When talking about his friend, O'neill calls him both "The President" and "Bushie," the latter more a nickname from when both were Little Leaguers. O'neill and wife, Jan, played a key role in introducing the president to a young woman named Laura Welch back in the mid-1970s. He recently recounted the story of introducing the now famous couple and thfirst date for the upcoming book "A History of Character: The Story of Midland, Texas," expected to be published in the winter of 2011-2012.
"I was sitting here in the office one day and I got a call from the front desk and the receptionist said, 'There's a George Bush here to see you.' I walked to the front, and sure enough it was the same guy I knew when I was 9 or 10. We were about 30 by then, and Jan and I were married. Laura was coming into town that weekend, and Laura and Jan knew each other from high school, and they had roomed together with Susie (Don Evans' wife) down in Houston in 1968-70. Anyway, Laura was coming to town and her parents lived two blocks from us.
"George W. Bush was the only single guy in our group of friends, so we tried to set him up with Laura, and she said, no, she didn’t want to make it out as a dating thing. We asked her a couple more times, and she and him finally went out together and then it was all over but the shouting. He was smitten. He stayed out with her till 12:30 that night -- and he never stayed up past nine."
O'neill also remembered that Bush was always quite the wise cracker and had a penchant for giving people nicknames, characteristics that the media never seemed to get.
"He was never the guy to lead his class at Andover, but he'd sit there and watch you for several minutes and have you all figured out. He was a people person. Still is," O'neill said.
O'neill said he made several trips to the White House during the Bush years, but said he was never the type to just pick up the phone and call the President of the United States.
"And he never called me," O'neill said. "Unless he wanted something. And that was fine."