Our Dinner With Donald

 

Yes, I did have dinner at Mar-a-Lago, but not exactly with former President Donald Trump. But I will tell you the whole story, and I hope you enjoy it!

We were invited to a very special dinner by Hillsdale College, and when we learned it would be in West Palm Beach, we were very excited. We immediately responded to the invitation in the affirmative and anxiously awaited the date, Jan. 26.

When we arrived precisely at 6 p.m. in our buttons and bows (it was suits and dresses, no tuxedos), we found the location, but at first glance it was just another beautiful Boca Raton business. Mar-a-Lago didn’t appear anywhere on the outside; we wondered if the absence had to do with security. We learned personally the importance of security when we were asked in the driveway by the guard if we had a gun in the car. My husband assured him we had ours properly locked up in a special box in the trunk.

Tell that to the Secret Service.

So we followed another guest who had brought his gun (who wasn’t quite certain where to drive — you know, men and directions and all) and drove to a nearby parking lot. We figured out it was the wrong lot, but oh well, we parked and walked back to the hotel. It was a very busy street with no sidewalks. (Another Secret Service requirement?)

After taking our lives in our hands, the security guard stopped us again, and we reminded him who we were. He was very apologetic, and we were very forgiving. We walked to the lobby to where the reception and dinner were to be held.

Everyone was very friendly and mostly old, and there wasn’t a face mask in sight. I realized that I was among my peers in more ways than one. We had our picture taken with Larry Arnn, Ph.D., the president of Hillsdale, and he asked if we’d been to the campus. I told him we’d shot there. He did a double take until he realized we’d attended one of the shooting workshops. We all smiled at my lame joke.

Later, we were just finishing a delicious dinner when there was a stir in the room. It was him! Donald Trump was standing nearby to greet us — well, I mean to greet the guests! The room rose to give him a standing ovation, and the Secret Service surrounded him and then escorted him to the stage. He spoke to us for a few minutes, and of course the group was thrilled.

Trump is a fan of Hillsdale College; he asked Arnn to co-author the response to the 1619 Project, called the 1776 Project. He was also delighted to know that Arnn has expanded the charter school project, n0w 49 schools around the country, with more being planned.

Just before Trump was about to leave, he told us that the beautiful room we were in (designed to his taste) was added to the hotel to accommodate his wedding to Melania (see just below). As he left, he was again surrounded by Secret Service agents; they must have been very concerned as he slowly left the room, stopping to greet people and shaking hands.

Arnn gave a delightful and moving talk. (Imagine following Donald Trump on the podium!) He reminded us, as he often does, of the importance of classical education, of the demands he makes on students and staff, and of his love of truth and beauty.

As we left and wound our way through the facility, we realized the Secret Service agents were everywhere; they were easy to spot with the small silver disk on their lapels. (I don’t know if they were electronic or not.) Some of them were distant and cool; others smiled and waved. It’s a dark reminder that there is nowhere Trump can go where his life would not be at risk.

Once we were outside, we saw the same security guard in the drive. We tried to talk him into taking us back to our car, but he couldn’t abandon his post. So we hoofed it back.

It was a very special night. To realize that we share a dedication to education, truth, and child and adult learning, and we share that with Donald Trump and thousands of other people, is gratifying.

*     *     *     *

As a final thought, we decided that it would be easier to stay in a nearby town overnight and planned to visit the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (where we’ve visited before). We headed over there late morning and parked the car. There were clear signs that masks had to be worn inside, but we wouldn’t need them in the gardens. We shrugged our shoulders and dug out our masks.

But there was a line outside to get in; it must have been caused by the restrictions and mask demands. Jerry and I looked at each other, and I said, “Do you really want to do this?” His simple no sufficed.

We turned around and headed to our car.

We honored our commitment to freedom and against un-American demands.

It was still a lovely trip.

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There are 15 comments.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Two other things: Where else but in America could two people like us grow up in lower/middle class families and do well enough to help others at Hillsdale in this way? Also, we met an immigrant from the “USSR”; he spoke of picking up potatoes from his father’s plow, not missing a one. Then the government seized the land. I wished we’d had more time. I told him he should tell his story to school children; he didn’t think he spoke English well enough, but he most certainly did!

    We live in an amazing country!

    • #1
  2. Richard Easton Coolidge
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    What an exciting evening you had! I was about 20 feet away from W. when my father received the National Medal of Technology from him in 2006.


    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Richard Easton (View Comment):
    What an exciting evening you had! I was about 20 feet away from W. when my father received the National Medal of Technology from him in 2006.

    That had to be thrilling, Richard! Thanks for sharing the photos!

