Me and George H. W. Bush


I didn’t get to shake his hand. There were just to many of us on that fine Miami afternoon. V.P. George H. W. Bush spoke to the assembled Coastguardsmen in the hanger at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Opa Locka. That’s where my reserve unit met for a time. I’m sure my Commanding Officer, LCDR Herb Lutz, enjoyed the handshake privilege. It was probably 1981.

V.P Bush presented an erect, confident posture, and manly frame standing on the distant podium, but I can’t remember his message. I was a Democrat and his message might have been slightly Republican. I haven’t thought about that day much over the years but, lately, I’ve come to admire the Bush clan.

I had a very slight feeling of connection to him before, in 1975, when I had occasion to raid the Zappata Offshore Oil Company apartment in Bahrain. I somehow knew that he had founded that company. He wasn’t there that day.

It is not only that he was such a man of achievement. We all know his legend as a WWII hero, as a congressman, CIA Director and Vice President. We know him as President and the father of both Florida Governor Zeb Bush and of President George W. Bush. We know him as the well-connected and wealthy oilman, and as the laid-back philosopher husband of Barbara Bush.

Best old man ever.
Best old man ever.

Where George Herbert Walker Bush comes into sharpest focus for me is in how he handles his advancing years. He may be the greatest old man ever.

His love of the outdoors, speedboat racing, fishing and skydiving on his birthdays is famous. Who, in his right mind, jumps out of airplanes at 90-years of age?

Now that I am in my late seventies, I hesitate to ride my bike or sail in my tippy little flat-bottomed skiff. I don’t need a cane yet but I can see one in my future. The good spirit, and resolution to enjoy life exhibited by our 40th president, is an inspiration to me.

I bought a little flashing light for my bicycle seat post the other day and I am waiting for perfect conditions to go sailing again. He inspired these activities.

Mr. Bush is on my mind when I do stretching exercises and work out on my total gym. I want to be like him before I get too old to jump.

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