- Tom Seligson remembered a more innocent time after he
watched President Bush rally people with a bullhorn from atop the
mound of rubble where the World Trade Center used to be.
``When I saw him after 9/11 with the bullhorn, it fit,'' said
Seligson, who attended prep school with Bush. ``His response to
terrorism was grabbing a bullhorn at ground zero, basically
challenging us to rise above it. This was no different from the
George -- the cheerleader with a megaphone at Andover -- of 40
But the Bush known then by his classmates at the exclusive prep
school and at Yale University and the Bush known now around the
world are two distinct figures -- one seemingly carefree and
privileged, the other burdened by the pressures of the Oval
Yet those early years -- from Bush's entry into Andover in 1961
to his graduation from Yale in 1968 -- did much to shape his
character and form beliefs that many said he took to the White
``Andover and Yale, in many ways, have a greater import in
shaping the core personality of Bush than any other period,'' said
Bill Minutaglio, the author of ``First Son: George W. Bush and the
Bush Family Dynasty. ``It not only shaped his worldview as an
adult and his public policy as a politician. If Bush's policy is
about going it alone, defining the world in black and white, you
could say it started back then.''
George W. Bush was called many things during his high school
and collegiate days, but ``future president of the United States''
wasn't one of them.
He was nicknamed ``Lip'' by Andover classmates for his
wisecracking ways at the then-all-boys Massachusetts boarding
school. He dubbed himself ``Tweeds Bush'' -- after the infamous
Boss Tweed of New York Tammany Hall fame -- while others called
him the ``High Commissioner of Stickball'' for organizing teams to
play rollicking games on the usually staid campus.
His teachers called him an earnest but unspectacular student;
he earned a zero on the first paper he wrote at Andover, for using
a word that appalled the professor.
Despite his family's political pedigree, few people saw any
sign in young George of an ambition to end up in the White House.
What they saw was a fun-loving fraternity prankster more
interested in partying than politics, and a person eager to shed
the shadow of his father.
Some Bush friends think that's overly simplistic. They say his
affability overshadowed his intelligence and obscured the budding
political skills that he employs today: an ability to get people
to like and support him, a knack for organization and a fierce
determination to stand firm in his beliefs.
``He's very street-smart, and
people always underestimate him,'' said Lanny Davis, a Yale
fraternity brother of Bush's who went on to help President Clinton
through several White House scandals. ``He was one of the
friendliest, most down-to-earth, unpretentious people at Yale,''
said Davis, who likes Bush personally but loathes his policies.
Bush's path from adolescence to adulthood began in the same
place as his father's: Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. The
elder George Bush was a campus legend: senior class president,
captain of the baseball team and a student who bucked the advice
of Secretary of War Henry Stimson, Andover's 1942 commencement
speaker, and put off college to enlist in the Navy and enter World
Bush the father was a man of New England, the son of Sen.
Prescott Bush of Connecticut. Though George W. Bush also was born
in Connecticut, he was very much a child of Texas, having been
raised in Midland and Houston.
When the 15-year-old Bush arrived at Phillips in 1961, he found
the transition from Texas to New England daunting in terms of
climate and attitude.
`A long way from home'
``Andover was cold and distant and difficult,'' Bush wrote in
his political biography, ``A Charge to Keep.'' ``In every way, I
was a long way from home.''
Bush said he had to adjust from the ``happy chaos'' of the Bush
household in Texas to Andover's discipline.
``We wore coats and ties to class,'' he wrote. ``We went to
chapel every day, except Wednesday and Saturday. There were no
girls. Life was regimented. . . . I missed my parents and brothers
and sister. It was a shock to my system.''
Bush also was struggling in class. For his first essay -- on
emotions -- he wanted to impress his ``Eastern professors'' by
using ``big, impressive words.'' Looking for a way to describe
``tears'' running down his face, he consulted the Roget's
Thesaurus that his mother had given him. He replaced ``tears''
with the word ``lacerates.''
The teacher marked the paper with a zero so bold that ``it left
an impression all the way through the back of the blue book,''
Tom Lyons, who taught history and was one of Bush's favorite
teachers at Andover, said Bush tried hard in class but struggled
to keep up at the academically formidable school.
``He did not stand out,'' said Lyons, who retired in 1999 after
35 years at Andover. ``He was just a solid kid who worked hard and
did average work.''
Yale wasn't the comfortable cocoon for Bush that Andover had
been, several of his friends and classmates said. The Vietnam War
and America's domestic strife were spilling onto college campuses.
Bush, by his own admission, was not an active participant in the
social changes swirling around him.
``I was not part of the flower-child revolution,'' he told
Knight Ridder in 1999. ``I was concerned, but I wasn't marching in
the streets. I didn't go to Woodstock.''
Minutaglio said Bush ``chose to isolate himself from the very
complex issues of the day. It seems he deliberately, almost
defiantly, withdrew into a world he was most comfortable with,
almost a 1950s world.''
Bush embraced the traditional
college life -- with gusto. He joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon
fraternity and, like his father, was initiated into Skull and
Bones, a secretive, high-status campus social club.
Bush was arrested in 1966 on
disorderly-conduct charges arising from the theft of a Christmas
wreath from a storefront to decorate the fraternity house. The
charges later were dropped.
DKE had a reputation for hearty
partying, and Bush was its president in 1966-67.
``There was a `draft Bush' movement
because it was a job of being socially comfortable and attracting
the best women on campus,'' Davis said. ``He succeeded. DKE had
the best parties.''
Bush became known for an ability to move effortlessly among the
different groups on campus. He began displaying a politician's
knack for remembering names, faces and events that would enable
him to talk to people he had met months before as if it were only
``I thought I was outgoing, knowing 65-70 people,'' said
Livingston Miller, a Yale friend of Bush's. ``Bush knew 700. He
knew their names, their relationships and their pasts. He was good
at connecting people to events. It's prodigious.''
Though he praises Bush's partying
skills at Yale, Davis said it was a mistake to think of Bush back
then as strictly a good-time Charlie. He said Bush was gifted with
``analytical people skills'' that allowed him to sum up someone
Bush also was sensitive. Davis recalled sitting with Bush and
some other schoolmates in their dorm talking about people when one
of them began razzing a male student, who he thought was gay, as
he walked by.
``Someone made a snickering comment and used the word `queer,'
'' Davis said. ``Bush turned and told the guy who made the remark,
`Look at walking in the other guy's shoes.' I'll never forget