Former bartender to the Bushes reflects on their kindness

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - "It's a big nostalgic being back here," said Mark Faries as he looks around at the bar at the University Club on the Texas A&M campus.

Twenty years ago, the bar had a different name, and it was where Faries would serve drinks to former President George H.W. Bush.

As an Aggie undergrad, Faries worked for campus dining services, meaning he also helped staff events at the couple's Bush Library apartment.

That's where Faries, who is now a professor and researcher at the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service, met Barbara.

"She came in and introduced herself," said Faries, "which I don't know why she had to but she did."

"She was so concerned that I was taken care of," Faries said with a laugh. "Was I hungry?"

And if Faries was hungry, Mrs. Bush would make him a sandwich--a pimento cheese sandwich.

"Just like your mother or grandmother," said Faries.

Over the months, Faries got to know the Bushes even better, through wuiet conversations with the president and kind interactions with the First Lady.

"I guess that was weird to me, right?" said Faries, "to see these people of high status be normal and be caring."

Faries also got to know exactly how to pour President Bush's drink.

"I want to say that his main drink was Dewar's and water," Faries said. But that wasn't the tough part.

"He was always surrounded by a group," said Faries. "If his drink was out, he had this very smooth way of putting his drink behind his back and slowly moving the crowd backwards to where he'd come back up to the bar, and I could refill behind his back."

"Then he'd pull it back and go wherever he wanted to go," Faries said. "And no one would be the wiser."

A small Scotch secret between a president and his bartender, and a lesson for the young man getting paid by the hour.

"I've held that with me, to be honest, over the years," Faries said. "It shows you the capacity of someone to be a real person, down to earth and caring and loving--to get a position of status and not change."

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