Saturday, December 01, 2018

Every summer, George H.W. Bush was a small-town guy

George H.W. Bush spoke at the Memorial Day observance in
Kennebunkport in 2007. (York County Coast Star / Bob Dennis)
George Herbert Walker Bush was born in Massachusetts, grew up and graduated college in Connecticut, made his fortune in Texas, and retired there after his public life, but every summer of his life (except the one when he was at war) he went to his family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, reports the local weekly, the York County Coast Star, in the wake of the 41st president's death late Friday: "Members of the Bush family spend their summers on Walker’s Point, from Memorial Day into the early fall. Bush and his wife Barbara were active members of the community."

Kennebunkport “has always been a part of my life -- a place where our big, close family has always come together surrounded by good friends and wonderful townspeople,” Bush told The Boston Globe last year. “In that sense, Kennebunkport has been my anchor to windward through a full and challenging life. It has kept me grounded and focused on what is really important.” An anchor to windward, as Navy folks know, is "an anchor dropped in a storm to keep a ship from wrecking," Kate Taylor reports for The New York Times in a story from Kennebunkport, where a Navy anchor overlooks Walker's Point as a monument to Bush.

Kirsten Camp, executive administrator of the Kennebunkport Historical Society, told the Star, “The history he’s leaving behind here in Kennebunkport is not just the history of his presidency, but it goes way back. His father still holds the course record at Cape Arundel. If President Bush were never president we would still be talking about a family with a wonderful legacy in Kennebunkport. This is one place that hasn’t changed in his life. Everything in his whole life changed, except this place.”

The Star and Times stories have several anecdotes about the Bushes' life in the town of 3,500. “Everybody in this town has stories about their lives with the Bush family in it,” Camp said, calling the deaths of the Bushes a “huge loss” but family members “continue the legacy in Maine and in Kennebunkport.” Another Times piece, by Amy S. Walker and Bill Marsh, says “For all of Mr. Bush’s attempts to portray himself as a lover of Texas barbecue and pork rinds, and despite its being a symbol of his affluent New England upbringing, he never let go of his Kennebunkport home.”

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