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Bush's childhood home now a museum

By Staff
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Houston, Apr 12: The modest house in Midland, Texas, where the Bush family lived in the 1950s was reopened on Tuesday as a museum commemorating the childhood of US President George W Bush.

First lady Laura Bush and Bush's parents, former President George H W Bush and his wife, Barbara, attended the ceremony on the front porch of the woodframe, three-bedroom home.

''When we moved into this house (in 1951) ... it seemed like a mansion, and when we come back here today we were both commenting quietly to each other it still seems like a mansion -- maybe not the biggest, but a lot of love in this house,'' the 81-year-old former president said in the event webcast from Midland yesterday.

The Bushes, both bluebloods from the Northeast, moved to Midland in May 1950 when they were in their 20s to get into the oil business that was booming in the remote west Texas desert.

They lived at 1412 Ohio Avenue from November 1951 until December 1955 when they moved into a larger house to accomodate their growing family.

Two of their children, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Neil Bush, were born while the family lived on Ohio Avenue. Another child, daughter Robin, died of leukemia in 1953 at age 3.

The current president lived in the house from age 5 to 9.

He joined the Cub Scouts and played Little League baseball during that time, and photos of him participating in these activities are on display.

'SPIRIT OF WEST TEXAS'

Laura Bush, who was born and grew up in Midland and met her husband at a friend's backyard barbecue there in 1977, said it was in this house that the two President Bushes ''absorbed the limitless energy and spirit of west Texas.'' But, she joked, ''You know, George doesn't like to think of his childhood home as historic yet. But he is turning 60 in July.'' After the Bushes left, the 1,400-square-foot (130-square-metre) house went through several owners and fell into disrepair until a group of Midland citizens decided to make it a not-for-profit museum. It has been restored and furnished to look as it did when the Bushes lived there.

Inside, there is a wood-paneled den, wooden floors and the commodious furniture popular in the 1950s. Outside, the house is gray with white trim, a red roof and several large windows.
 
''It looks very much like it (did), probably a little cleaner,'' quipped Mrs. Bush, who is 80. ''Same one bathroom,'' the former president added. He recalled happy memories in the house including the time Jimmy Dorsey, brother of famous 1940s bandleader Tommy Dorsey, came over for a party.

''It was in this very house that he became intoxicated, sitting on the chair over, next to (oilman and Bush business partner) Bill Liedtke. Lots of memories like that,'' Bush said.

He also recalled that while living in the house he and Barbara were precinct chairmen in the first Republican primary held in then Democrat-dominated Texas.

''Three people voted all day long in the Republican primary -- me, Barbara and one slightly intoxicated Democrat,'' he said.

Now, Midland, like most of Texas, has become a Republican stronghold.

Asked if, while living in the house, he had any thoughts of one day becoming President of the United States, the senior Bush replied, ''No sir, none, no such thoughts. Not 'til many years later.''

REUTERS

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