When I floated the idea of writing something about the late President George H.W. Bush as a tribute, I wanted to tell a more personal story. I’m not one to write about politics – it isn’t one of my favorite topics, plus I don’t like to stir up controversy and cause arguments. The political climate (and the social climate) is such that I don’t enjoy ruffling feathers. So to write a tribute, I fear it being personal, but at the same time, I can’t think of anything parody-wise that would be more appropriate.
This comes from a conversation I had with my mom on the phone Monday night (December 3, 2018), after I watched Vice President Mike Pence eulogize President George H.W. Bush. She didn’t remember this happening, but it popped in my head right in the middle of listening to Pence’s heartfelt words.
I was in fourth grade during the 1992-1993 school year. In November 1992, ten-year-old me watched President George H.W. Bush lose the election to a Southern Governor named William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton. I remember seeing Jim Carrey portray/imitate him on In Living Color (this was about two years before I started watching Saturday Night Live). My maternal grandmother (who died in 2015) was a huge President George H.W. Bush (and before him, Ronald Reagan) fangirl. This was, of course, before “fangirl” was a part of our cultural lexicon. Also, can you be a fangirl over a President? My grandma certainly was, and as the Reagans and the Bushes passed away, it hit me hard and felt like I was losing a grandparent.
I’m also the keeper of this awesome photo:
I’ve shared this photo numerous times, but I think if there was any one photo that could sum up my grandma (or at l, it was this one. Grandma was a Republican, and admittedly, I grew up as such in a Conservative family. Nothing wrong with that – I never impose any beliefs (both political and religion, but I’m not religious) on anyone. I’m a quiet practitioner of both faith and politics.
But I when I got handed a school assignment the second half of the school year, I had my heart set on a specific topic. It got a few laughs, but being the cute little Conservative I was, it was my duty to do this.
In the winter of 1993, my fourth grade teacher tasked us with a large writing assignment: a research paper on a former president. She emphasized the former part – Bill Clinton had just been elected to office, so we were not permitted to write about him. Most kids went for the usual suspects – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln – but I went more modern.
I chose President George H.W. Bush. It got some laughs, but this was who I wanted to write about. In hindsight, I’m surprised I didn’t choose Reagan (I briefly considered him), but I was happy with the decision I made.
Encyclopedia Britannica, The Greatest Report Cover EVER, and The Hatred of Writing
Did I ever mention I hated writing at one point in my life? I’m convinced it had something to do with writing in cursive and erasable pen (the worst writing tool of all time). And up to that point, I’d never done any formal research on anything, so I naturally this seemed a bit daunting for a ten-year-old. I went to the school’s library and had the whole section in Encyclopedia Britannica on President George H.W. Bush photocopied, and took it home. And since I was really unhappy with the idea of doing research (this doesn’t sound like me, but trust me, it was), my mom helped me go over that encyclopedia entry. What we got from it was about ten (maybe more, I don’t recall) handwritten, single-spaced pages all about the President. The more we worked on it, the more fun it actually turned out to be.
I also created a snazzy cover for my report – white constrution paper and red, blue, and silver star stickers. In red and blue marker, the words were traced out with stencils – “President George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States of America.” It was gorgeous – I don’t have it anymore, but photographic memory of having “Allison Venezio” handwritten on the same cover as this amazing-looking piece of art just seems so out of place. But it was my work – ok, mom helped with drawing the pencil lines so the text was written straight on the cover – and it was beautiful.
There was one more step to this report: a photo. We were required to include a photo with the report.
That’s where Grandma’s house came in.
The President George H.W. Bush Photo and Grandma’s House
The next time I was at Grandma’ house, I told her I needed a photo for my report. Grandma did one better than photocopied pictures from the library books and encyclopedias – she had glossies!
Yes, folks, my grandma had 8×10 photos of former Presidents in her house. My fiancee and I have photo ops and autographs on our walls. My grandma had glossies of President Bush and Ronald Reagan in a stash. She had several I could use, but I picked what I felt (in my honest opinion), was the best one I could find:
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica
It seems a bit strange that my grandma had stuff like this in her house, but in hindsight, I am eternally grateful she did. The glossies of Presidents Bush and Reagan were like all the autographs and photo ops I’ve had over the years – collectibles of things I enjoy the most. Geek culture is my thing, Republican Presidents was my grandma’s.
I did keep the report for quite a few years after that. I do wonder if it is somewhere, perhaps with alot of other class assignments and art work my mom may have kept. I’m pretty sure the box of school stuff is in our basement; perhaps I’ll go down there at some point and look.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering how I did on the report itself…I got an A. As writing skills went, I was fairly talented even at a young age (mostly in creative writing, though that’s not the case anymore), but my first big formal research report landed me a sweet high mark. It wasn’t my first “A,” and it definitely wasn’t my last, but it was the first big research project I ever completed in school.
And that hatred for writing? I think you know how that all worked out. :-)