While I was on the fourth floor of the State Archives waiting to see Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady of California Maria Schriver, my husband, Joel, was on the first floor waiting to purchase quarter rolls. On that crisp, chilly, January, the 31st, the line for State Quarters was twisting and turning to outside the building and around the block. The line continued to wind within the first floor of the Archives and out through the courtyard portal. Once outside in the courtyard the line continued churning through. It was similar to lines for the Indiana Jones Attraction during peak tourist season at Disneyland!
The workers at this event were capable of moving the tremendous multitude through to the quarter sales tables so effortlessly that no one was discouraged from buying the quarters. 200,000 quarters were trucked into the State Archives for the launch. The price was right: a ten dollar bill would buy you a mint roll of California Denver Mint Quarters and each person in line was allowed to buy up to a total of five rolls ($50.00-worth). The Director of the U. S. Mint and the Director of Sales for the Mint were on the premises. They were allowing the coin collectors’ questions, granting their autographs, giving interviews with reporters, being available for photographic requests, all with the expertise of two who had already launched thirty previous well-received State Quarters. The Director, Henrietta Holsman Fore, was especially proud of her connection to California, being a California native herself. She was a crowd pleaser. Gloria Eskridge, the Mint Sales Director, handled the throng of merry Californians with charming gracefulness. As Directors they make up a terrific team.
Garrett and Michelle Burke and Katie Burke, who created the design concept for the California Quarter, were the true troopers of this event. Situated in the draftiest corridor of the Courtyard where they very kindly signed their autographs for a line even more exuberant than the one for the quarter rolls, they embodied the best spirit of the numismatist in action. Needless to say they were pumped. Even that cold day couldn't stop them from spreading their generous wealth of enthusiasm for our shared hobby! They signed for everybody who lined up, no exceptions.
Earlier in the day, on the fourth floor of this same building, a small group of us had been to see the Governor. Those in attendance, mostly media, a cluster of about fifty schoolchildren from a Sacramento school (who were given seats inside of the stage area), some of the folk on the quarter design selection committee, as well as representatives of conservation groups such as The Sierra Club, numismatic organizations, Yosemite National Park rangers (wearing their uniforms), two of John Muir's grandsons, and selected honored educators who had been personally chosen by First Lady Maria Shriver.
Thanks mostly to Mr. Jim Hunt who secured the CSNA contingent the front row seats, we numismatists were able to actually have somewhat of a conversation with the Governor and the First Lady after the First Lady's and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's introduction of the California State Quarter. Ms. Shriver is an eloquent presenter, as is the Governor, and they sparkled during a question and answer session with the school children. We discovered that the First Lady, Maria, is a coin collector from way back and is, in fact, great with coin trivia, put to use to "test" the coin collecting knowledge of the school children assembled there. The children were “naturals” answering the questions put to them with enthusiasm. Perhaps they are numismatists in the making. They certainly will have something to tell their children some day.
I have something to tell
daughter Grace, who was so tickled that I had been invited to
meet the Governor, and especially this
particular Governor. From Colorado
Springs, at the Air Force Academy, she
was so moved to phone me three times that day,
to check up on me, to make sure
my heart was still beating. Which
brings me to Governor Schwarzenegger.
The man is definitely of superhero stature. I am
surprised my heart continues to be beating. It is only due to
attentiveness of the
other numismatists present that I am not connected to a defibulator
near California's Governor. The
numismatists: Jim Hunt, Michael S.
Turrini, G. Lee Kuntz, and Greg Burns made sure that I didn't drop to
floor! Another numismatist, Sally
Johnson, President of San Jose Coin Club was in the next row not safe either from
effects of being in the Governator's presence.
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