Sunday, February 17, 2008

The George W. Bush You Never Knew

Have you run across anything lately that caused you to do a double-take?

I remember when we had a little restaurant in town called the Rare Bear. Except one morning after a prankster had shifted the letters on their portable signboard out by the street. Driving by like I did every day…WHOA, WHAT'S THAT AGAIN…it was for a brief time, the Bare Rear.

This week I did another double-take, where my brain had to process something that it simply wasn’t expecting.

I was enjoying a walk along Main Street when I saw that cart of books the Friends of the Library roll onto the sidewalk in front of their store. These books are the dregs, priced to go. Even so, I’m not somebody who can pass by a cart full of books without stopping.

So I did.

I pick up one or two books that catch my curiosity. Then I spot a slim paperback with an interesting title on the spine. I see right away that the edges of the pages are yellowed with age. Pulling the book from the shelf, I would guess it to be about 40 years old.

I glance at the cover:

THEY HAD A DREAM
53 Outstanding Black Americans


Then I start flipping through the pages of the book, which has a chapter devoted to each one of the outstanding black Americans, their names in bold letters at the top of the page. Quickly thumbing through the book, I scan the names you’d expect to find:

Marian Anderson

Crispus Attucks


Ralph Bunche

George W. Bush

George Washington Carver

My brain does a double take…WHOA, WHAT’S THAT AGAIN?

George W. Bush? In a forty-year-old book on outstanding black Americans?

Something’s wrong here.

I turn back the pages to sort it out.

Perhaps YOU'VE known about the OTHER George W. Bush all along. But I’d never heard of the man.

Here's what I learned from this 1969 paperback:

George W. Bush was born free in Pennsylvania in 1790. Although he was a Quaker, he fought under Andrew Jackson in the the Battle of New Orleans. After that War, he roamed the West as a fur trader for the Hudson Bay Company.

He moved to Missouri where he was a prosperous farmer until the state passed a law banning free blacks. He moved to Oregon only to find a similar ban.

George W. Bush packed up one more time and moved to the British territory that would later become Washington state. He staked his claim on what came to be known as the Bush prairie. Once again, his farm prospered. He shared generously with those in need, and helped new settlers to get established. He lived a good life and died in 1863.

So the next time a friend mentions George W. Bush you can respond with the question, "Which one?"

And there’s a good chance you’ll get to see that friend do a double-take.


(George W. Bush, 1790 - 1863)

Another article on the other GWB

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

just too funny. The original George W. Bush might wish to change his name if he could know of the present George W. Bush.