Meeting Laura - Backyard Barbeque
Joe O'Neill had married Laura [Welch]'s grade school friend Jan Donnelly in 1972. The couple began finagling to get their friends together when George came back to Midland in 1975, but Laura kept putting them off. She seemed happy enough in Austin, where she was the librarian at the Mollie Dawson Elementary school, where the kids were mostly poor and Hispanic.
"Laura had a sense that she and George were utter opposites, but she also knew why Jan kept bugging her. 'Well,' she said, with a smile and a shrug, 'I guess it was because we were the only two people from that era in Midland who were still single.' So she finally gave in and one evening in the middle of August 1977, home for a visit with her parents, she went over to Joe and Jan's for a backyard barbeque. And there he was. The O'Neills figured George liked Laura right away, because even then he was a man who wanted his sleep so he could get up and run in the morning and he usually left their house around nine. That evening, he stayed until midnight. He talked nonstop. She seemed to hang on every word."
("The Perfect Wife" by Ann Gerhart, pages 46-47)
Laura "knew they both had gone to seventh grade at San Jacinto Junior High, although she couldn't say she had noticed him. He later claimed he had always noticed her, but Laura doesn't necessarily believe him, George being a winker and a charmer in just that way."
("The Perfect Wife," page 47)
"Incredibly, she and Bush lived in the same apartment complex, the Chateau Dijon, in southwest Houston during the time he was flying for the Texas Air National Guard, but they never met."
("Fortunate Son," page 58)
"She lived on the quiet side of the Chateau Dijon; I lived on the loud side, where we played volleyball in the pool until late at night. She was teaching school; I was flying jets for the Texas Air National Guard...Our paths never crossed."
(George W. Bush, "A Charge to Keep," pages 79-80)
Laura "was on the liberal side and considered herself a Democrat, as were her parents."
("Laura Bush," page 62)
One of the reasons Laura didn't want to meet him before this barbeque was that she was "wary of the Bush family business...'I thought he was real political, and I wasn't interested.'...She certainly always voted - Democratic."
("The Perfect Wife," page 47)
"She was...a Yellow Dog Democrat who thought that Lady Bird Johnson was the finest First Lady the country had ever known. Laura...said she became a Republican only by marriage."
("The Family," Kitty Kelley, page 357)
Bush did read Barry Goldwater's "Conscience of a Conservative," (and believed in its message), so indeed, as Laura suspected, their political views were diametrically opposed at that time. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/wh2000/stories/bush072999.htm)
It was actually W's formidable grandmother, Dorothy Walker Bush, who, when meeting her for the first time, asked Laura what she did -- "I read," Laura replied. But W's mother, Barbara Bush, later insisted that her actual words were -- "I read and I smoke and I admire." In any case, the entire Bush clan was impressed by her independence and self-possession in the face of the family's matriarch. The dialogue was used in this scene for dramatic purposes.
("The Family," page 356)
"I thought that they would be good together because they were both really intelligent, savvy people," Jan O'Neill said..."They both had a great sense of humor. They both loved to laugh and tell jokes...I knew the next night when she agreed to go out to play miniature golf with him that it was mutual..."
"Laura was never one to say, 'Oh, my God, who am I going to find?'" [her friend] Regan Gammon said. "She came back from that weekend in Midland and said, 'I had dinner with this guy George Bush. I kinda like him. He kinda likes me.' Then he started coming to Austin. A lot."
...Jan O'Neill said, "Then six weeks later, she called me and said they were getting married. She was excited. They were making plans. They weren't going to let any grass grow under their feet."
("Laura Bush," page 65)
"We were really ready to get married," Laura recalled. "It just went a lot faster than it would have if we had met at the Chateau Dijon...I think we were both happy to find each other."
"He was struck by lightning when he met her," Barbara Bush said.
W says their blind date "has to be described as love at first sight," admitting that he was attracted to her because he found her to be "a very thoughtful, smart, interested person -- one of the great listeners. And since I'm one of the big talkers, it was a great fit."
("Fortunate Son," page 59)
They got married at the First United Methodist Church in Midland on November 5, 1977, the day after Laura's 31st birthday, and three months after they met at the O'Neill's barbeque.
("Laura Bush," page 68)