Never underestimate the kindness of strangers.
Just ask Lisa Dickinson, an Oak Lawn Township resident, about how she ended up with her "Clooney for Congress" campaign yard signs.
Dickinson, who is director of operations for the Crossing Arts Alliance, traveled in August to Pawleys Island, S.C., her hometown. She was going to pick up her 15-year-old son, Joe Casselman, a ninth-grader at Mississippi Horizons, who had spent the summer with his father. Along the way back Dickinson planned to stop and see her mother in Prestonsburg, Ky., and then make a side trip to visit the hometown of one of her favorite actors, George Clooney.
Clooney is from Augusta, Ky., a tiny town that was a two-hour detour for Dickinson and her son. Clooney's parents, Nick and Nina Clooney, still live in the small town.
In fact, Nick Clooney, a former TV newscaster, actor and talk-show host, is running for Kentucky's fourth district congressional seat. When Dickinson learned this after doing a little research on the Internet before her trip, she decided she had to get a "Clooney for Congress" yard sign.
"I just wanted to visit that town," Dickinson explained. "I've seen every George Clooney movie and watched ER and I just wanted to get a sign if I could and see this little town."
When she and her son arrived in Augusta, for some reason there were many people that day walking throughout the small but bustling town, located on the banks of the Ohio River. Dickinson stopped her car on a narrow road along the river, rolled down her window and asked an elderly gentleman if he knew where she could get a Clooney yard sign. He told her to turn into the nearby Bee Hive restaurant and he'd talk to the restaurant owner, who would probably be able to help her out.
The restaurant was filled with locals, who turned and watched as the man took Dickinson into the kitchen. He introduced her to the owner, who said he was all out of the yard signs. He suggested simply driving to the Clooney's home a few blocks away because they usually had a stack of the signs on their front porch for people to take.
The elderly man, named John Irvin Sr., had Dickinson and her son follow him up the road to the Clooney's home. He was a friend of Nick Clooney's and had even gone on a blind date with Clooney's sister, the late Rosemary Clooney, in his younger days. He is now 80, he told her.
Unfortunately, the trio discovered there were no signs on the Clooney's front porch and the Clooneys weren't home.
Irvin suggested Dickinson simply take a yard sign from someone's front yard, but she didn't feel comfortable doing that.
"I just couldn't gather the courage to steal somebody's sign," said Dickinson. "Mr. Irvin said, 'They probably won't arrest you because you have Minnesota license plates but they'll arrest me.'"
Dickinson and Irvin chatted for awhile. Irvin, a retired banker, was interested in the arts, as is Dickinson, who in addition to her involvement in the Crossing Arts Alliance owns Lisa Dickinson Designs, specializing in textile wall art. Irvin showed her a guest column he recently had published in the Lexington, Ky., newspaper. He was also associated with the art gallery at his former bank.
Dickinson thanked him for his help. She asked him if he would send her a "Clooney for Congress" sign if he came upon one. He said he would.
When she returned to Brainerd, Dickinson sent Irvin a thank you note. A week later, she got a voicemail message from the man.
"You know, I wanted to call you and I had a dream last night that I came to your house and there was a 'Clooney for Congress' sign in your yard," Irvin told her in his recorded message. 'So I wanted to call you.'"
When she called him back, he told her he would hunt down a sign for her. Another week later, Irvin called again.
"I have your sign and I wanted you to know I'm going to be coming up to you and bring you a sign next week," Irvin told her.
Sure enough, Irvin and his friend Emily were planning their annual fall road trip. This time they planned to go through Wisconsin and north to Canada. Irvin thought it would be fun to take a little detour to Brainerd and drop off some signs.
Last Wednesday, Irvin and his friend drove into Dickinson's driveway, stayed and visited for about 1-1/2 hours, and gave her two signs. Dickinson was not only thrilled to finally have "Clooney for Congress" signs, but was touched by the Kentucky man's thoughtfulness.
"We just hit it off," said Dickinson, of her relationship with Irvin. "It's a really nice gesture. I still can't believe it happened but I do have the signs here. It's a little surreal. He's just a very sweet person."
Dickinson said she has been a fan of George Clooney's for years.
"I'm a huge Clooney fan," said Dickinson. "I'm happy to campaign for Nick Clooney in Brainerd, Minn. If I can get him a few votes, I'm happy to."
Dickinson said her son and husband Steve thinks it's pretty cool, too. She's too afraid that someone will steal the signs in her yard so she decided to take them inside.
Dickinson said it would have been nice if Irvin could have brought George Clooney with him, but she's thrilled that the Kentucky man hand-delivered the signs.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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