George W. Bush and I

 

(and other dignitaries)

 

Ok I really don’t know either of the George Bush’s but we did meet and make a connection, sort of.

 

When we moved back to Texas we didn’t leave Arkansas behind in a decisive way. We both had many friends there.

 

So road trips to Arkansas were numerous. I gave up my doctors there but Carolyn liked to go back every year for her female tests and her favorite doctor. So there we were pulling into the Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock. It was for a routine procedure and I wasn’t really needed.

 

As we got out of the truck the first thing I noticed was a sniper on the roof of the building.  Nice conversation starter. “Yes I noticed you have snipers; is that an everyday occurrence here?”  The more I looked about the more security I spotted; you could even hear a single engine jet aircraft at high altitude. There was only one person that rated that sort of security and that was George W. Bush, POTUS.

 

Carolyn excused me and she went on into the hospital; I, the amateur nosy historian type, wanted to see another president.

 

The first president I saw was Eisenhower exiting his helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House in 1959. Next was candidate Richard Nixon in San Antonio in 1968 at a political rally prior to his victory over Hubert Humphrey. The second actual president was Ronald Reagan at a speech in downtown Little Rock and George H.W. Bush at a rally near the airport a few years later.

 

Bill Clinton I met in Cabot when he was Arkansas governor. He had invited himself during the 1990 run for governor to our Boy Scout paper drive. His office was told that we had decided not do a paper drive as we made so little money for the effort expended. His office promised that if we would collect the paper and let the governor visit our project that it would be non-political and we would receive a generous payment from paper company.

 

The date was in October and the governor showed up with one driver, one security agent and an aide. Clinton was a very personable fellow. He pulled off his jacket and we put him to work moving tons of old newsprint. He worked very hard; he built up a good sweat; it was a photo op but there was only the local paper, but then typical Bill Clinton B.S.

 

He stayed about an hour and then addressing the adults and kids announced we were all invited, after the election, to the capitol to visit him and he would personally conduct a tour. The kids were marginally excited and we adults were dubious. He also reiterated that the Scout Troop would receive a check from the paper company based on the previous year’s price. Two lies for the price of one.

 

After the election, this is the one where he promised the Arkansas voters he wouldn’t run for president, we called his office. They said he was way to busy to talk; nope no tours, and oh yeah he wants forgiveness for saying he wasn’t running for president.  And the check for the paper; you guessed it; paltry and pitiful.

 

After that run in with him I saw him a few times on flights to Dallas. He was on his way to California to drum up money and celebrities. We didn’t speak.

 

My next meeting with an Arkansas governor was immensely better. I am not the historian of Arkansas politics, but I met Mike Huckabee while he was running for Lt. Governor.

 

Scandals had left the Arkansas Democratic Party reeling and Huckabee a Baptist preacher from Clinton’s home town of Hope, ran for Lt Gov. when Lt. Governor Tucker moved up to replace Clinton in 1993. Rev. Huckabee came to Cabot to speak at a chicken and bean supper. I was invited to attend. The number of actual Republicans in Lonoke County being very few and the room was very small.

 

I forget now what he said; but he talked about honesty and responsibility, two things lacking in Arkansas politics. I remember he was a large guy; he was immensely overweight. He ate well and I know the food could not have been, well that good. He made a good impression on me.

 

He was elected Lt. Governor and Arkansas had a Democrat Governor and a Republican Lt. Governor. Still he remained in relative obscurity as President of the Senate in a legislature dominated by corrupt Arkansas Democrats. As fate would have it Tucker got caught too. He resigned and hid out in Indonesia with a Clinton buddy, the Riady family, far from Congress who might have wanted to investigate him too a few years later. Huckabee moved up to governor and wouldn’t you know moved not into the mansion but a mobile home while the mansion was being repaired. Ever looked at Clinton’s Presidential Library …  it looks like a mobile home on stilts.

 

I saw Huckabee once more, over at the capitol. He was holding some sort of rally and I went as a member of the Lonoke County Republican Committee. I stood with the then current Lt. Governor and son of a former governor W.P Rockefeller,  W. Paul  Rockefeller.  He was a super nice guy. Took one dollar a year for his salary and remained aloof from the nastiness of Arkansas politics. He told me a few jokes, had genuine smiles and handshakes for his many admirers and had no desire to be Governor. Governor Huckabee arrived; he said a few words and then shook a few hands. He spied my white straw western hat and made a beeline over; we shook hands and I wished him well.

