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And I'm Renee Montagne. This time next week, President Bush and his wife, Laura, will be waking up as private citizens for the first time since 1995. They'll be at their ranch in Crawford, Texas, but they won't be staying there for long. NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports, the Bushes also bought a home in their old neighborhood in Dallas.
WADE GOODWYN: It's one o'clock on a beautiful January Sunday afternoon, and in front of the Bushes' new home there is an endless parade of cars filled with well-dressed Dallasites, fresh from church service, their heads leaning out rolled-down windows.
Everyone better look while the looking is good. This little section of Dallas's Preston Hollow neighborhood is about to become a gated community, courtesy of the United States Secret Service. You won't be hopping out of your Chevy Suburban into Mr. Bush's front yard and snapping your cell phone pictures then, that's for sure.
Mr. PRESTON BARRY: Well, we're certainly annoyed by all the traffic and the gawkers, but we're very excited that the president and the first lady are moving back to Dallas and that they've chosen this neighborhood.
GOODWYN: Preston Barry and his family have just moved in down from the Bushes two weeks ago, only to find out they weren't going to be the neighborhood's only new arrivals. There are quite a few lawns with yard signs that say "Welcome Home George and Laura." A young Republican who lives in the neighborhood had them printed up. There was some debate about whether the signs' familiar use of George and Laura might be a tad disrespectful, but in the end it was thought to be acceptably Texan in style. Barry says this neighborhood is full of Republicans, after all.
Mr. BARRY: It has been a tough eight years, but we're very proud of the president and the tough choices he's made, and feel like he's been a wonderful president.
GOODWYN: The Bush house is a red-brick, one-story ranch with slate tile roof. But the home's modest curb appeal hides its true size and luxurious appointments. D Magazine reporter Candy Evans, whose online blog is called "Dallas Dirt," broke the biggest story of her career when she scooped where the Bushes were going to live. Everyone wanted to see.
Ms. CANDY EVANS (Reporter, D Magazine): It is 8,501 square feet, probably a his and her office, and you have a couple of guest rooms. There are quarters above the garage, which can be developed into, you know, a guest house or security detail. Eighty-five hundred square feet, I know it sounds like a lot, but actually that's not a really huge home. When you start talking 15 and 20 thousand, those are the big mamas.
GOODWYN: The Bush property backs up to that of one of Dallas' richest men, Tom Hicks. Hicks owns the Major League Baseball team the Texas Rangers, the hockey team the Dallas Stars, and the European soccer team Liverpool FC, among other substantial holdings. There's a rumor that now that the Bushes have moved next door, the billionaire is planning on building a helipad for their convenience. But outside the Republican enclaves of Preston Hollow, the ranch in Crawford, and his hometown of Midland in West Texas, where Mr. Bush grew up, Texans' feelings about the president are considerably more diverse. Bruce Buchanan is a government professor at the University of Texas, an expert on presidential politics.
Professor BRUCE BUCHANAN (Government, University of Texas): He wanted to be a difference maker as president. He wanted to be a transformational leader and not a steady-state or incremental leader. And by golly he threw a lot of long passes, although most of them were incomplete.
GOODWYN: In Dallas, Mr. Bush will have a new presidential library to build and a controversial legacy to defend. But first, George and Laura Bush will begin their new life by spending some quiet time in the familiar surroundings of their hill country ranch. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.
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