Hillary Clinton spent Monday night at the Blackhawk Hotel in Davenport. It felt very close.
When I was 17 my father had me put on a tie and took me to dinner there with his boss at the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America Local 431. I recall the room was dimly lit. I had steak which was something we rarely had at home.
Dad was a union steward deciding whether or not to make his living from union work. When he died soon thereafter, he planned to get out of the meat packing plant as soon as he was licensed to become a chiropractor.
My wife and I spent our wedding night at the Blackhawk Hotel. We couldn’t afford the presidential suite, but it was a nice hotel—a way station on our wedding trip to Chicago. It served free champagne to newlyweds.
When I saw photographs of Clinton departing the Blackhawk in social media they possessed a peculiar reality that harkened back to those seminal events.
From there, Clinton went to LeClaire, another town imbued with my footprints. Once I sought the William F. Cody homestead there, only to find there was a controversy about where it was located. Cody was born and raised near LeClaire and his family subsequently moved near McCausland, with the two sites competing for authenticity and tourism dollars. Never mind that Cody shipped his family home out to Cody, Wyoming on a rail flat car. It was good to see Clinton did not weigh in on the controversy and opted for a local coffee shop. The Cody homestead may not be controversial any longer.
LeClaire’s namesake has been a prominent figure, literally. When visiting family grave plots at Davenport’s Mount Calvary Cemetery, we drive past the tall monument on Antoine LeClaire’s grave. He has been a presence ever since my father died and I visited the cemetery more frequently—as much as his 300-pound frame was when he was living.
Clinton’s last stop of the day was at the Kirkwood campus in Jones County—also near a family site. A family cemetery at Langworthy is two miles from the Kirkwood facility. When our daughter was young we explored it to find her maternal ancestors buried there in the 1840s and 1850s. The page of a nineteenth century plat book with our ancestor’s Wayne Township farm noted on it hangs in our living room.
In addition to launching her Iowa presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton is walking where the founders and early settlers established Iowa. I don’t know if her handlers were cognizant of this when the trip was planned, but it seems different and perhaps significant.
One more thing to consider as the run up to the 2016 Iowa caucuses continues.