 

Not to long after I was asked to join the Arkansas Jail Standards Committee. Its job was to inspect jails and enforce standards; and to keep the federal government from filing lawsuits against jails which might occasionally be out of compliance. I agreed to the voluntary unpaid position and was duly appointed by Governor Huckabee. Each year he had a meet and greet for the volunteer inspectors and every year I was off across the country inspecting hail damage.

 

The only memorable story that came out of my appointment to the Committee involved Huckabee and one of my Ford dealers who was also on the racing commission. Somehow the dealer found out I had been appointed to inspect the local jails with others on the committee and he heard that I had been in the female inmate’s bathroom checking on water leaks and possible contamination. He happened to be visiting the Governor a few weeks later …

 

Dealer:  “I see where you appointed a friend of mine a toilet inspector.”

 

Governor:  “I did what!!?”

 

Dealer:  “Well my insurance adjustor was appointed to some board or committee and he was over at the county jail inspecting their bathrooms.” (We did a lot more than that.)

 

Governor:  “Oh must be the standard’s people.”

 

Dealer:  “Well whoever, I‘ve known Kent Herrick for almost 30 years and you couldn’t have picked a better Republican to inspect toilets!”

 

The governor nearly fell out of his chair laughing and when he asked who I was the dealer just mentioned that I wore a large white hat.  The governor remembered me.

 

The snipers!!!

 

Oh sometimes I get afield.

 

When we arrived at the hospital it was easy to pick out the local security. The local LRPD were watching traffic and parking lot. One officer came up to the little knot of people I had joined and proceeded to warn us about where not to stand or go. A few minutes later a very nice Secret Service agent, ear phones, bulges in his nice suit, came by and asked if we would really like to see the President.

 

“Absolutely!!!”

 

“Go across the street and stand right there and if the police bother you tell them I said it was okay.”

 

We crossed to a grassy area with a little shade and waited. The limos which had been gone returned; the jet kept circling and then here came the limos two identical presidential tanks. My camera caught the cars turning onto the street; my eyes followed the first car …. That’s why it’s there and then just as I was about to miss the second car I saw a face in the thick armored quarter glass, it was President Bush.  He was motioning semi-frantically …. “ I’m here.”  And he pointed at my white western straw hat. In that very brief few seconds he had told me and the others that he cared that we had waited on the grassy strip just to see him and he appreciated it and wanted us to know that. That’s a lot for a wave and a smile to say but he said it. It could have sat there staring forward, deep in thought about some great international problem; but he chose to make some “street fans” very happy.

 

I’ve heard many stories about the Bush Presidents and how they go out of their way to make others feel comfortable; I hope the story about the President stopping to pray with a tortured soul in the Oval Office is true.

 

On that day it was for me a memory never to be forgotten.

 

And now the rest of the story. That was from an incident January 26, 2004.

 

In 2012 I was talking to another tutor at Schreiner University. We were talking about the Bushes. She casually finished the story. “The Secret Service Agent told the President you were standing there and told him to look for the cowboy hat. That’s why he was looking out the window and pointing to you.” Whammo!!

It never crossed my mind that it was set up by the agent but it more than fits the events.

 

But then there is a second ending to the story.

 

Also in 2012. I was checking the history of the Battle of Bennington and my Grandfather … so many times back … and I happened to Google his name. “Col. Samuel Herrick” and there was Col Samuel Herrick and George W. Bush and the Sons of the American Revolution

 

George Walker Bush

43rd President of the US

George W. Bush, son of President George H. W. Bush, is completing his second terms as the 43rd President from January 2001 to 2009. He was born in New Haven, CT, on July 6, 1946. He is a graduate of Yale University and the Harvard Business School. Before becoming our president, George W. Bush served as Governor of Texas.

President Bush’s Revolutionary War ancestor was Col. Samuel Herrick, who served with distinction as commander of the Vermont Ranger Militia.

In July 1988 George W. Bush received his membership certificate and lapel rosette while he was Governor of Texas. He is a member of the Patrick Henry Chapter of the Texas Society.

‹ Compatriot President: George Herbert Walker Bush

 

The Bushes and the Herrick’s are also relatives. Glad they are in our family.

 

Kent M. Herrick, Editor in Chief, 2012

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