Originally published in 2018.
It was fall 1991. I received a frantic call from a local PR firm. Could I get them a gray tracksuit for Springer Spaniel and monogram it Millie? Oh, and they needed it the next day.
For those of you not around in the 90s this could mean only one thing, a gift for Barbara Bush. You see back then Millie was a cultural phenomenon. Mrs. Bush had just published “Millie’s Book”. A tale (tail?) of life in the White House from the point of view of the First Dog. The book was an immediate hit, number one on the New York Times Bestseller list, spending 23 weeks on Publishers Weekly’s hardcover bestseller list. Proceeds of over a million dollars went to a literacy campaign that was Barbara Bush’s main focus during her time as First Lady.
Luckily I did have needed item since, at the time, I owned an upscale pet accessory boutique and dog biscuit bakery called Happy Tails located in University Park, an in-town suburb of Dallas. My shop was one of the first in the country to bake all-natural dog biscuits.
Grabbing a tracksuit that I hoped would fit, I frantically called around, finally finding someone who could monogram it in time. The next afternoon a representative from the PR firm picked it up. I was promised a photo but it unfortunately never arrived.
I have always admired Barbara Bush. She had the unfortunate position of being First Lady between the glamorous Nancy Reagan and the policy wonk that is Hillary Clinton. Considered just a “housewife”, many Americans viewed her as a dowdy woman subservient to her husband. Few knew then that she was the power center for a family dynasty and would be a chief advisor for two presidents. Dowdy housewife she certainly wasn’t.
The world has lost one of the best of the “Greatest Generation”. Family was priority one. The spotlight never dazzled her. I will always admire her determination, straight talk, sense of humor and humility and hope to emulate those traits in my life. Although I never got to meet her I will always be proud to have had the distinction of dressing Millie. 92 years is a pretty good run.