For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
April 12, 2006
Interview of First Lady Laura Bush by KOSA-TV
George W. Bush Childhood Home
April 11, 2006
11:03 A.M. CDT
Q I'm going to start right off the bat, you were talking about the room and what they did. I mean, it's back to its original state.
MRS. BUSH: Well, I'm so proud of the group that put this house together, this darling little house museum is really what it is. I hope people all over the Permian Basin will come see it.
I saw it right after the realtors in Midland bought it, to give it to -- make it a little house museum. And it was very different then because, of course, it had been painted over and redone and added on to over the years. So the house curator, somebody who does this for a living, worked very hard with all the Midland people who are working on the house.
They stripped the old paneling, so now you can see what it looked like when it was here. And when they stripped it, they could find the outline of these built-ins on the wall, so these are exactly the way they would have been. And you can see why President Bush and Barbara would have picked this house in 1951, such a darling house and such a perfect room for a little boy.
Q And durable, it's very durable.
MRS. BUSH: It's a very durable little house. And when they moved here they had George and his sister, Robin. And then while they lived here, Robin died of leukemia. And then they had Jebbie, baby Jebbie, who is now the governor of Florida.
So everything in here is as authentic as they could make it be. One of my friends who actually has worked on it and does this for a business, Dealey Herndon, from Austin, told me she found some old toys at an antique store and she called the woman who really does the curating of the house and said, oh, I found this toy. And she said, "No, no, that's two years too late."
So all of these toys are actually toys that a little boy would have had between 1951 and 1954.
And then in the kitchen they went down to the old wallpapers and found the bottom wallpaper, which would have been the one that Barbara Bush had while she lived here. So they were able to reproduce it. Actually, they bought a wallpaper from a period wallpaper collection that would have been in 1950s -- green ivy lattice, and that's what is in the kitchen. So it's really very fun to get to see it. And I'm so proud of what a good job they did and how really authentic everything is.
So I hope a lot of people will come tour the house. You can tour it today, but every day, it will be open every day except Mondays. It will be open on Sunday afternoons and then Tuesday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and you get a ticket across the street at the little visitors center, and then come tour the house.
Q Talking about Midland, if you were to close your eyes or if someone mentioned Midland, what is your first thought?
MRS. BUSH: You know, I have to always think of the big sky and really the way Midland is, the way it feels, the hot, sort of dry weather, the sound of the cicadas in the summer. George and I moved back here -- he moved back in 1975, and then I moved back in 1977, when we married. We had our babies while we lived here.
For all those first couple of years that I pushed them in a stroller, I strolled them around really not very far from this house. We lived over on Golf Course Road, and then on Harvard, so in a very similar neighborhood. I took my babies on a walk every day in the stroller. And the way Midland was, the way it sounded, the way the afternoons felt with the heat and the cicadas really made me so nostalgic even then, in those years, that I had them here.
So I think when you grow up out here you can see a long way for sure, and I think it really gives you an idea of, like Midland's old motto, "the sky is the limit." And I miss that about Midland.
Q Now, I'm someone who comes to you and says, you know, I've been transferred, I'm going to move to Midland -- what would you tell me?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I would tell you that the best people in the world live here and that they're very, very friendly and that they'll reach out to you. The people here have a strong character. The people are religious, they like to go to their churches. They spend a lot of time and a lot of work either with their churches or with missions that their churches do.
There are also many amenities that Midland has that most towns this size don't have. There is a very active community theater. President Bush -- George's dad, President Bush -- Number 41, as we call him -- was very active in the development of the community theater when Art Cole started the community theater back out in the '50s in Midland. There is a very nice museum of the southwest. There are many amenities, the Midland Symphony, that most cities this size wouldn't have. So I would tell you that there is that, besides being great people.
And then I know, for instance, my staff who flew with me yesterday and have never been to West Texas, so as we got ready to land I said, look out the window and you'll see a part of the country where there are no native trees. And I could tell they were slightly taken aback. But once you live out here, the huge sky becomes the most predominant part of being outside; and the very, very best part, the sunrises and the sunsets. So that's what I would tell somebody who's about to move here.
