Laura Bush to Visit Blytheville

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) --This Saturday, former first lady Laura Bush will be in Blytheville...

Promoting her new book and helping raise money for a local reading program.

Even though Mrs. Bush has never been in Blytheville before she has already left a lasting historical impression.

Liz Smith, the Executive Director for the Blytheville Chamber of Commerce will be interviewing Mrs. Bush Saturday night at the Ritz Civic Center.

"Mrs. Bush and I will be sitting on the stage in two lovely chairs or a love seat or chair or something and I will simply ask her questions."

Mrs. Bush is in the middle of a 9-city tour promoting her new book. "Spoken from the Heart."

Mary Gay Shipley who owns "That Bookstore in Blytheville" and Mrs. Bush are friends. They met at her brother's wedding. Since then they have met often at book events around the nation. Shipley told me of their first encounter.

"And Laura was in Bill and Pamela's wedding, that's the first time I ever met her, we were both bridesmaids. "

For Mrs. Bush's first visit, the options were to try and have an event at the book store or move the event down the block.

Shipley, "We like to take people down to the Ritz then because the audience which is about 470 people get to sit for an hour and see her."

The money raised will help support a local literacy program.

Liz Smith, "We call it "Books from Jan" and each of these events. "Stardust on Blytheville", we call it. Each of these events supports some part of our literacy effort. "

The program is the local chapter of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

And even though the former First Lady has never set one foot in Blytheville, her influence is already being felt.

As First Lady, Mrs. Bush set up a program called "Preserve America" grants for American cities to save historical structures.

Blytheville, with its Art-Deco Greyhound station, is one of 600 grant cities.

Smith, "On May 15th which is the day she will be here. We will have consultants in working on our Greyhound bus station. They are designing exhibits for it. That is being paid for through a grant from "Preserve America.""

I asked Smith what kinds of questions do you ask former First Ladies?

"We will not be discussing political policy."

Okay, but she did live in the White house for 8 years.

"It will be about her life and it's an extraordinary life so I think it will be about the impact of all of this on her."

The event is Saturday night at 7 at the Ritz Civic Center in Blytheville.

There are still a few tickets available.

You can call the Blytheville Chamber offices at 870-762-2012 for ticket availability.

©2010 KAIT All rights reserved.