CLINTON, MASS. (WHDH) - As tributes and memories pour in for Former President Jimmy Carter following the announcement that Carter is receiving hospice care, community members in the town of Clinton have noted a unique local connection.
In March of 1977, the then president visited Clinton as a place to connect with the average American citizen. In doing so, he decided to stay in town at a local family’s home.
“They were in shock,” Hester Davidson said of her parents’ reaction to the initial outreach from Carter’s team.
“At first, they thought someone was playing games with them,” she continued. “But it was true.”
The team picked Davidson’s parents to host the president.
Speaking with 7NEWS, Davidson said she believes the family’s big house played a role in the decision. She said there was also a vacant house across the street to accommodate Secret Service personnel. Clinton Town Hall, where Carter addressed the community during the visit, was just down the street.
The family home has since been sold, with a plaque marking the bedroom where Carter slept and a framed picture of the family’s breakfast with Carter displayed in the dining room.
A photo album also documents Carter’s visit, including such artifacts as a note Carter wrote explaining why the children were late to school.
“To the teacher, please excuse Jane for being late to school,” the note reads, “she had a guest in her house.”
“We look at this house and this stay and we’re simply care takers,” one of the home’s current owners, Dan Tenore, said. “He was here before us and the story will be here one after we’re gone and so, for now, we’re just trying to keep it up the best we can.”
There are boxes of mementos of Carter’s visit at the Clinton Historical Society, ranging from commemorative tee-shirts, to coins, bumper stickers, pins and more.
“It may have been tough times during his administration,” Terry Ingano of the Clinton Historical Society said. “But the man himself, I think, was one of the most genuine, friendly politicians that we ever came across.”
Carter kept in touch with his one-time hosts in Clinton over the years, inviting them to the White House and sending condolence cards when family members passed away.
“They don’t make them like that,” Ed Davidson, whose in-laws hosted Carter, said. “Few and far between — great guy.”
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