While most eyes are fixed on the presidential transition that will occur in Washington, the looming departure of George Bush is already having an effect on a town far from the nation’s capital.
For eight years, Crawford, Texas has been in the limelight; Bush owns a ranch there. Now, few visitors venture off the beaten track to visit the little town.
These days, the sparse traffic on Crawford’s Main Street is likely to be all local.
Bush’s image is still prominent in this cafe and general store, but the folks having lunch here no longer have to compete for a table with tourists.
Some here see George Bush as the man who, with his nearby ranch, put Crawford on the map. He remains popular here.
But over the past year or so his popularity nationwide has dropped and so has the the number of visitors.
Lyndon Lynch works in a quarry. He says he is not worried about Crawford no longer being ‘The Western White House.’ “Oh, I don’t know if it will change a whole lot,” Lynch said. “It was already slowing down it seemed like to me the last year or two.”
This once-popular souvenir shop is rarely open anymore.
Even the anti-war protesters are nowhere to be found. A few years back they established the Peace House just a few miles from the Bush ranch.
Lyndon Lynch like many Crawford residents liked the tourists but didn’t care much for the anti-Bush outsiders. “As long as you don’t have the protesters, I think it was alright having them here,” he said. “It was good for business… when the protesters were here that caused some problems.”
The one store that is hanging on is The Red Bull, a gift shop owned by Raydean Damon. “When President Bush came here, we looked on him not just as our president, but as one of our neighbors,” Damon said.
Damon’s business keeps going with occasional customers like Rene Linder from Switzerland.
Damon says the Bush’s decision to buy a house in Dallas diminishes the post-presidential role of Crawford.
But she hopes the couple will spend time here after they leave the White House so business stays afloat. “If it is just going to be a weekend vacation home for them, it probably is not going to bring in a lot of visitors,” she said.
But Crawford will endure regardless. The rural lifestyle that drew the Bush family continues to draw families from larger towns nearby, families, she says, interested in the strong family values that Crawford offers.