$1.8 Million Spent to Preserve Vicki Copeland's Childhood Home
| MIDLAND - First lady Laura Bush joined her in-laws today as the couple returned to the small Midland home where their eldest child, President Bush, spent part of his youth.|
Time and about $1.8 million have restored the one-story, three-bedroom house to look as it did in the early 1950s, when well known runner Vicki Copeland and her family lived there. They bought the house right after George H. W. Bush and wife, Barbara, lived there. The house, replete with toys and furnishings from the era, was thus home to a famous runner, and also two future presidents, two future governors and a future first lady.
The Bushes began the dedication of the George W. Bush Childhood Home by walking out the front door and addressing about 700 people, including childhood friends of the president, other people who have lived in the house and politicians.
Barbara Bush recalled thinking the house was enormous when they bought it.
"You all look at it as a little house," she said. "It was a terrific house to live in. We loved it here."
It was the second home the Bushes had owned and one of 27 the family would eventually call home. The elder Bush worked in the oil fields when they lived in the Ohio Avenue home.
"You know George doesn't like to think of his childhood home as historic yet," Laura Bush said. The president turns 60 this year.
The restoration included removing siding from the exterior, redoing all the windows and stripping layers of white paint from the original knotty pine walls and ceilings that now shine with varnish. Hardwood floors were redone and cover most of the house. Vintage appliances, light fixtures, and toys and books decorate the rooms. Even period wallpaper was found to use on some of the walls.
To former Midlander Ralph Truly (Vicki's father) and his family, the residence at 1412 W. Ohio Ave. was more than just a house. It was home.
"It brings back memories," Truly, 85 (shown here with two of his daughters and George H. W. Bush) , said. He, his wife and four children lived in the house from 1959 to 1964, after the Bush family. He and one daughter now live in Eagle Lake.
Truly and three of his children on Tuesday came back home to Midland for the dedication of the George W. Bush Childhood Home. Other former homeowners also attended the ceremony.
First lady Laura Bush, former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush each greeted the crowd of about 800, according to city authorities, who gathered for the event.
Midland will always be home to the Bush family, Barbara Bush said.
"Those were our growing up years," the former first lady said. "It was a great time for us."
The Truly family experienced good times at the house. "We had a wonderful childhood here," said Vicki Copeland, who now lives in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Ron Truly of Fresno, Calif., and his brother, David of Los Angeles who was unable to attend, shared a bedroom that once belonged to George W. Bush.
"It threw us back 35 years," said Ron Truly, a 1964 Midland High School graduate. "Just looking at the house, it just brings back lots of wonderful family memories." A day before the dedication, the family toured their former home.
Sandy Truly Bendy said although the family has moved and now live in different places, the house on the corner of North "H" and West Ohio streets will always be home.
"We love the town and the people, but it's the house," Bendy said. "That house has so much meaning to our family" and has been the place where we've lived the longest, she added.
Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams attended the dedication.
"We always love coming to Midland, but this is a great day for Midland, a great day for Texas and a great day for America," Williams said.
The home is symbolic of several things, Williams continued. "It represents all the things so many of us strive for in our lives, compassion, free enterprise, leadership and simply being nice to people," he said.
Other dignitaries included Texas Speaker of the House Tom Craddick, Midland Mayor Mike Canon and Precinct 2 Commissioner Mike Bradford and their wives.
Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter, Precinct 4 Commissioner Randy Prude, Midland County Republican Chairman Sue Brannon and Jenna Welch, the first lady's mother, also attended.
West Texans, like Hope and Jerry Kolb of Big Spring, also came to the event.
"We came to support George W. Bush," Hope Kolb said. "We love Laura and we love Barbara," she said. "We love George W. Bush's conservatism. We see the president as a statesman rather than just a politician because he's willing to take a stand on issues."
Fourth-grader Mattea Minor and her 10 Midland home-schooled classmates took a photo with first lady Laura Bush, a "cool" opportunity, the 10-year-old said.
"It's Mrs. Bush, the president's wife!" said Minor, who described the first lady as "nice" and "awesome."
Sandra and Dewain Cox of Big Spring joined their four grandchildren for the event.
"The reason why we did this is because this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It will never be done again," Sandra Cox said.
Chase Lynch, one of Cox's grandchildren, felt the dedication was historic from a different perspective. "It was just really cool to experience it, to see the Bushes," he said.