Barbara Bush Reads
Grandfather's Trolley
at the Southern Maine Library District's
Summer Reading Program Celebration
held at the Seashore Trolley Museum.
August 24, 2001
Allison "Allie" Fiske was six-years-old when I photographed her in Grandfather's Trolley. Ten years later all of the book's characters and I gathered to hear Mrs. Bush read our book. We weren't the only ones. It was the largest event at the trolley museum in almost twenty years with 2,327 people present - 1,239 of them children.
Left to right
Bruce McMillan, Author and Photo-illustrator of the book.
Barbara Bush, Former First lady
Sixteen-year-old Allison "Allie" Fiske, the central character in the book
Richard "R.T." Lane, Jr., the grandfather in the book
John Mazzei, the conductor in the book
Phil Morse of the trolley museum organized the event
and was the master of ceremonies.

Shirley Helfrich, Director of the
Southern Maine Library District, greeted the district's young readers, their parents, librarians and general public. She reminded us of The Little Engine that Could and announced the winners of the Summer Reading Program.
I was asked to say a few words. I invited everyone to visit the newly-renovated Springvale Public Library where they can see nine of the original photographs on display in the Bruce McMillan Corner of the children's room.
I looked out at the crowd and said. "I'm a photographer. So I'm going to take a photograph." I pulled a camera out of my pocket and said, "Smile." The surprising thing, as you can see below, is that everyone smiled. I told the gathering that everyone could see the photo on my web site, so here it is.
I concluded by telling a story about a student at Kennebunk High School and the first photo that he sold. Why? Because that student was me and the photo I sold was a picture of the sunrise over a house at Walker's Point, Kennebunkport. Someone on the stage just happens to live in that house. Mrs. Bush told me that it was probably George's cousin who bought the photo. You can see the photo at About Bruce and His Books. With this as a lead-in, it was time to listen to Mrs. Bush's reading.

Barbara Bush Reads
Grandfather's Trolley
Her Asides
"When I married George Bush we were nineteen and twenty. After the war we went to Yale University and we took probably that trolley out to the Yale ball game every Saturday too. So I feel very happy to be here."
"Grandfather's Trolley written by..." Mrs. Bush paused and cupped her hand to her ear. The audience replied, "Bruce McMillan." Mrs. Bush nodded at the crowd and said, "Very sharp, audience."
"I remember... when I was a little girl I used to visit my grandfather at work. I waited and listened for the trolley. I'm not going to hold up the book because first of all you're way too far away and second Bruce wants you to buy it. And if you don't buy it go right to the public library and they'll have it."
"Grandfather always saved a seat in the last row over the eight just for me. Now what do you think 'over the eight' meant? I think it meant on the side of the trolley there was an eight." Mrs. Bush drew a figure 8 in the air, and then turned to me and asked, "Is that right Bruce?" I smiled and nodded yes. Mrs. Bush said to the audience, "So she sat over the eight."
Bruce McMillan - Shirley Helfrich - Barbara Bush
"Don't go too near the water. Now if you could see these pictures you would see the little girl's walking on the shore and she has a lighthouse in the back. It looks exactly like the lighthouse at Goat's Island? Is it?" Mrs. Bush looked at me and I nodded yes. She continued, "It is."
"I pretended that I was motoring the trolley car, just like Grandfather. Clackety..." Mrs. Bush cupped her hand up to her ear and leaned towards the audience. The crowd finished the trolley sound, "clackety, clackety-clack." Mrs. Bush read, "The woods sped by. I leaned back and squinted to keep the breeze out of my eyes. The trolley car swayed from side to side." Mrs. Bush held her hand to her ear. The crowd said somewhat indistinctly, "Clackety- clackety, clackety-clack." Mrs. Bush looked out at everyone and said, "Let's rehearse that once. It can be much better." She pointed her hand to the crowd and led everyone in unison, "Clackety- clackety, clackety-clack." Mrs. Bush continued, "Now when I raise my hand, if it ever comes up again in the book, help me." They did.
"I brought the power controls from one end of the car to the other, where Grandfather was waiting. 'Thank you, number one.' Now did you know that had to happen when you turn it around. You just take the controls and put it on the other end. So there are two fronts to this trolley."
"Grandfather jumped off and held out his arms. 'Free ride down for my number one helper.' His whiskers tickled when I hugged him. Now what do you say when your grandfather does something wonderful for you?" The crowd replied to Mrs. Bush, "Thank you grandfather." Mrs. Bush paused only for a second before she continued "And occasionally you say it to grandmother too."
"Before he started the trolley again, Grandfather watched me run home down the lane. I never had to look back to see if he was watching me. I just knew... That's very nice I think."
"He was my grandfather.
I love that story, Bruce.
I think that's a beautiful book."
When she finished reading, a trolley pulled alongside the stage. It was motored by the grandfather in the story and aboard were "Allie" and the conductor. Barbara, with a helping hand from Phil Morse, and I climbed aboard.
She met the book's characters. Also aboard were Allie's parents, Jim and Betsy Fiske, and her older sister. She met them all.

I handed Betsy my camera and asked her if she would take a snapshot of us. I thought back to ten years before when she'd done the same thing. The wonderful trolley photo of us at the top of this page is the one that Betsy took.
It was a great day. The weather was as sunny as the smiles on everyone's faces.
I was honored to have Barbara Bush read my book. She read it like she's been reading to children for years... and of course she has. Thank you Barbara Bush.

I must add that I was genuinely impressed with Mrs. Bush's nice way with people and her quick wit. She is one sharp lady.
It's time to go ride on the trolleys. But there may be... trouble on the tracks. Look who's taking a picture of Bruce, the author? Why, it's another author. It's Kathy Mallat, author and illustrator of Trouble on the Tracks. And there's her smiling daughter, Meghan.

It was especially nice to see my former students and published authors, Kathy Mallat and Jane Cowen-Fletcher with their families. Plus Victoria Emde, another former student who will hopefully be published soon, was present with her parents. They all got to meet and visit with each other. What a great day.

"Former First Lady Barbara bush was honorary guest reader for over 2,000 celebrants at Friday's Summer Reading event at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport. More photos in Community.

The photos on this page were taken by me, Todd Glickman and Phill Morse of the Seashore Trolley Museum, Allie's mother, Elizabeth Fiske, and also produced from image captures of a video made for me by Dr. Kathryn Button, a professor at Texas Tech University. For image use, contact me, Bruce McMillan.

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