Courtesy Diane Herbst
November 23, 2016 02:56 PM

At the Chase bank in Hillary and Bill Clinton‘s hometown of Chappaqua, New York, the spirited former president was holding court with a handful of locals.

“And he was pretty much talking about the how disappointed he and she were, how he feels she completely got railroaded by (FBI director) Comey,” says Richard “Zippy” Zimmerman, a Chappaqua chiropractor who was part of the 15-minute conversation on Monday.

“He said he wished he didn’t know Hillary so he could really go to town on the people persecuting her so he could really speak his mind,” says Zimmerman.  “He felt he was held back because he couldn’t defend her the way he wanted to defend her.”

This outpouring of sentiment for Hillary runs far beyond her husband in this hamlet north of New York City of some 1,400 residents, locals tell PEOPLE.

Following the shock and the tears of her unexpected loss, locals mobilized. Signs were put up in lawns and roadway medians thanking Clinton for decades of service. The board of directors of the Chappaqua Farmers Market made a 50-pound basket of locally-sourced goodies for Hillary: chicken pot pies, carrots, meats, cheeses, vegetables and yoghurt, says Emily Haft Bloom, of Chappaqua.

Courtesy Richard Zippy Zimmerman

Monday morning, the basket was dropped off at the secret service facility near the Clintons’ home. “We got word through a connection to the family that she loved it,” says Bloom, noting that Hillary received the basket that day, and asked for the names of the people who put it together so she could personally send them a thank you.

The Saturday after the presidential election, a woman in her 60s drove three hours from her home in upstate Saratoga Springs to Chappaqua to deliver a large bouquet and note to Clinton.

She discovered a sign in the window of Petticoat Lane, a women’s boutique that Hillary Clinton frequents. “We Love You Hillary,” it said.

Store owner Phyllis Jacobson welcomed the woman inside. “She said ‘I didn’t know what to do with myself, I had to come to Chappaqua and figure out out a way to get her the flowers,'” Jacobson says.

That day, about a dozen other women would drop off notes and cards for Clinton.  “I was surprised how many people came in from all over,” says Jacobson. “I have so many people coming in crying, so upset. It was like group therapy.”

Jacobson contacted the Clintons’ assistant, Oscar Flores, to make arrangements for a delivery of the flowers and cards, which she made that night to the Clintons’ nearby home.

Up a hill on Chappaqua main street, a brown basket holds over 200 letters for Clinton on the reception desk at the King Street Salon. Tuesday afternoon, hairdresser Carolyn Filancia-Vento, 56, and client Ann Styles Brochstein, 61, eagerly awaited the arrival of Flores to pick up the notes, one from as far away as Israel.  

Brochstein and pal Cynthia Ware Metcalf got the idea of having people write Clinton cards after “we started getting messages from people asking how they could let her know they express their love and support and comfort to her,” says Brochstein, who had organized a Facebook group and Twitter account in support of Clinton during her candidacy.

Clinton’s longtime hairdresser, Santa Nikkels, tells PEOPLE she’s seen Clinton but didn’t want to share any details. “We are very much in pain,” she said, sadly.

Word is that the Clintons will be staying in Chappaqua, and the couple is renovating a property adjacent to their home as a weekend getaway for Chelsea and her family, says Brochstein.

Of Clinton’s future, Filancia-Vento believes Hillary will be on the lecture circuit. She also envisions Hillary grooming Chelsea to run for congresswoman Nita Lowey’s seat. “I think it’s the next plausible thing,” she says.

Meanwhile, Brochstein sees Clinton vigorously advocating for improving the lives of women and children in need. “You can’t have the life she had and then retire from it,” she says.

On Sunday morning, Hillary was on the go with Bill, Chelsea and Chelsea’s family in the Savoy Bookshop and Café in Westerly, Rhode Island.

Jayson Simmons of Westerly tells PEOPLE that he, his wife and their two young sons stopped at the bookstore after church and spent about 15 minutes in the children’s section, walking by a woman with her young daughter.

“I recall her saying, ‘What do you think about this book, Charlotte?” says Simmons, who had no idea at the time it was Chelsea and her daughter, Charlotte.

Only when Simmons and his family walked upstairs did he realize with whom he had shared a book aisle. Simmons saw the back of Hillary Clinton walking into a waiting SUV as secret service agents held a door open for her.

Bill, hanging back, posed for a picture with Katelynn and their children that Simmons snapped.

“He was very gracious, he told me they were in town to get away from things for a little bit,” says Simmons, a history teacher.  “He was relaxed, comfortable, like a normal person you’d have a cup of coffee with.”

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