TIME: Hillary Rodham Clinton: Turning Fifty (10/13/97)
Hillary Clinton Goes Home For Celebrations
PARK RIDGE, Ill. (AllPolitics, Oct. 27) -- She turned 50 on Sunday, but for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, today was a non-stop birthday celebration that took her back to the people and places that shaped her.
Descending on her suburban Chicago childhood hometown in a lengthy motorcade, the first lady looked up at her former two-story Georgian home in Park Ridge and reminisced.
"I can hear in the back of my head all the yells and screams of all of us playing here all those years ago," she said.
During a stop at Eugene Field School, the first lady was described by former classmates and teachers as a model student -- Girl Scout, athlete and member of the student council. One fellow student recalled how, in sixth grade, the strong-willed Hillary Rodham had organized a petition drive on behalf a friend who wanted to wear nylons to graduation. (The friend's parents weren't swayed).
She was taught by her family, Mrs. Clinton said, that "you had to stand up for what you believed, defend it to the death. That came very early to me."
Like Hillary Clinton's father, Park Ridge is strongly Republican. Just 24 percent of voters chose Bill Clinton in 1992 and 40 percent in 1996.
But GOP mayor Ron Wietecha said the town is fond of the first lady, noting, "Her image has definitely improved in the years she's been in Washington ... People are very proud that she's coming home."
Hillary Clinton will talk about what it all means to her to be 50 on Oprah Winfrey's talk show tomorrow in Chicago. But first she attends a gala bash tonight at the Chicago Cultural Center. The president was scheduled to arrive in Chicago late in the day.
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