A Texas Cafe Recounts Bush Vacations In Crawford
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
Crawford, Texas is getting ready to slip out of the limelight. This is the final day of George Bush's last summer vacation as president on his Crawford ranch. He's visited 75 times as president, and so have a bevy of foreign leaders from Tony Blair to Vladimir Putin to Crown Prince Abdullah.
Valerie Citrano has been watching the parade of visitors and serving them fried jalapeÃ±o slices. She runs The Coffee Shop Cafe - it's about six miles down the road from the ranch in McGregor, Texas and that's where she's joining us from. Ms. Citrano, thanks for being with us.
BLOCK: Hi. Thanks for having me.
BLOCK: I'm looking at your menu online and it says right here, fried jalapeÃ±o slices - one of First Lady Laura Bush's favorite appetizers.
BLOCK: That's right. The president likes the chicken fried steak and the coconut meringue pie, too. And we're happy to serve them whenever they either come or call for an order.
BLOCK: Does it feel today, would this, the last day of his summer vacation - does it feel like the air is going out a little bit?
BLOCK: Well, not really going out. It's just a little nostalgic today that - knowing that this is the last time that our friends at the press corps and the helicopter squad or in the Air Force One and all of the staff and members that have become such close friends of ours. This is - maybe the last time we get to see them.
BLOCK: They do feel like friends.
BLOCK: Oh, yes, definitely. It's quite amazing. One of the young men that served the president in the military with the helicopter squadron, for years, would come to our house for Christmas or Thanksgiving. Their parents have even sent their Christmas gifts to our home for them to open under our tree.
BLOCK: Some of them even feel like surrogate sons as well.
BLOCK: Who else have you met over the years?
BLOCK: Oh, it's been an incredible list. John Howard, the prime minister of Australia, came into my shop while it was still in Crawford and actually bought a coffee mug for Tony Blair for his 50th birthday. And then, every news media person, from, you know, Fox News to CBS to, you know, Barbara Walters, we've been - had the pleasure of meeting them also. So it's been a very interesting and wonderful thing to happen to such a small community.
BLOCK: What's it been like for the kids in town to have all of this hubbub around them? Do you think they've gotten sort of jaded about it?
BLOCK: Well, it's a normal occurrence now to see, you know, the Secretary of State or any kind of cabinet member just - they walk into the restaurant and sit down. And they're treated just like everybody else in town. The president has been wonderful about including the community, especially the school children, for things like, when Vladimir Putin came to town, the high school kids were the ones that asked the questions to the president and President Putin. So, world events here are more like local events and not just something that you see on the news.
BLOCK: Well, the Bushes, I gather, are planning to keep the ranch. So you likely would be seeing them again, just not into the presidential seal necessarily.
BLOCK: Well, we don't normally look at him as, you know, the suit and tie and jacket kind of president that you see on the television. We see him a little more down to earth and joking and he's himself when he's in town. I'll be looking forward to seeing him at our roundtable in the morning, just sipping his coffee, to see him a little more, a little more relaxed, that part will be good.
BLOCK: Well, Valerie Citrano, it's good to talk to you. Thanks very much.
BLOCK: Thanks for having me.
BLOCK: Valerie Citrano and her husband run The Coffee Shop Cafe in McGregor, Texas, that's six miles from Crawford, where George Bush just finished his last summer vacation as president on his ranch.