CHICAGO – She was an attorney at a big Chicago law firm. He was a Harvard Law student who landed a job there as a summer associate. He was immediately smitten. She wasn’t so sure. But he won her over, and the couple sealed their budding romance with a kiss at the Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop in Hyde Park.
So goes the story of how Michelle and Barack Obama fell in love in 1989. And on Wednesday, a historical marker went up at the corner of Dorchester Avenue and 53rd Street on the city’s South Side noting the exact location where the couple had their first smooch.
A quote from President Barack Obama, taken from an interview published in O, The Oprah Magazine in February 2007, is inscribed beneath an embedded photo of the couple.
“On our first date, I treated her to the finest ice cream Baskin-Robbins had to offer, our dinner table doubling as the curb. I kissed her, and it tasted like chocolate.”
As landscapers added the finishing touches, placing orange impatiens around the boulder placed in a flower bed near the entrance of the Dorchester Commons shopping center, curious residents trickled by to snap pictures.
The 3,000-pound granite boulder, commissioned by the owners of Dorchester Commons, was 2 1/2 years in the making, according to Jonelle Kearney, a spokeswoman for Mid-America Asset Management, which manages the shopping center. She said the idea came about after several queries from visitors.
“It’s a marker for the community, for posterity and tourism, too,” she said.
Linda Swift, 67, said the marker gives tourists another reason to visit Hyde Park, the Obamas’ old stomping ground. It’s not far from the Hyde Park Hair Salon on Blackstone Avenue, where the barber chair Obama used to sit in to get his hair cut is on display, enclosed in glass.
“We’ve got (Nation of Islam leader) Elijah Muhammad’s house, Frank Lloyd Wright houses, the barbershop and now this,” said Swift, who walked up the block with her camera after a friend stopped by and told her about the marker. “Now I can bring tourists to see this too.”