KENNEBUNKPORT (NEWS CENTER Maine) — The Bush family has been a presence in Kennebunkport since long before George H.W. and Barbara Bush moved in.
Walker’s Point has been in the family for generations, and it became a significant player in a special Maine love story — one that started more than 70 years ago.
"Hello, I’m Barbara Bush. And I’m Poppy Bush, Yale."
The year? 1948. Barbara and George Bush featured in a television commercial for the Bates Textile Mill. In it, they promote a new line of curtains and bedspreads. The voice says, "they are the perfect accent to rooms for college coeds everywhere. Here you see the Bush’s entertaining."
Married and in college, the young Bushes represented the target audience: young, happy, socially involved. Their commercial was a piece of what would become a lifetime endeavor: helping a Maine company thrive.
Just a mile down from the family compound, Sonny Hutchins understands that Bush community endeavor. Hutchins is 89 and has run Port Lobster for most of the past 63 years.
"Some days they’d get haddock, sometimes they’d get swordfish, whatever was here, lobster meat," he said.
Sonny caddied for the president’s grandfather when he was a boy, and later he played regularly with "41" at Cape Arundel Golf Course.
Mr. and Mrs. Bush, Sonny Hutchins explained, could be seen strolling freely through the streets of Kennebunkport.
"No one would bother them. No one asked them for an autograph. They just belonged here and were always so happy here."
He said Barbara Bush often picked out the fish for her family’s dinner herself.
"Very nice. She’s a great lady," Hutchins nodded his head remembering. "If you talked to either of them for a minute or two they’d make you feel welcome, like you’d known them all your life. Very easy to talk to."
It’s a description echoed by many around this coastal town.
"She’s pretty much down to earth and amazing," said one person.
Lisa Mills also has a special Barbara Bush Bond: She’s a singer with the group Women of Note.
From Walker’s Point to the White House, the group has performed at Bush functions for the past 15 years. One she remembers fondly: President Bush’s 90th birthday party.
"We sang his favorite: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," she said, laughing. "It was a ball."
Mills has shared dog walks on the nearby beach with the former first lady and shares a funny story dog lovers can appreciate.
"One time my dog went to the bathroom and I picked it up in the bag and she said, ‘give me the bag, I’ll throw it away for you,’ and I said, 'no, there is no way I am going to allow a first lady to pick up my dog’s poop.' She said, 'I'm going up there anyway with my own dog’s stuff.' And she grabbed it from my hand."
But what really grabbed her happened off the beach at a very difficult time of Mills’ life. She received a handwritten sympathy card from Barbara Bush after her husband died.
"From her expressing how she’d been thinking of me. I was so touched I reached out to the chief of staff to say thank you," Mills shared, eyes filling over the sweet memory. "They invited me over for a hug."
It was a gesture and a moment that helped her heal — a Barbara Bush moment she will hold onto forever.