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The playground of Presidents

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In 1946 a group of American buddies visited Bermuda to fish.

Some of the men weighted their lines with lead to make it appear they’d caught a whopper the idea was to trick one of their unsuspecting friends.

The man being tricked? American President Harry S Truman.

This story and others are detailed in a photographic exhibition by the United States Consulate now running at Masterworks Museum in the Rick Faries Gallery at the Botanical Gardens Between Friends: 65 Years of Bermudian-American Diplomatic Relations.

“The idea came from some colleagues who had done something similar,” said US Consul General Grace Shelton.“We thought it would be great to arrange a pictorial show representing the close relationship between the United States and Bermuda.”

Astrid Black, the consulate’s public diplomacy and political specialist, did most of the research for the exhibition.

Every American president leaves behind an archive after his term. Their libraries have big collections of pictures from presidential visits.

“They were excited and eager to share their archival photos,” said Ms Black. “They sent a whole bunch for us to choose from. Miss Shelton had final choice.”

Ten presidents will be featured in the exhibition including Harry S Truman, John F Kennedy, George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, although Obama is pictured before he was actually president.

“We know President Taft was here in the 1920s, but we weren’t able to get any appropriate photographs,” said Miss Shelton. “There is a gap and we didn’t have Woodrow Wilson, but he came here.

“In August 1946 Truman came here. He came here for a vacation. He did a lot of fishing. It gives a real sense of what Bermuda was like back then.”

Ms Black said judging by the pictures, President Truman looked as though he really enjoyed his visit to the Island. While he was here he reportedly caught a 6 ½lb rockfish and a red hind.

“The most recent photo in the exhibition was taken in August 2009 when the Clintons visited Bermuda,” said Miss Shelton. “There are also photos from President Bush both of them. We have almost every modern-day president except Lyndon B Johnson.

“There are some of Obama although he wasn’t the president while he was here.

“Kennedy came here when he was a senator and later when he was a president, in 1952 and 1961.”

The exhibition runs through March 14.

“Masterworks sent out the invitation for the opening and apparently there has been a great deal of interest with the online invitation getting over 500 hits,” said Miss Shelton. “We are delighted that Masterworks is hosting this.

“So many American artists came here to Bermuda and 80 percent of the Masterworks collection was done by American artists.

“The collection highlights the positive people-to-people connection between the United States and Bermuda.”

This is the first time the United States Consulate has done something like this in Bermuda, and they received special funding from Washington to do it.

“We thought it would be a great way to celebrate our connection,” said Miss Shelton. “It is nice that Masterworks has their 25 year anniversary exhibition, A Rock and an Ocean, going on.

“People visiting the presidential exhibition can just go upstairs of Masterworks and see American master painters. That is very exciting.”

Former Premier of Bermuda Sir John Swan meets US President Ronald Reagan (right), then-Vice President George HW Bush (centre) and US Army Lt Gen Colin Powell, the then-US National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State. The photo is contained in Between Friends: 65 Years of Bermudian-American Diplomatic Relations now being shown at Masterworks.
Slain US President John F Kennedy is shown during a tree-planting ceremony at Langton Hill, in this photograph from the collection: Exhibit Between Friends: 65 Years of Bermudian-American Diplomatic Relations.
Premier of Bermuda Dr David Saul is shown meeting US President William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton in the Oval Office of the US Executive Mansion, The White House in Washington, DC.
Opening reception, U.S. Consulate Photographic Exhibit.Between Friends: 65 Years of Bermudian-American Diplomatic Relations

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Published March 07, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated March 07, 2012 at 9:11 am)

The playground of Presidents

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