I gave a little taste here, but the Rochester, NY event with Chuck Heath, Sr. and Chuck, Jr. requires more detail. They arrived after being delayed several hours at JFK, causing them to miss an NBC television interview that night. It was raining rather hard, but it would have taken more than that to require such a lengthy delay. Interestingly enough, they never found out why they were delayed for so long.
I made the four plus hour drive up to Rochester Friday evening and was excited to do so. I arrived at Barnes and Noble before 1:00 p.m. Saturday, which was the time the book signing was scheduled to start. Prior to the event, word had already gone out that the media had chosen not to give this book signing any publicity. One reporter supposedly said advertising it would be an exercise in “bias.” Another pretended they wanted a press release at the last minute, although I soon learned that when they had been approached before, they said they weren’t interested. When they got that press release, they did nothing with it. Then you have the Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester’s big time newspaper, which also didn’t do its part. As Chuck, Jr. said, perhaps their name says it all. The bottom line is the authors should be able to show up and meet and greet people, sign autographs, and discuss their book, without worrying about the publicity end of things. Publicists have to do the heavy work ahead of time, and as this situation shows, they must be relentless in following up with media that don’t want to comply. They must ride the media and refuse to take “no” for an answer. Gone are the days when people can just expect members of the media to do their job.
I am left with two predominant feelings after my time with the Heaths yesterday. First, I am more baffled by–and impatient with–those who have demonized the Heaths and Palins, who have done everything in their power to promote lies and tear them down. These people are clueless, and their assessments are flat out wrong. Second, I am more determined than ever to continue this fight to stand behind the Heaths and Palins, to combat the lies, and to budge not one inch in my commitment to promote their integrity, defend their character, and pray for their well-being.
This really is my only regret. The Heaths deserved a New York welcome with crowds around the corner. This book merits that, and their hard work merits that. It’s not like they don’t have ample support in that part of New York. Everywhere they went, they ran into supporters of Governor Palin who had heard nothing about the book signing. I wish they would have received the welcome they deserved.
Having said that, the event was wonderful for those who attended. They made each one feel special and appreciated. They signed, talked, took pictures, and was as gracious as we have come to expect from the Heaths and the Palins.
I was glad to be able to help with the book signing. I took books from those in line, turned them to the title page, and passed them on to be autographed. I snapped pictures. I was able to meet people, and several talked about reading some of my writing or following me on Facebook. It was humbling, and I enjoyed every moment. It was Governor Palin’s father and brother they came to see, however, and they relished their time with them.
The Chucks arrived early, and they remained at the signing table past their scheduled time. Afterwards, they said they were going to take a stroll to the supermarket, Wegman’s, and asked if anyone wanted to follow them over. This is the kind of people they are–just regular, down to earth folks. A few of us made plans to meet them at their hotel later that evening and go out to dinner. They rode with me to the restaurant, and my thought was, “Man! I should have vacuumed my car!” Before they got in the car, though, they identified it and said, “That must be your car.” The Palin bumper stickers gave it away!
Dinner was going to be at the Olive Garden because the Heaths had never eaten there before, but when we arrived, we learned that the wait was going to be almost an hour. The Heaths had a phone interview to do in a couple hours, so we decided to go next door to Applebee’s. We had a short wait there, but spent the time talking, laughing, and watching football.
Over dinner, Chuck, Sr. and Jr. talked about Governor Palin, their new book, the Kate Gosselin episode of Sarah Palin’s Alaska (That was surely interesting!), and other things. I learned some things I never knew, and I enjoyed the company tremendously. Both men are very humble, still find this life they’re living now to be surreal, and obviously think the world of Governor Palin. Sometimes the hardest people to win over are members of one’s own family. Sometimes winning the respect of family is harder than winning the respect of strangers. This is definitely not the case with this family. They are so proud of what Governor Palin has accomplished, and they readily acknowledge her as a person of integrity, courage, and Christian values. Her deep commitment to doing what’s right, something they say she possessed even at a young age, is not lost on them at all. It’s also not anything new. She was guided by this even as a mayor and governor. It is refreshing to hear such pride and trust in their voices as they speak of her. It is natural, therefore, that the abuse she has taken these last few years rubs them the wrong way, to say the least. This book is one step toward setting the record straight.
I learned stories that were edited out of the book. Come to find out the book was about 1,000 pages long before the editor scaled it down. Chuck, Sr. said some of the best stories, he feels, ended up on the editing floor. Not to worry, however. What remains is very good. It hasn’t been that long since I read Our Sarah and wrote the review, and already I want to read it again.
I love that we all held hands and prayed when our meals came. I love that we ate, drank, and laughed heartily. I love that we sat there conversing with ease: Chuck, Jr., Chuck, Sr., Deb, Tim, Lori, Deb, and yours truly. The Heaths are such regular folks, so real and unassuming. I couldn’t help but think that even the haters would’ve forgotten their anti-Palin/Heath fatuity after just five minutes sitting at that table with these salt of the earth Alaskans.
I wore my Alaska Grown sweatshirt; Chuck, Sr. wore a Wasilla, Alaska shirt; and Lori wore her Wasilla Warriors t-shirt. Here we all were in New York, but we were representing the Last Frontier in conversation, company, and clothing.
I now enter a new week with new memories and with a renewed commitment to remain in this fight. The Heaths made New York the first stop on their book tour, having written a book that shares the truth about Governor Palin and illustrates the actions and adventures of their family. They left New York having made many of us feel like more a part of their family than we already did, and as all good families say to one another, so say we to them: “We’ve got your back.”
New York was the start, but the Heaths are traveling the country. Please be there when they come to your state. Show your support during this book tour. Governor Palin reminded us today of their book signing schedule. Please check it out here and make plans to attend.
Enjoy a few more pictures. Some of these are courtesy of yours truly. Others are courtesy of Deb Farrell Howard, Joyce Wiedrich, Katie DiFrancesco, Deb Heisler, and Lori Brenneman.