Q On that related note, what part of West Texas -- we like to think that we're a different breed out here. That being the case, what part of West Texas would you and your husband take not only to Austin, but to the White House? What part of you and he are up there now?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I would say that the values that are most important out here are the values that have been important to us our whole lives and still are. And that is that strength of character -- and you're right, there is something about growing up where there aren't any trees and there's no shade and the sky is so big that really does -- and the landscape is so unforgiving, the heat is so much in the summer, and the northers in the winter can be quite cold -- but I think it really does give people out here a strength of character that not everyone has, but people here do have.
I also -- because of that, I think that people are not pretentious. They don't try to be pretentious, they're not snobs. This is a part of the country where people are pretty plain and speak their minds plainly, and I appreciate that very much.
Q One thing that I did notice about your husband when he was governor is people down here tend to enjoy a good sense of humor and a practical joke, and I think the President -- well, then-governor, portrayed that very well, a little hint of mischievousness --
MRS. BUSH: Well, he does have a great sense of humor. That was what I liked about him when I met him here in 1977. One of the first things that I remembered when our friend, Joey O'Neill -- who will be here with us today, of course -- Joey and Jan introduced us in their backyard at a barbeque in 1977. One of the things I liked best about him was that he made me laugh and he was funny.
And that is a very good characteristic to have, a good sense of humor, when you face challenges, difficulties that we face every day, of course, because he's President, and all the challenges that our country faces. But also when you're raising two girls, when you have two 13-year-old girls and there is high tension around the house, it's really nice to have a daddy that can make them laugh and diffuse the tension a little bit by being funny. So I appreciate that very much about his character.
Q What do you hope -- and you've probably answered this question numerous times -- what do you hope people remember about your time in the White House?
MRS. BUSH: Well, of course, what I hope the most is that we end up with a peace, that we end up with a peace after this war on terror, that Afghanistan and Iraq can build their democracies so that they'll be a beacon of hope in the Middle East, and that all of the sacrifices that we've made as a country, that our military families have made will be worth it; that we will have the peace that we want for our children and grandchildren.
And I believe that will happen. These are very, very challenging times. They're difficult times. What happened on September 11th was something no one ever expected and certainly Americans didn't know that something like that could happen to us. We felt -- we didn't think we were vulnerable, we were protected by two oceans. But it woke us all up and made us realize that what happens in other countries can affect us and that if we can help other countries build stable democracies, that we'll be better off.
I also hope that we'll be remembered for -- and I hope that Americans know -- how generous the United States is and how their tax money is being used in Africa, for instance, to fight AIDS. There is the African Education Initiative, that pays scholarship for girls, so that girls can go to school. The World Food Program, which is part of -- it's a U.N. program that I just briefed last week with the director of it, the ambassador, Tony Hall,*** who is the ambassador there. And he says that we feed -- the United States feeds over half the world, over half the food that comes from the World Food Program that goes around the world comes from the United States.
I hope people know that. I think they do know it, but I hope people really have a chance to know how their tax money is being spent around the world helping people.
Q What will you take from this experience? How has it changed you, if it has?
MRS. BUSH: Well, of course, it has in so many ways. I mean, I've benefitted so much just from the opportunity to know so many Americans, to see, really what we do around the world. I've had the chance to travel to countries all over the world. I've had the chance to meet freedom fighters from around the world, as well. And I appreciate that very much.
But what's really most important to me is I've had the chance to meet so many Americans, and I've had the chance to see so many, many people in our country. Americans are very decent and they're very generous. And I've had the chance to see that. And not only that, they are really pretty strong. They are strong, they can face challenges, Americans know they can overcome challenges. And I respect that. I respect the American people very much. So that, of course, is what I'll remember the most and cherish the most for the rest of my life.
Q Thank you.
END 11:14 A.M. CDT