Oak Ridge Boys Have Fond Memories of George and Barbara Bush
The Oak Ridge Boys were longtime friends of the Bush family and were among the luminaries to attend a celebration of life ceremony in honor of former First Lady Barbara Bush this past April.
They shared some fond recollections of the former First Lady in a press release on April 21, 2018 — memories which included George H. W. Bush, too. The 41st president of the United States died Friday night (Nov. 30) at the age of 94.
The Oaks' first interaction with the Bush family happened when George Sr. was Vice President under Ronald Reagan. Reagan had invited the Oaks to perform at the Congressional barbecue on the lawn of the White House, and that afternoon, then-Vice President Bush approached them.
"I can't be at the show tonight, fellas," he said, according to a press release. "But I love the Oak Ridge Boys, so could you sing a few songs before I go?"
That began a long relationship that has seen the Oak Ridge Boys visit the Bushes at their homes in Kennebunkport and Houston. The former First Couple attended many of the Oaks' live shows, most often at the Opera House in Galveston, Texas.
Joe Bonsall chronicled some of the private times the Oaks spent with President Bush in his book, On the Road With the Oak Ridge Boys.
"Once, while he was President, we were in the Oval Office with him, and he said, 'Hey, I have to show you where I listen to you fellows here… I have a new sound set that is just great,'" he recalls.
"Well, he leads us to a small private inner office right behind the Oval Office and he turns on the sound. Immediately 'Dig a Little Deeper in the Well' blares out of the speakers, and we are all grooving and laughing when I notice the RED PHONE on the desk. I was thinking, ‘Boy, if this rings he will never hear it!’"
Duane Allen shared a hilarious story about the Bush family's famous dog, Millie.
"We were eating dinner with the Bush family at Kennebunkport... Millie, the famous dog, was hanging around me because I had been playing with her. So, I gave her a bite from my food, and Barbara caught me," he recalls.
"She asked, 'What are you doing? Millie is on a strict diet, and you cannot give her food from the table.' I felt like crawling under the table. What Barbara did not know was this — earlier in the afternoon, I had been out on the deck, watching the ocean and enjoying just being outside. I was drinking sweet iced tea and eating pistachio nuts, throwing the nut shells over the deck wall, down the rocks that led to the ocean. Millie had been with me on the deck, and we became good friends quickly. What I did not know was that Millie would disappear and go around the deck wall, and eat those pistachio nut shells. I looked around and they were all gone — she had eaten all of those shells."
He adds, "Well, at the dinner table later on, Millie had come to me for more treats. I dared not tell Barbara that she had been eating pistachio nut shells all afternoon. I expected that she would get sick or die from those shells. Thank God she just passed them on!"
Barbara Bush died at the age of 92 after a long battle with COPD, the New York Times reports. Bush Sr. saw his fair share of health issues as well, and was close to death after his wife passed. However, he went on to become the first-ever U.S. president to live to the age of 94.
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