This is Uncle Bill.
This is Uncle Bill and President Bill (Clinton).
And, yes, that’s an empty can of Diet Coke encased in a special glass display.
I’ll give you a minute to digest these visuals.
<insert Jeopardy theme, here>
If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking… um, ok? Why, exactly?
Uncle Bill was the county judge in Poinsett County, Arkansas, from 1995 to 2003. The county judge, a Justice of the Peace, is an elected official that is basically the chief executive of the county. The judge authorizes funds, manages county roads, administers ordinances and enacts court decisions. The county judge manages grants, hires county employees and can perform marriages.
The county courthouse in Harrisburg, AR where Bill worked.
Basically, the judge is Boss Hogg without the money.
As part of this big wig status, the judge has opportunities to attend certain functions with dignitaries and visiting officials. During Clinton’s presidency, he arranged to meet with county judges and mayors in Helena, Arkansas.
Bill recounted that upon entering downtown Helena on a Saturday, it was eerily quiet. Not a soul stirred. He was unsure if this was because of Clinton or just a normal Saturday morning in Helena. As he approached the little town of just over 6,300, he recalled snipers on the roof and a roadblock securely in place. Upon exiting his car, he and the other local officials were shuffled into a local building where they waited to be ushered into the event.
Side note: I can imagine Bill’s impatience at all the fuss being made for Clinton. I bet he got restless and huffed a few times at the inconvenience.
Clinton entered with then-Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln. He was served a bottle of water and two Diet Cokes. After the event, someone grabbed Clinton’s untouched and unopened Diet Coke and Bill, ever the collector, proudly swiped the other.
And this, folks, is how the empty Diet Coke can ended up encased in glass.
I asked Bill if the black gentleman between himself and Clinton was secret service and he said, “Nope. Just a photo bomber.” Perhaps this was the first recorded photo bomb back in the day?
Here’s Uncle Bill showing us his prized possessions, the special presidential glass plates.
The kids were really into all of his presidential coins. As evidenced by their pink faces and sweat-matted hair, it was rather warm in the Presidential bedroom.
And, yes, you are seeing Bill and Monica’s personal cigar holder. A replica, of course. Go ahead and Google “Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky cigar” and see how many porn ads pop up. Uncle Bill thought this was pretty funny. The kids were like, we don’t get it.
Lest you think this is where the story of the two Bills ends, think again. I’m not sure how Uncle Bill swung an invitation to Clinton’s second Presidential inauguration, but here’s the souvenir glass. Bill, his wife Carolyn and their youngest son, Tyler, attend both the inauguration on the Washington Mall and the inaugural ball.
On the way from the inauguration to the ball, they were separated in the DC subway. Having been on the DC subway myself, I can only imagine how packed it must have been during this event. Bill said it was like something out of an I Love Lucy episode, with Carolyn on the train moving away from the platform, her eyes as big as saucers at the realization that Bill and Tyler had been accidentally left behind.
Reunited in the hotel and preparing to leave for the ball, son Tyler wanted to stay behind to watch Monday Night Raw (wrestling) on the television. Bill recounted in his deep, southern drawl, “Son, we spent $75 on this tux and got this expensive room and flew all the way up here. You’re going to that ball!”
“It’s not one ball, it’s a lot of little balls!” was Bill’s final thought on the matter.
This might be the best line of the trip.