Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Cruising through memories of Barbara Bush

THE FAMILY has been considering a sea cruise. I was all for it, figuring that with the continued spring-like weather we have been having, now would be the time for the Caribbean.

“Spring-like” weather is just what we have been having, by the way. It is in fact spring, and the weather in New Hampshire in spring can be anything from 75 and sunny to, as it was a week ago, freezing and snowing.

The boys had just finished up at the posh and exclusive Derryfield Country Club. The temperature had dropped, and I told them I hoped this wouldn’t be the last round before winter. I was kidding, but now I’m not so sure.

So the cruise idea was appealing. Drinks with little umbrellas. Soothing sea breezes. Dining at the captain’s table. Maybe a peek at the Southern Cross out on the deck in the evening?


I was informed that this cruise would be in the North Atlantic. In late April. Wasn’t that when the Titanic ran into a bit of trouble?

I had been dreaming of a bit of ice in a tall glass, not an iceberg.

Ike, Mike, and Spike are also planning on the cruise, in ways not unlike my own.

“Pop-pop,” Spike told me with some excitement. “There is a phone on the ship and you talk into it and they bring you food!”

I hope they have hot chocolate.

The death last week of Barbara Bush made me think of a time I interviewed her just before her husband lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton.

She was the gracious, funny, spirited person we have all read about since her death. And this was near the end of a long campaign day in Maine and New Hampshire.

She joked about one of her granddaughters wearing a Barbara Bush mask that Halloween. “She’s going as a witch, Barbara Bush!” she said.

And she got serious when I asked her what she most admired about the job her husband, George H.W. Bush, had done as President.

She said it was his “showing the world that it could form a coalition of free nations to defeat a dictator.”

“There will be no more Hitlers,” she said, referring to the Desert Storm coalition against Iraq and Saddam Hussein. “It’s taken the burden off the back of America alone and put it on all the free world. I think he will go down in history as a great President for that reason.”

The elder Bush didn’t get the chance to top that achievement in a second term. But he and his wife had each other for many years thereafter, and they clearly made the most of it.

Write to Joe McQuaid at or on Twitter at @deucecrew.