George H.W. Bush Downriver Residency
By Bethany Newton
Grosse Ile used to be home to a Naval Air Station Base that former President George H.W. Bush was once stationed at. The base opened in 1927 and operated until 1969. During the second World War, the base was one of the largest flight training stations. President Bush was stationed at the base late in his naval career around 1945.
He and his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush, actually lived in Trenton for about two months while he was stationed at the base. Trenton was the first place the couple lived after they got married in January of 1945.
The Grosse Ile Naval Air Station Base is now the Grosse Ile Municipal Airport,
but the memory of the base is still present on its grounds. The Grosse Ile Historical Society has kept great records of its history, and they even have a letter that President Bush sent back after he was sent a book about the air station. First Lady Barbara Bush even mentioned her time in Downriver in her memoir, “Barbara Bush: A Memoir,” published in 1994. Here’s the excerpt mentioning the area:
“For the next eight months we moved around the country while George’s new squadron formed and trained. Sometimes I could go with him and sometimes I couldn’t. We went to Grosse Ile Air Base in Michigan and lived in rooms in Wyandotte and Dearborn. The first room we rented was dark, and the landlady took great pleasure in my mistakes. I made many. I heard her say one day to a friend on the phone, “You should have seen what she did today. She washed all her silk underwear and it shrank.” I did, and it did, but how mean of her not to tell me how to wash it. We moved over to Dearborn and stayed with the dearest family, Joe and Grace Gorgone and their children. We have stayed in touch all these years, until Grace died in March 1993. She taught me some of the things my mother thought I should be able to pick up by reading — things like how to cook, clean and wash clothes.”
To learn more about the base, go to the Grosse Ile Historical Society’s website here: https://www.gihistsoc.org/