At Home with the Bush Family
Dec 20, 2018 01:45PM
text & photos by stephanie sparkman
Located in the first bedroom of the George W. Bush Childhood Home is a framed 5x7 snapshot of the 43rd president, taken in 2008 – his first visit to that bedroom since moving from the house on the corner of Ohio and H streets when he attended Sam Houston Elementary School. The shot shows then President Bush smiling “from ear to ear,” as he poses in the room that took him back to a much more carefree time when he and the other neighborhood kids spent their days running, biking and, of course, playing baseball.
George’s bedroom is arranged and decorated just as it was when he lived here. You can see the Boy Scout uniform on the bed, he was an active member.
Steeped in facts and in history, the modest home also emits a somewhat magical quality. Visitors can literally step back in time, viewing life as the Bush clan lived it during some of George W Bush’s most formative years. Those who enter through the front door hoping to grasp a hint of the values upon which Bush was reared do not go away disappointed. Through the many stories, mostly personal, told by loyal docents, the home begins to breathe on its own. One can almost imagine boisterous young voices bursting forth with childish laughter, interspersed with the thump-thump-thumping of Keds and Buster Browns, rushing through the hallway.
The George W. Bush Childhood Home -
“...I come from a different place, and it has made me a different leader. In Midland, Texas, where I grew up, the town motto was ‘the sky is the limit’ - and we believed it,” -George W. Bush
In the kitchen, a quick glimpse might conjure up a somewhat harried young mother, hands splashing in a full sink while trained eyes strain to keep track of her children, playing just beyond the window. Given a brief hint of a breeze, at just the right time, many will swear to have caught the faintest whiff of pot roast wafting through the air.
Added to the rich tapestry, carefully woven by loving friends and loving memories, the unyielding strength of family, fun and laughter are unmistakable to those who wish to find them. An authentic 1949 Hoffman television – the same model owned by the Bush’s while living in the house – sits in the family room. It was on a television just like it that a young George W. watched one of his favorite heroes, Roy Rogers, round up scores of bad guys. The wallpaper covering walls in both the playroom and in the kitchen are not only period-specific, they are the exact same patterns a young Barbara Bush chose to add color and character to her home. The place settings on the kitchen table may not have actually belonged to the family, but they are mirror images of the dishes used in the Bush household. The Bushes didn’t originally use the aqua refrigerator sitting behind the table. It was a contribution made by Jenna Welch, First Lady Laura Welch Bush’s mother, used by the Welch family during the same time period. And it still works!
The Bush home was a safe haven where a rambunctious all-American boy could plant roots, and reach for the stars.
Knotty pine paneling covers the ceilings and walls of the family’s living room and George W.’s bedroom. A Cub Scout uniform and handbooks similar to those used by the young Bush lie on the twin bed he didn’t sleep in – but could have. The one original piece of Bush furniture that somehow managed to remain with the house through decades of different owners is the chest of drawers, which once held the young W’s clothes. It has finally come to rest in its original spot in the room that will forever capture the heart of a young boy who grew up to be President.
Since April 11, 2006, when the front door at 1412 West Ohio first opened to the public, somewhere around 40,000 visitors hailing from every state in the nation and 70 foreign countries have stepped into the time capsule that is the George W. Bush Childhood Home. From older couples, for whom the visit is a check mark off their bucket list, to young children around the same ages as the 43rd President when he lived there, those who walk the 1,547 square feet leave with a better understanding of who George W. Bush was, and is– and the foundation upon which he grew.
In his 2000 GOP nomination acceptance address, Bush drew upon that foundation in order to describe his values.
“...I come from a different place, and it has made me a different leader. In Midland, Texas, where I grew up, the town motto was ‘the sky is the limit’ - and we believed it,” Bush said. “There was a restless energy, a basic conviction that, with hard work, anybody could succeed, and everybody deserved a chance.
“Our sense of community was just as strong as that sense of promise. Neighbors helped each other. There were dry wells and sandstorms to keep you humble, and lifelong friends to take your side, and churches to remind us that every soul is equal in value and equal in need.
Those who walk the 1,547 square feet leave with a better understanding of who George W. Bush was, and is– and the foundation upon which he grew.
“This background leaves more than an accent, it leaves an outlook. Optimistic, impatient with pretense, confident that people can chart their own course...
“...Everyone, from immigrant to entrepreneur, has an equal claim on this country’s promise.
”Growing up in Midland made a lasting impression on George W. Bush. Touring the Bush family home provides a glimpse into what Bush himself refers to as the “Leave it to Beaver” kind of lifestyle in which he flourished. Far from a mansion, it is clear the Bush home was their castle – a safe haven where children were nurtured and cherished; a place where a rambunctious all-American boy could plant roots, and reach for the stars; a place where the American Dream still thrives. †
MUSEUM & GIFT SHOP HOURS:
Tuesday–Saturday 10 AM – 5 PM
Sunday 2 – 5 PM
1412 West Ohio Avenue Midland, Texas 79701
For more information or to volunteer, call (432) 685-1112
Free Books For Kids
The Laura Bush Literacy bookshelves are fully stocked and ready for children of all ages to receive a free book. Hundreds of titles available from pre-K to High School level.
Come by during our normal business hours and pick out your book! Limit 1 book per child/day. You can also exchange your old books for new ones.
Parents- we’re always looking for donated children’s books to keep our bookshelves stocked. If your child has outgrown the old books, please consider donating them to the
Laura Bush Literacy Program.