George H.W. and George W. Bush Once Lived in Compton

Illustration for article titled George H.W. and George W. Bush Once Lived in Compton

Richard Nixon grew up on a Yorba Linda citrus ranch. Ronald Reagan spent his twilight years in Bel Air. And the two Bushes? Straight outta Compton, if you'll believe it.


Actually, the Bush family only called the Los Angeles County suburb home for six short months in 1949 and 1950. George H. W. Bush, the future 41st president of the United States, was on a temporary assignment to California for Dresser Industries, selling oil drilling bits for a Dresser subsidiary named Security Engineering Company. His son and the future 43rd president—pictured above playing cowboy outside the Bushes' Compton home—was only three years old at the time. They lived in a now-demolished apartment complex at 624 S. Santa Fe Avenue.

Of course, the Bushes' Compton was not the city we know today. In the words of historian Josh Sides, Compton in the late 1940s and early 1950s was "exclusively white with an extraordinary web of racially restrictive covenants with a very aggressive policing strategy about keeping black people out." (Today, incidentally, Latinos comprise a majority of Compton's population.)

The Bushes bounced around Southern California—with temporary homes in Ventura, Huntington Park, Bakersfield, and Whittier, in addition to Compton—before moving to Midland, Texas, in May 1950.

Image: George W. Bush plays cowboy in Compton, California, in the fall of 1949. Courtesy of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.


Geoff Manaugh

The book Vice by John R. Baker is actually an incredibly interesting history of the Compton Police Department, documenting at least two significant demographic shifts in the city, and depicting the rise of some of the region's most famous gangs. I think it's safe to say you have to like—or have the patience for—cop memoirs, but it's a good read for a lazy day.