Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The Presidents And Vulcain - George Bush The Elder

The presentation of a Vulcain Cricket to George Herbert Walker Bush (President 41) did not provide the same logistical challenges as the one sent to his presidential predecessor. The Paajanens dispatched a Vulcain Cricket to the US Embassy in Helsinki.

Official White House Portrait - Credit White House and National Archives
The watch was received, and a thank you letter sent -

Letter Courtesy of Paajanen Family Collection
President Bush (the Elder) was presented with a Vulcain Cricket like this one -

Courtesy Paajanen Family Archives
There are no reported sightings of President Bush wearing the Cricket, and like the one presented to President Reagan, it most likely found its way to the Office of Protocol where it likely still remains to this day.

But none of this really tells us much about the man himself, who like John Adams would only serve 1 term, and also like John Adams, his son would follow in his footsteps to become a future President.  

George Bush in many ways was a bit of an anachronism. On the one hand, it is safe to say that he was "born under a lucky star".  He grew up in what was in all honesty, a fairly wealthy family in Greenwich, CT and attending Phillips Academy in Andover, MA which at the time was one of the most elite boarding schools in the US. And if you hit the pause button there, you would be forgiven for thinking - "Born with a silver spoon in his mouth". But there was a fair bit more to George H.W. Bush than that. 

Around the time most of us are thinking about high school graduation, getting out on our own, maybe going to college? Well for George H.W. Bush that plan took on a whole new meaning when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Rather than enjoying a "Grand Tour" in Europe as Philips Academy graduates might have done in the 20s and 30s, George H.W. Bush turned 18 on the 12th of June and promptly enlisted in the US Navy with the intention of becoming a naval aviator. And it was here that history might have changed dramatically, as he was shot and had to bail out of his plane over the Pacific. He managed to pull himself into a small life raft and we ultimately picked up by a submarine, the USS Finback.

Following the war, he returned home, married in 1945, and managed to graduate from Yale Phi Beta Kappa in a little over half time time of the typical 4 year course of study through an accelerated program.

He eventually moved into the political scene with somewhat mixed results, finally winning a congressional seat (from Texas) and then losing a second bid for the US Senate in 1970. Following this, he then was appointed the US Ambassador to the United Nations, followed by a stint in China and finally he was made the head of the CIA, where he served for one year. And then fate would take another turn.

Although unsuccessful in his own bid for to be the Presidential candidate on the Republican ticket in the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan selected him as his running mate, and he served for 2 terms as Vice President. He won the 1988 election, and served one term.

And like so many Presidents before and since, he found a second life, where he truly embraced public service, even befriending his political rival and successor in the White House, Bill Clinton as they joined forces to help in the aftermath of the tsunami in 2004. 

The next President to receive a Vulcain Cricket actually preceded both Reagan and Bush in the White House. And the Cricket was set to land on perhaps the most unlikely person ever (at least to that time) to sit at the desk in the Oval Office.

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