70-year-old advertisement features George H.W., Barbara Bush

(From the collection of Museum L-A in Lew)

HOUSTON – Long before President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush became a power couple on the national stage, they graced the small screen and periodicals in an advertisement campaign geared toward shoring up a lagging housewares industry.

The ad campaign was for Bates Mill, a textile company located in Lewiston, Maine. Then, in 1948, Bates executives conjured up a plan to get people shopping by targeting college students.

The company was known for its Victoria bedspread, a quilted comforter that had been a popular seller.

[Leave your well-wishes for Barbara Bush]

The Bates campaign in 1948 was called Bates Back to School. The company turned to a group of 15 college students, including Mr. and Mrs. Bush, who appeared in an advertisement pitching Bates Victoria bedspreads.

The company produced a film to accompany its ad campaign. In it, the Bushes appear with other students, helping Bates design housewares college students could afford and would want to buy.

The film sat in a basement for years at Bates Mill in Lewiston, Maine, but was recovered and now is on display at the Museum L-A in Lewiston, Maine.