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Barbara Bush: Memorable, Above all


Barbara Pierce Bush was born in another era, and in many ways, it is a world she never really left. It was, in fact, the wild and raucous Roaring 20’s when baby Barbara first made her grand entrance. One could surmise that this uninhibited and licentious age made a lifetime mark on the woman who would become the 33rd-second lady and 34th first lady of the United States.

1920s Flapper

The 1920s in America was the age of the “flapper” where young ladies did, well, rather unladylike things. They drank. They smoked. And their sexuality emerged from behind their “short” dresses and bobbed hair. A foxy lady was called “a choice bit of calico,” a not so smart one a “Dumb Dora” and then there’s the “Hotsy-totsy” that captured a gentleman’s eye.

Of course, most of us remember Mrs. Bush as the gray-haired lady who looked for all the world like she was married to a much younger man.  The fourth cousin of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and President Franklin Pierce, and fifth cousin to James Garfield and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mrs. Bush didn’t need her husband’s lineage to be considered a blue-blood through and through.

In her own right, Barbara Pierce was quite the “dish” if not a downright catch, back in the day.  Largely born to the purple, Mrs. Bush was athletic, vibrant and yes beautiful.

She claims to have married the first man she ever kissed. And as with all things that came out of the mouth of Mrs. Bush there’s no reason to doubt her. In many ways, her direct, forthright manner made her an iconic American woman who always seemed ever ready to spill her unvarnished thoughts. Here are a few of her memorable quips:

Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is

Avoid this crowd like the plague. And if they quote you, make damn sure they heard you.

On Democratic candidate Geraldine Ferraro: I can’t say it, but it rhymes with rich. (often reported “as rhymes with “witch.”

People who worry about their hair all the time, frankly, are boring.

Although she came off as coarse and brusque, like most people, Barbara Bush had another, softer side that she saved for those who inhabited her private world. She was a tender and suffering mother who watched her young child slowly and painfully pass away and an adored and revered grandmother whose grandchildren openly weep when discussing the impact, she had on their lives.

And while it would seem that family was the be-all and end-all to Mrs. Bush, she had other loves – among them dogs and books that captured her favor. She established the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and authored two children’s books (about dogs, of course) as well as her best-selling memoir “Barbara Bush: A Memoir and Reflections: Life After the White House.”

As one who was known to speak her ever-sharp mind perhaps it is fitting that Mrs. Bush penned these words:

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed on more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.

Thus, it is appropriate that upon the passing of Barbara Pierce Bush she was surrounded by her closest family and friends.

Read More From Leesa K. Donner

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