Bush’s Footwear Made Big Imprint on Reporter

December 2, 2018

By James Gerstenzang

President George H. W. Bush was on his way to the small, stone-walled church where he worshiped while at his Maine home each summer. But first, there was a piece of news that called for his response.

As the Los Angeles Times’ White House reporter on that trip to Kennebunkport, I was in the small rotating “pool” of journalists assigned to cover the president when he was in a public setting too small to accommodate the full press corps. Bush spoke to us that Sunday morning outside his home, preferring that setting because he thought it improper to conduct business on the church grounds.

The brief, informal news conference wound up quickly, and the reporters, photographers and camera crew climbed into two passenger vans for the one-mile trip in the presidential motorcade along Ocean Avenue from the Bush family compound, Walker’s Point, to St. Ann’s Episcopal Church.

I’ve long forgotten what overseas news development drew the president’s attention that morning. What I remember is what happened next: Rather than get into his Secret Service-driven armored SUV, the president of the United States was outside my van, trying to tell the few reporters inside something he seemed to think was easily as important as the news development to which he had just spoken.

He was very animated. Still, we couldn’t hear him through the van’s windows so out we climbed and gathered around him once more.

Yanking up his trouser cuffs, he said, “I saw you looking at my shoes,” though I don’t think anyone had noticed them at that point. They were made of cream-hued soft leather — the sort he might wear on a leisurely walk around the compound but not a match for the proper blue business suit he was wearing to church. Then, he called attention to his white athletic socks — no match for the suit, either.

“I’m wearing these shoes because they are the only ones that go with these socks,” he said, as I remember the scene. “I’m wearing these socks because I’m playing tennis after church, and don’t want to take the time to change them.”

In both the peculiar footwear and his readiness to call attention to it, was the essence, I thought, of the charming quirkiness he could exhibit at the most unsuspected moments.


Gerstenzang covered the Bush White House for The Times.


©2018 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


A Brighter Future: Brought to You by Tolerance and Responsible Leadership Opinions
A Brighter Future: Brought to You by Tolerance and Responsible Leadership
May 1, 2019
by Bawa Jain

Persons of faith from around the world are suffering, yet again. The world had not yet healed from the attacks in New Zealand, when the devastating Easter Sunday suicide bombings took place in Sri Lanka. Then, just a week later, there was another hate-fueled attack –... Read More

The Americanism of the Electoral College Opinions
The Americanism of the Electoral College
April 16, 2019
by Guy Redmer

There’s something particularly ironic about a presidential candidate standing in the rural state of Mississippi and calling for abolishment of the Electoral College. Yet, that’s exactly what Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., did on the campaign trail. She’s not alone. Other major Democratic candidates have piled on... Read More

We Weep for You, Our Lady Opinions
We Weep for You, Our Lady

The first time I saw it, I could barely breathe. It was so beautiful against the cerulean sky. Our Lady of Paris. It looked like a mass of lace, draped over scaffolding, with giant crystal kaleidoscope windows. I fell in love with a building that was... Read More

Betsy DeVos Can't Be Bothered Opinions
Betsy DeVos Can't Be Bothered
April 12, 2019
by Mary Sanchez

Say this for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos: She's consistently elitist. She's also consistently obtuse, which often is the demeanor of the entitled. DeVos simply can't be bothered to consult studies that don't comport with what she already believes or to consider input from members of... Read More

Soldier On, Lawyers Opinions
Soldier On, Lawyers
April 4, 2019
by Melody A. Kramer

Lawyers are at rock bottom. Only 18% of the population perceives lawyers to contribute “a lot” to society. This was the conclusion of a 2013 Pew Research Center study regarding the perceived contribution to society of various professions and try though I might, I couldn’t find... Read More

It Is Time We Come Together to Put Patients First Opinions
It Is Time We Come Together to Put Patients First

Envision Healthcare is a national physician-led organization of clinical professionals who work alongside hospitals, health systems and insurance companies. A leading national provider of emergency medicine services across the United States, Envision's emergency medicine and hospital medicine clinicians treated more than 19.7 million emergency department visits... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top