KENNEBUNKPORT (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Bob and Evelyn Paine are the owners of the W. Robert Paine Gallery in Kennebunkport. They've been friends with the Bush family ever since they purchased an original painting of their home at Walker's Point.
It's mounted over the fire place at their home in Houston, and at one point they were invited to their home in Texas to see the art. Eventually, they were invited to much more than that.
"I come from a lobster family," explains Evelyn Paine. "I never thought that I'd know the President of the United States and his wife and family. Just, amazing.”
The former president and first lady invited the couple to cocktail parties where Paine says she met prime ministers and their families, along with celebrities.
"Just amazing," says Paine.
The Paine's knew President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush on a first name basis, from the beginning.
"Barbara told me years ago....she says we are not President and Mrs. George Bush," explained Paine. "We are George and Barbara."
Eventually, Bob would paint a portrait of the two. Later, he'd capture the view outside their Kennebunkport home. Sitting just below both of those pieces in the gallery, rests the most recent Christmas card from the Bush family.
"Wonderful people," says Bob Paine. "The whole family."
"They're very giving," adds Evelyn Paine. "Give, give, give!"
As time went on, invitations turned into traditions.
"Every year before they go back to Texas we have dinner with them at Mabels," says Mrs. Paine. "Barbara and I know whose turn it is to pay."
"So one time the girl came over with the bill," explains Mr. Paine, "and George says, 'I'll take that.' And Barbara says, 'no! It's their turn!' He says, 'if I had known that I would have had two lobsters!'"
Their most recent conversation, was at that dinner table.
For the Paines, it feels like just yesterday they were sharing a laugh and their gallery couch with their summertime neighbor.
Evelyn Paine shares one of her favorite memories of Mrs. Bush's sense of humor:
It's a friendship that would have never been, if it weren't for one work of art.
"Just a miracle in our lives," as Evelyn Paine describes their decades long friendship.