Clinton Presidential Library
22 Jul 2009
|We have had another travel adventure to talk about! Although I picked a day with cooler temperatures, I did not realize we would be in downpours of rain. We went to Little Rock, Arkansas to tour Clinton’s Presidential Library (the subject of this journal,) the Capitol Building (the subject of the next journal) and the Little Rock Central High school Historic Site (the subject of the third journal.) I thought we would encounter a little rain and then it would pass on by. Instead we ended up in rain so heavy you could hardly see where you were going. We did see several vehicles that ran off the interstate and ended up in the ditch. Fortunately, my husband is the best driver in the world and managed quite nicely
Other than the weather, the day was interesting and nice. We left Willie at home and our neighbor, Ken came over to take him out. We were afraid if we left him in the truck, even though it was cool, someone might hear him barking, and report us. He was happy when we got back.
We left around 8:30 AM and got home around 7:00 PM. It is a 2½ hour drive to Little Rock from Memphis on Interstate 40. People talk about the truck traffic on Interstate 81 going north through Virginia. It is nothing compared to the truck traffic east and west on Interstate 40. It was packed! You see no sign of a recession on the traffic flow!
We first went to the Clinton Presidential Library.
(I will preface this entire paragraph by saying I was not a fan of President Bill Clinton. This may be affecting how I felt about his library.) However, I find brick and stone edifices much prettier than aluminum and glass. I know the building is to represent a bridge to the future but it is not pretty or impressive when you drive up to it. (We have been to 7 of the 12 libraries. We have seen Bush, Johnson, Eisenhower, Truman, Roosevelt (FDR,) Hoover, and now Clinton. We have not seen Reagan, Nixon, Kennedy, Carter or Ford.) I also wonder if we were less impressed by Clinton’s because we lived through all the events in his presidency. I felt I learned less about him as a man. The library focused on his deeds more than on his life. I like to learn what makes the man, not the deeds he performs. I missed that feeling at this presidential library. Don says that the words ’superficial,’ ‘shallow’ ‘phony’ are words that came to mind during the walk-through, both for the library complex and Clinton, the man.
The first floor has revolving exhibits. The present one is on space travel. It had some hands on exhibits. Don tried landing the space shuttle.
He crashed and burned! Poor Don... there will be no memorial. They also had one of the Presidential limousine on display.
The second floor had a 12 minute film on the President. That floor also has a full size replica of the Cabinet room at the White House.
The chair with the tallest back was labeled for the President. The key events in the Clinton Administration are presented in a time line. It has interactive stations and videos.
We spent most of our time on the third floor.. It is entitled “Life in the White House.” The exhibits here include State events and gifts during the Clinton Presidency. It also has the biographical material. Then it has a full sized replica of the Oval Office.
Oval Office replicas at all the Presidential Libraries are impressive. This was no exception.
The biographical material was in glass cases, with some actual items, photos, and explanations. It may be they add to this area at their deaths, as it did not seem very full, like other libraries we have visited. But then all but George Bush (the first Bush) are dead.
I took a picture of Bill’s parents. His father, William Clinton Blythe died in an automobile accident three months before Bill was born. His mother married his step father, Roger Clinton, four years later. Bill took his name. There was a hand-bill of Bill running for Student Council President in High School. He joined the band in High School and developed his love for the saxophone.
They had photos of Bill and Hillary in their hippie days at Colombia University.
Then Bill’s decision to go into politics. He was defeated for the Arkansas Congress, then in 1976 elected as Arkansas Attorney General. I took the wedding picture of Bill and Hillary and then a picture of them with Chelsea when he was governor. I took a picture of Hillary’s parents, Dorothy and Hugh Rodham.
Then he was elected as the youngest governor ever of Arkansas in 1978. He was defeated on his second run. An old man told him he lost his and his family’s votes when he ran the second time, because he increased the taxes on his car license. Bill asked him if he would vote for him if he ran again. The old man said, “Yes, because, now we are even.”
In 1982, he won his second bid for Arkansas governor, was elected to three more (two-year) terms and then of course went on to win the Presidency in 1992 and 1996.
The third floor also had the replica of the Oval Office. Outside this office, was a video I watched in which the Clintons’ took you on a tour of the White House. I was impressed to find out that they had several of the rooms restored to their 1800s appearance. Hillary pointed out that they had added the first woman painter to the White House collection, with a New Mexico scene by Georgia O’Keefe and they added the first African American painter, which I do not remember the name.
In the Oval Office, Bill tells the story of the Presidential desk, named “Resolute.” I had heard this in the movie, National Treasure. The desk was made from the wood of the ship named Resolute and given to the White House by Queen Victoria. Clinton said he felt every President must feel the desk was an appropriate name for their job.
Two paintings in the Office at the time of Clinton are, The Statue of Liberty, painted by Norman Rockwell, of the raised torch of the Statue of Liberty. The second was of the US Flag. Childe Hassam, an American Impressionist Painter, did a series of Flag pictures in the 1930s. This one is entitled, “Fifth Avenue in the Rain.”
The last exhibits were of the Presidential gifts they received during the administration and the Christmas decorations made by various crafters from around the country. The most impressive was the hand blown glass tree called “The Crystal Tree of Light” by Dale Chihuly.
We had seen some of his work in Tacoma, Washington.
President and Mrs. Clinton invited the world renown glass artist Dale Chihuly to provide artwork for the White House Millennium Celebration held on New Year’s Eve, 1999. Chihuly created two identical towers of glass, entitled “The Crystal Tree of Life,” which were installed in the Grand Foyer of the White House and displayed until March 2000. In 2004, one of the crystals was donated to the Clinton Library.
I took a picture of some of Clinton’s saxophones
and music collection, the Presidential plate
that Hillary helped design as the Clinton White House China pattern and Hillary’s inauguration ball gown.
I also listened a while to some of the comedy of the White House. We saw Bill Clinton and an aide riding bicycles through the hallways. There were several speeches Clinton gave to the National Press Roast and Hillary did a funny one where she pretended to be Forrest Gump. She was sitting on a bench at a bus stop and changed her hair style and color to show various times in Hillary Gump’s life. She told Jimmy Carter that he needed to do a speech about mayonnaise, but he misunderstood it and did a speech on Malaise.
One of the strangest things was that the Clinton Gift shop was not located on site. You take a trolley down the street (less than a mile) on President Clinton Avenue
in the River Market District of Little Rock. The Library itself is located next to a railroad trestle bridge
over the Arkansas River. Next to the Library is a red brick building which was the Choctaw Railroad Depot, now housing the William Clinton Foundation.
We then went to find some lunch. Then on to the Capitol building.