whether a sitting President had ever visited Prince George, Virginia. The CEO of Rolls Royce North America answered that question in his introduction speech referring to a 1909 visit to Prince George by President Taft.
Upon doing a little more reading I learned that Taft had visited Prince George for the dedication of the Pennsylvania Monument at the Petersburg Battlefield. It was the Pennsylvania miners who had dug the tunnel which breached the Confederate lines. The Battle of the Crater was the result during which poorly trained Union soldiers ran into the Crater rather than around it and, unable to climb out, were picked off by the Confederate soldiers.
The Governor (Ultrasound Bob) and Congressman Scott were warmly greeted and then at some point … there HE was, bounding in as “Hail to the Chief” was played. I had seen him in person in Emporia, Virginia in the fall and I was seated just as far away now as I had been standing then, but I knew I was going to meet him later. Oh, what would I say?
The President spoke about innovative manufacturing and collaboration between manufacturers and institutions of higher education such as had been established between Rolls Royce and venerable Virginia universities and community colleges. Many fidgeted when he kept referring to being in Petersburg and referencing Petersburg landmarks and leaders. I was not concerned. Frankly, it would do us all good to be a little less parochial in these climes.
Fortunately, the White House published the text of the speech later. I heard very little of it. I was concentrating on not saying anything stupid when I had my chance to shake his hand.
Carol Dois Woodward's Ticket