BY PAT ANDREWS
In 2016 Gladys Shiels was invited to tag along to a golf tournament in Maine. She enjoys the sport, but no, is not a player. She was to be a guest.
Shiels, a resident of Trenton Towers with her husband, Art, is the mother of Michael Patrick Shiels, a radio talk show host, former producer at WJR-AM and author of a number of books on golf and biographies of celebrities. He also has been involved in the early campaigns of “41” — former President George Herbert Walker Bush, and has had a continuing friendship. For the past eight years, Michael has been one of the volunteers at the annual George H.W. Bush Celebrity Golf Classic held each spring in Kennebunkport and has had the pleasure to emcee the dinner gala numerous times.
Gladys, 73, admitted that she was nervous. But, knowing that Mrs. Bush was to be celebrating a birthday, she went online to locate an old book she recalled — one that offered the history about the Naval Air Station on Grosse Ile. It would be a gift to recall the time that the president and his wife, then a young married couple, lived in Trenton. The president was training in fighter planes during World War II just before being sent to the Pacific.
It turned out to be the perfect present and icebreaker, although the former first lady is famous for making anyone at ease with her candor. Gladys remarked on the pearl necklace she was wearing and one that has become a “look” through the decades, to which, “Bar” replied, “Oh these? These are fakes dear. Come to think of it, there are a lot of fake things on this 91-year-old-body. When I get to heaven God won’t even recognize me.”
And, according to Gladys, her new friend was delighted with the book, taking time to reminisce about her days in a second story apartment on Parkwood owned by the late Grace Gorgone.
Gladys had a wonderful time enjoying the ambience of Kennebunkport and the friendliness of the celebrity golfers and staff. She returned home two days after her initial meeting with the first lady and found in her mailbox a thank you note. And not just any note. It was a two-page, handwritten message thanking her and recounting their conversation.
One other fashion note: Gladys said the first lady came to tournament each day and wore a pair of tennis shoes. Well, somewhat of a pair.
“One had symbols of the places in Kennebunkport, their summer home, and the other was made up of logos from Houston, now their permanent home.”