When Sharon Rafferty Patterson’s Uncle George wanted a Pine Club steak, Sharon Rafferty Patterson’s Uncle George got a Pine Club steak.
Rafferty Patterson’s Uncle George was then Vice President George H.W. Bush and in the running for the nation’s top post.
Bush, the 41st president of the United States, died Friday at the age of 94.
His wife Barbara Bush, the younger sister of Rafferty Patterson’s mother Martha
Pierce Rafferty, died April 17 at age 92.
GEORGE WANTED A STEAK
George and Barbara Bush headed to Dayton just days after he accepted the Republican presidential nomination.
Rafferty Patterson received a phone call shortly after a rally Aug. 20, 1988 in West Carrollton.
“Barbara called me up and said, ‘Do you want to go to the Pine Club?’” recalled Rafferty Patterson, a former resident of Oakwood and Dayton’s Oregon District neighborhood.
Rafferty Patterson said she tried to persuade her aunt to go somewhere a little more private, but no dice.
“She said ‘George wants a steak’,” she recalled Barbara saying.
She assumes her Uncle George had heard about The Pine Club, 1926 Brown St., and its acclaimed steaks.
“You want a steak in Dayton, Ohio, you go to The Pine Club,” Rafferty Patterson said.
She and her husband Tim Patterson, a great nephew of famed Dayton luminary John Patterson, met George and Barbara Bush for dinner at the restaurant located at 1926 Brown St. after the Secret Service secured a table.
The Pine Club famously does not take reservations.
Dave (Hulme) does not make exceptions, but when we got there, there was a table because the Secret Service got a table,” she recalled. “He was brought in and seated.”
The presidential couple did not go unnoticed.
“There were people standing around us. Some of them I know,” she said. “Some of them went home and changed their clothes and were kind of loitering.”
Rafferty said there were two points during dinner that caused her concern.
The first came when her uncle asked for dessert, which the Pine Club does not offer (not even the ice cream her uncle asked for).
The second came when her husband missed the chance to grab the check.
Rafferty Patterson said she feared her uncle would try to pay with a credit card, which the Pine Club famously does not accept.
She was relieved when her uncle instead pulled out cash, reporting paying $93 plus a “generous 15 percent tip.”
THE CONNECTION TO DAYTON
A Connecticut native, Rafferty Patterson met the boy who would be her husband during summer breaks in the New York resort town where they now reside.
Her family has its own Dayton ties.
Rafferty Patterson’s grandparents (Barbara and Martha’s parents) , Marvin Pierce and Pauline Robinson, met at Miami University in Oxford.
Barbara made trips to Dayton when her father worked for McCall Corporation and the family lived in New York years later.
Marvin Pierce went on to be the president of McCall’s, the publisher of Redbook and McCall’s.
Rafferty Patterson said her Great Aunt Charlotte Pierce — her grandfather’s sister — was a teacher in Oakwood.
Although they left Dayton in 2004, Rafferty Patterson and her husband visit Dayton often to see their grandchildren and children, Meaghan Carter of Huber Heights and Rockwell Patterson, a resident of Dayton’s South Park neighborhood.
The couple is in Dayton this week volunteering for the Oregon Historic District Society’s Candlelight Holiday Tour.
Rafferty Patterson and her husband will greet tour takers in the John H. Balsley home on East Sixth Street, one of their former Dayton- area residences.
UNCLE GEORGE AND AUNT BARBARA
Rafferty Patterson said their life in politics made it hard to be close to her aunt and uncle, but she was always fond of them even though she did not always agree with her uncle’s politics.
“George Bush, outside of being pretty attractive, was very smart and very funny,” she said. “Barbara was lovely. She had little bit of an edge to her as did my mother... It would come in her head and come out of her mouth. She would tell it like it was, but was very lovely.”
At age 21, Rafferty Patterson lived in Houston with George and Barbara Bush when he ran for Senate in 1964.
She worked in her uncle’s campaign office with her then 18-year-old cousin George W. Bush, mostly stuffing envelopes.
“Barbara gave us the car and a dollar each day for lunch,” she said.
“All I could really remember is when it was time to go home, he (George W. Bush) was nowhere around.”
Rafferty Patterson said she last saw George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, at her Aunt Barbara’s funeral.
Although she had been close with her aunt for a while, she hadn’t seen her uncle for about 20 years until the funeral and understands why.
“Politics drew a great big line with us spending time with them,” she said. “They were not hanging out with the likes of us. It’s too bad. It certainly took them out of our family. We didn’t see them and we did not know the cousins.”
During George H.W. Bush’s time in the White House, Barbara Bush attended Rafferty Patterson’s father’s funeral in Connecticut.
The president did not attend.
“She was a commotion,” Rafferty Patterson said. “He tripled it.”
Still, there are fond memories.
Rafferty Patterson remembers riding in a golf course with her aunt while her uncle was here for a charity golf event and the time her daughter Meaghan, then a student at Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School, talked herself through Secret Service to see Barbara during one of the couple’s visits to Dayton.
Being the niece of a president and a first lady was an unique experience, Rafferty said.
“It’s a little strange. First they are your relatives, and then they are all over the place,” she said. “It means you don’t see them that much, and when you do it is in a big crowd and where everyone wants to see them.”