Awkward Family Photo: “George Bush Birthday”
Place item was collected
Point of Discovery/Informant Bio
The informant’s name is Julie Rivera, my mother. Julie is a wife, mother of 3, FedEx employee, and dog lover. She was raised in Midvale, Utah and has lived here ever since. She currently lives in Riverton, Utah. Her hobbies include crocheting, playing the piano, reading, spending time with her family, and walking her dog, Banjo. She and her husband, Manny, also enjoy getting into “wild” political debates and their frequent political conversations seem to have infiltrated their family life, hence the photo.
I interviewed Julie on November 16th in her home in Riverton, Utah, which is, incidentally, my childhood home. She was excited to speak about the piece of folklore I collected from her photo albums and stated that it’s her “favorite photo of [me].” She says that she frequently shares this photo on Facebook, with family friends, on holidays when the family albums are pulled from the shelves, and especially during election season. While it is, in her words, “disturbing on many levels,” the comedic qualities of the picture are undeniable.
Well, we were having family over for your sixth birthday, well, it was mostly just Scott’s family at the time because Jenny was mad about something. I can’t remember where grandma was, probably in St. George visiting Fred’s family. Anyway, we asked you what kind of party you wanted to have, and I was expecting you to say, Disney or Jurassic Park— those were your two obsessions at the time. Um… Your Dad and I thought it was hilarious that you said you wanted a “George Bush birthday.” [My reply: I don’t even know what must’ve been going through my mind]. Well, it was probably the fact that your dad had Rush Limbaugh blaring from that old blue radio every day. Do you remember that blue radio? [My reply: Yeah, I do. I can’t believe that thing worked]. What were we supposed to say? “No, Josie, you can’t have a George Bush birthday.” I didn’t even know what kind of decorations, cake, anything to do for something like that, so I made red, white, and blue cupcakes and put a picture of G.W.B. in the frame.
The interview took place mainly in the living room, but we soon migrated to the kitchen when her dog, a Chihuahua-Yorkie mix named Banjo, needed to go outside. The brown, leather couches sit adjacent to one another, but Julie sits in an uncomfortable looking, green chair near the window. The house is quiet as her family is at school or work. The interview is completely comfortable, a mother-daughter conversation. The comfortable nature of the interview allowed for Julie to make some backhanded remarks about our family members, particularly Jenny and my grandmother for prioritizing her step kids over her biological grandchildren. I could sense that my mom carries some animosity.
Semester and year
G1: Rites of Passage
Rivera, Josephine, "Awkward Family Photo: “George Bush Birthday”" (2018). USU Student Folklore Fieldwork. Paper 319.