For eight years a group of six women met weekly for coffee to help Hillary Clinton win the presidency.
On Tuesday night, they had planned to drink champagne to toast their win, and celebrate the thousands of hours of work they had done toward their goal of seeing the first woman win the White House.
Instead, the glasses remained unfilled on the counter, and by 12:30 a.m. the women reluctantly conceded that Clinton would likely not win.
“If we’re all in pain, just imagine the pain that she’s in,” said Florence McGraw, 85, who admitted she will likely never live to see a woman president.
“It’s total shock. We’re all in disbelief,” said Francie Pepper, who hosted the group at her Wyoming house to watch the results.
These die-hard Hillary Clinton supporters have achieved celebrity status among local Democrats since WCPO first wrote about them in 2015.
Once a week, every single week, for more than eight years, these six women met at College Hill Coffee Company and Casual Gourmet to talk about Clinton.
The women, who range in age from 65 to 89, met at a Wyoming phone bank while working for Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid and became great friends.
After Clinton suspended her campaign and endorsed Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee, the disappointed women promised not to lose touch with each other or their dream of Clinton someday.
That was 432 weekly coffees ago.
These women spent their Election Day hammering signs into the ground at poll locations and organizing door-to-door efforts from Woodlawn to Cheviot.
Then they gathered altogether at Pepper’s home at 8:30 p.m. to celebrate Clinton’s predicted win. They ate a potluck dinner and opened wine, confident that the polls that gave Clinton the edge would hold true.
But slowly, as the results began to filter in, revealing win after unexpected win in states for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, their mood turned somber.
“I feel as if all of these people who voted for this man, they got what they deserved,” said Christine Zevron, of White Oak.
The women looked shell-shocked as they worried aloud about everything from the stock market drop, to how they would explain Trump’s likely win to their grandchildren.
“This is not a reality show,” McGraw said, sadly.
Since the summer, McGraw had made more than 600 phone calls to voters urging them to support Clinton.
On Tuesday morning, she got up early and put up Clinton signs at four polling spots, using the hammer and screwdriver she kept in the trunk of her car.
“All of these promises that (Trump) made, now he has to produce something,” Ena Wilson said.
Wilson was 81 when Clinton dropped her first bid in 2008. She didn’t think she would live long enough to see a woman president.
“I’m just thrilled to have a second chance at it. This was unexpected for me,” said Wilson, who is now 89, when she cast her vote for Clinton with the coffee ladies group on October 12 -- the first day of early voting in Ohio.
As the results began to favor Trump, many of the young female volunteers and Clinton staffers who were at Pepper’s house began to sob.
Zevron, Pepper and Joyce Shrimplin, one of the volunteer Clinton campaign leaders in Warren County, comforted the young women, and urged them to take pride in the fact that at least Clinton won Hamilton County.
But quietly, the women worried.
“Our grandchildren called us on the way here. What are we going to say to them tomorrow?” Shrimplin said. “But somehow we’ll unite and step up to it.”
“The sun will shine,” McGraw said.