The day President Bush stopped at Marston’s Marina

Photo courtesy George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

By Randy Randall
For Points East

With the recent passing of our 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush, I’m reminded of the time he visited our little marina aboard one of his boats. This happened back in the ’90s, but my memory of the event is vivid even today.

The excitement began just after opening the office and putting up the flag. The dockmaster came running up the hill to get me. He said there was a weird message on the answering machine. It was from the President’s personal secretary. He’d left a number, so we called him back. He told us the President would be attending a golf match at the nearby Biddeford-Saco Country Club, and that Mr. Bush would like to come by boat from Kennebunkport and debark at Marston’s. We gulped and said, “Sure, we’d be honored.”

Within the hour two black SUV’s pulled into the marina parking lot. Guys wearing business suits and dark glasses got out and dispersed around the grounds. It was relatively early in the morning, so very few customers were on their boats. Within half an hour the black Secret Service Zodiac came motoring up around the bend. Behind it was Fidelity, carrying Mr. Bush. The Zodiac bristled with armed guards and a diver all suited up. Mr. Bush walked up our gangwalk, got into one of the SUV’s and was whisked away. Meanwhile the President’s boat and crew hung on our fuel dock while the Secret Service boat picked up a mooring in the river. A few hours passed and Mr. Bush returned. By now word of the President’s appearance had circulated among our customers and there was a small crowd of fans waiting on our dock. The President was gracious and stopped to shake a few hands. He stood beside Jimmy, our dockmaster, for a photograph, then turned to one of the local guys and said, “Where are the stripers?” For the next few minutes, Mr. Bush and Dave had an earnest sportsman’s discussion over the status of the striped bass.

Mr. Bush boarded Fidelity and the flotilla disappeared down around the bend in the river headed for the open sea. Jimmy was star struck. “I had my picture taken with the President,” he told anyone who’d listen. And Dave just stared at the dock and mumbled, “I talked fishing with the President of the United States.” By now the black SUV’s had also slipped away and we were left to ourselves pondering what the heck had just happened.

Later in the week we got a thank-you letter from the President’s secretary complimenting us on our marina, and thanking us for allowing #41 to use our docks.