Of Newsmen, Neighbors and Ninety-Five
We celebrate the season with a fat December issue filled with both substance and lighthearted fare. There are articles on New York banking superintendent Diana Taylor, the mayor’s lady; wild Larry Hoff, on-the-spot TV reporter; and the ever-thorny thruway. There are tips on gift giving, a forum on drug abuse among our young and an expanded Weddings department with a resource directory for future brides and grooms.
We didn’t include a story about President Bush’s visit to Riverside on Monday, September 25, to raise money for Connecticut Republicans. But since he stopped for lunch a few doors down the road from our house, people keep asking Jack and me what happened.
Well, the first thing was that the town cleaned up the street, removing the giant maple (a town tree) felled by a storm weeks before and lying in chunks in our front yard. Then sweeping machines arrived to polish the pavement. During the weekend, we could hear helicopters in practice flights over Binney Park, where Bush’s Marine One would land.
On D-Day, we woke to police motorcycles roaring up the road. Since it is a dead end, they couldn’t go far before having to turn around and race back to wherever they came from. Later, in fear they might hit some kid, I would be yelling “Slow down!” as they sped by.
A Greenwich police officer was stationed at the intersection. Planes and more helicopters buzzed overhead, scuba divers explored the waters nearby, and men with bomb-sniffing dogs checked our mailboxes and phone poles. Two dozen men hung out at the end of the road. Those in white shirts, we learned, were White House security personnel who travel with the President wherever he goes. As guests pulled up in their cars, they stepped out to be frisked (including Malcolm Pray. Where was my camera?) while every inch of their vehicles was inspected. A Secret Service fellow, wondering why I was standing so close to the action, asked if I was “going down to the Point.” I said, “No, I live here.” That satisfied him. I tried to chat, but he wasn’t into small talk.
There were only about sixty people lining one side of the road (as instructed) — mostly neighbors but a few who had sneaked through the bushes from elsewhere. Excited little kids had set up a lemonade stand, hoping the President would stop for a glass. Older boys waving big American flags exercised their skateboards. An Associated Press reporter with a notepad quietly queried us, including Betty Bonsal with her various antiwar signs. One neighbor asked her politely not to stand in her driveway. I told Betty she could stand in mine.
Then the motorcycles were back en masse followed by a twenty-car motorcade — limousines, squad cars, GEMS, the press, a van with a giant nipple on top (for broadcasting?), a large square truck (for bombs?). Somebody yelled: “I saw him!” Another thought she saw a hand waving. If so, I can’t imagine how. All the limo windows were jet black.
I don’t know what happened when President Bush took his leave after lunch. The Greenwich police had assured us that we weren’t held captive while he savored his sea bass, so Jack and I went to work. But it was a colorful, once-in-a-lifetime experience. My only question: Why couldn’t the White House just write out a check for $600,000 to the Connecticut GOP? This cost us taxpayers bundles more than that.
Hope your holidays are warm, wonderful and won’t break the bank.