President George Bush loved his Kennebunkport, Maine, seaside home, and returned there often for R&R. But Bush's idea of R&R was not in the "beach potato" mode.
Returning from a Maine weekend during the Bush Presidency, Newsweek photographer John Ficara discussed the weekend activity with me...
"So, John, how was the weekend?"
"Jesus Christ, it was awful, it was incredibly awful, I can't believe how awful it was, I hope I never see that place again," Ficara replied.
"First damn thing was," Ficara responded, "the beeper went off at 6am--- report to the press center. It was still dark, and it was raining and the President wanted to play golf--- so we get to the golf course and, naturally since it was raining, Bush invited the pool to walk with him..."
"So, then what happened?"
Ficara launched into his reply, "we finished the golf---soaking wet---motorcaded the President back to his house and were just getting ready to go back to the hotel for a change of clothes when the goddamn beeper went off again saying to report to the press center, which we did---still soaking wet. There, the handlers said we're heading to the airport to get on a helicopter and we're going to Boston. I mean, can you freakin' believe that---it's 10 o'clock in the morning, we've already done 18 holes of golf, we're drenched, and now we're gonna chopper to Boston."
"We fly to Boston in the rain and fog, get wetter when we land at Logan, motorcade to something that's not really "open" but we get two minutes of worthless pictures at the beginning, then wait for Bush for two hours in the cars. By now our clothes are not only still wet, they're not drying, and we're now getting chilled because the weather's changing to a cold, settling-in steady rain."
"God, what next?" I asked.
"Well, we get on the choppers, fly back to Kennebunkport, board the motorcade, and we don't even get back to the compound---it's two o'clock in the afternoon---and they say Bush wants to go fishing. So they take us to the place in back of that old restaurant and we get out of the cars. We're still soaking wet and the rain continues to fall. We're there a couple hours while the President, along with a couple agents, wades upstream and we sort of follow at a distance. Finally, he heads back to the starting point and we're thinking---at last, this has gotta be it, surely. We're finally gonna get out of these clothes, put on something warm and dry, and get something to eat and drink," Ficara shuddered.
"Okay, now what?"
Ficara continues, "Well, it's about 4pm, maybe 4:30pm and we're just starting to think about chilling, when they say we're going back to the goddamn golf course---and so we did. Now we're following Bush, who's laughing and having a ball, and we're struggling along behind him, because of course we've been invited to walk with him," John sighs. "And it continues to rain and we continue to walk... but finally it gets dark, and we quit and head for the cars and it's after 6pm when we leave him at the compound."
"So, it sounds like the day is finally over," I interjected. "What happened next?"
Ficara's response was hardly more audible
than a whisper, as if he were trying to forget while explaining,"they took
us in the vans from the compound to the Shawmut [Hotel] and it was stone-cold
quiet, people hardly believing the day was over. Though still cold and
wet, I didn't go to my room. Instead, I went straight to the bar and drank
four double martinis, didn't eat, went to bed, pulled all the blankets
up over me and fell asleep. I hope I never ever go to Kennebunkport again.
That guy's crazy."
Wally McNamee is Newsweek's senior
photographer, based in Washington
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