HOUSTON (AP) — People who turned out along the route to pay tribute to former President George H.W. Bush as a special funeral train carries his body to the city where he’ll be buried are leaving coins on the tracks to be flattened into keepsakes.
Fifty-five-year-old Doug Allen of Cypress left eight coins on the tracks before the train passed through the small town of Pinehurst about halfway along the way to College Station. The train left his three quarters, three dimes and two pennies flattened and slightly discolored.
He says he only thought of the idea a few moments before the train passed and his wife and her friend found the coins in their bags.
“It’s something we’ll always keep,” Allen said.
Officials have been warning the excited crowds to stay off the tracks as the train approaches. At one point, a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter flew overhead and told people to get off the tracks.
Bush will be buried later Thursday during a private service on the grounds of his presidential library in College Station.
Earlier, a 54-year-old Texan who served in the U.S. Air Force during “Operation Desert Storm” is among the many people who turned out to watch the special funeral train carry former President George H.W. Bush to his final resting place.
Kevin Gulley, who lives in Cypress, traveled to nearby Pinehurst on Thursday to see the train carrying the casket of his former commander-in-chief. It is taking Bush’s body for burial in the family plot at his presidential library in College Station.
Gulley wore a blue jacket with “U.S. Air Force” embroidered in gold lettering on the back and had a button reading “Looking Great for ’88” on his lapel. He said he wanted to pay his respects to Bush.
Gulley stood waiting next to his son’s former football coach, 56-year-old Bill Powers. The two ran into each other here waiting for the train.
Powers says, “It’s what he wanted because he wanted everybody to be together.”