by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND--You would think that next week's visit has a lot to do with more and more people wanting to visit President Bush's childhood stomping grounds. But the truth is, interest has been there all along.
"We've had people from 43 countries, 3 U.S. territories, all 50 states," Paul St. Hilaire, Executive Director of the Bush Childhood Home, said.
Visitors are literally coming from all over to get a glimpse of history. If the early numbers are any indication, St. Hilaire says, 2009 is going to be a great year, "We had a record November and December and we've started out January absolutely fantastic with tremendous amounts of people coming through."
He went on to say that President Bush's visit next week has had little to do with the jump in number, "The interest in seeing the home, while the President was still President, has been high. Those that want to see it before he steps out of office."
A trend he hopes will continue long after Mr. Bush has left office, "I imagine that after he is out of office, those that are more interested in the historical aspect of seeing a home that belongs to a former President, will also be high."
Another Bush home in the Basin, is also getting more visitors. According to Presidential Museum Administrator, Lettie England, "It's more to do with President Bush and Barbara and little George coming to Odessa in 1948 that our visitors find so very interesting."
Like the Midland home, there's much history in Odessa too. "It's where they had their first family Christmas, was in this home," England explained.
If you've never visited the Bush home in Midland, St. Hilaire is sure you'll find something there to enjoy, "We do provide, basically, a tour of the home that touches on three aspects, which are the Bush family, the restoration itself, and living in 1950's Midland. There's something of interest for everyone."
If you are interested in tickets for next week's reception for President Bush, you can get those tickets at any Kent Kwik location, the Midland Chamber of Commerce, Midland City Hall, or at The Bush Childhood Home, on West Ohio. Those tickets, however, are not available at the Odessa Presidential Museum.