    • #3
  4. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Thanks for this, Susan, and I’m jealous!  I will have a post of my own up shortly (just posted on my own blog, but yours decided me to put it here too).

    • #4
  5. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    What an exciting evening you had! I was about 20 feet away from W. when my father received the National Medal of Technology from him in 2006.


    I love your stories of your dad. Thanks for sharing your pictures. GPS still amazes me Young people take location apps for granted. I remember when I installed Street Atlas on my laptop and bought the satellite receiver for my computer. I could sit in my car doing what my iPhone does now and track my position. I was especially in awe of one menu that showed which satellites I was receiving information from. Every time I access maps on my iPhone or car navigation system, I still feel a little awe.

    • #5
  6. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Susan, what a great evening! I am jealous. I would love to see Trump in person. He came here early in his campaign and held a rally nearby, of the tree farm barn. I had made it a point to see each candidate. Everyone I talked to said they were going. I soon figured out that building was going to be packed so I stayed home. It was packed. The overflow tent was packed. The highway was packed with cars that couldn’t get into the lot to park. I saw that he was connecting with normal people.

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Susan, what a great evening! I am jealous. I would love to see Trump in person. He came here early in his campaign and held a rally nearby, of the tree farm barn. I had made it a point to see each candidate. Everyone I talked to said they were going. I soon figured out that building was going to be packed so I stayed home. It was packed. The overflow tent was packed. The highway was packed with cars that couldn’t get into the lot to park. I saw that he was connecting with normal people.

    I forgot to say that there were about 250 attendees. Not exactly one of his big rallies!

    • #7
  8. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Susan, what a great evening! I am jealous. I would love to see Trump in person. He came here early in his campaign and held a rally nearby, of the tree farm barn. I had made it a point to see each candidate. Everyone I talked to said they were going. I soon figured out that building was going to be packed so I stayed home. It was packed. The overflow tent was packed. The highway was packed with cars that couldn’t get into the lot to park. I saw that he was connecting with normal people.

    He connects with normal people because he is a normal person. Warts and all. It’s almost impossible to get a true impression of the man unless you meet him, since very little that is said about him has any claim to accuracy. I base my statement on conversations with people who have worked for and with him, not on any personal knowledge. Trump is an ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances. He doesn’t respond to those circumstances in ways that I admire all of the time, but I don’t expect him to.

    • #8
  9. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    EHerring (View Comment):
    I love your stories of your dad.

    I think about him every time my Garmin says, “Recalculating” . . .

    • #9
  10. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Two other things: Where else but in America could two people like us grow up in lower/middle class families and do well enough to help others at Hillsdale in this way? Also, we met an immigrant from the “USSR”; he spoke of picking up potatoes from his father’s plow, not missing a one. Then the government seized the land. I wished we’d had more time. I told him he should tell his story to school children; he didn’t think he spoke English well enough, but he most certainly did!

    We live in an amazing country!

    Was this guy at the dinner? Wow!  What a fantastic story Susan – and it gladdened my heart that behind the scenes there are many good things still going on – and Trump is doing well and involved.  What an experience!

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    Was this guy at the dinner? Wow! 

    Yes, he was! But we chatted at the cocktail hour and then were seated at different tables, so we didn’t meet again. I hope to see him at future events and learn more about his story!

    • #11
  12. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    OMGosh! How wonderful.

    But, what was for dinner?

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    OMGosh! How wonderful.

    But, what was for dinner?

    Apparently they keep a record from event to event on preferences. We started with some kind of baked pear on greens; then filet and fish (although my husband didn’t get fish–he doesn’t eat it) with baby carrots; and dessert was a chocolate little cake served warm (I don’t know the fancy names for these things) that oozed brown filling, with vanilla ice cream. We had a choice of red or white wine. Didn’t have time for coffee and tea, but that was okay with me. Everything was yummy!

    • #13
  14. GadgetGal Thatcher
    GadgetGal
    @GadgetGal

    What a wonderful experience–not only exciting but fun!

    I loved your attitude when interacting with security, despite the inconvenience and discomfort. You and Jerry are a class act!  You didn’t make it “about you” and certainly didn’t let it affect what sounded like a lovely evening.

     

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    GadgetGal (View Comment):

    What a wonderful experience–not only exciting but fun!

    I loved your attitude when interacting with security, despite the inconvenience and discomfort. You and Jerry are a class act! You didn’t make it “about you” and certainly didn’t let it affect what sounded like a lovely evening.

     

    Thank you! This guy was just the messenger, and by being nice, we’d created a positive experience for all of us. 

    • #15
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