Things To Know About George H.W. Bush

December 2, 2018 GMT

HOUSTON — George H.W. Bush was largely known for his work in public office, from his time as a Texas congressman and CIA director to his years in the White House as president and Ronald Reagan’s vice president. But the World War II hero and great-grandfather also was an avid skydiver, played in the first-ever College World Series and was the longest-married president in U.S. history. Didn’t know the waltz Bush met his wife at a dance in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1941. He was a 17-year-old high school senior, while she was 16 and attending school in Charleston, South Carolina, and home for Christmas. The band was playing Glenn Miller tunes, but when he asked her to dance, the music changed to a waltz. He didn’t know how to waltz, so they talked. They were married on Jan. 6, 1945, and were the longest-married presidential couple. She died on April 17. Parachuting for fun During World War II, Bush was one of the Navy’s youngest pilots when he was shot down during a 1944 bombing mission. He parachuted into the Pacific Ocean and was rescued by an American submarine. He fulfilled a wartime promise to himself to someday skydive just for fun in 1997, when at age 73 and over his family’s objections, he bailed out over a military base in Arizona, “to show that old guys can still do stuff,” he said. He later marked his 75th, 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays with parachute jumps. College World Series As a first baseman and captain of his baseball team at Yale University, Bush played in the first-ever College World Series in 1947. His team lost to the University of California. Yale again reached the College World Series finals in 1948 and this time lost to Southern California. Chicken or steak? Bush learned the oil industry in West Texas, starting in 1948 as an equipment clerk for an oilfield services company. He drove from New England to Texas in a 1947 Studebaker and ordered his first chicken fried steak — a Texas staple — at a restaurant in Abilene, wondering if it was chicken or steak but trying to fit in. The deep-fried steak smothered in gravy became a Bush favorite. A restored 1947 Studebaker identical to the one he owned is on display at his presidential museum at Texas A&M University. Let’s play horseshoes During his White House years, Bush annually held two horseshoe tournaments with teams made up of everyone who worked there, including groundskeepers, pilots, cooks and gardeners. “One of the best things we did,” he recalled during a 2000 interview with Time magazine. He headed the ranking committee, making himself and son Marvin the top seeds. The horseshoe pits were by the southwest gate on the White House grounds, and the sounds of clanging horseshoes could be heard daily as workers practiced ahead of the tournaments. — ASSOCIATED PRESS