On a recent trip to the LBJ Presidential Library, I expected to learn a lot about Lyndon Baines Johnson and the time he spent as President of the United States. And I did. But, what I didn’t expect was that everything I learned about Lyndon made me really wish I could have known his wife, Lady Bird.
We Texans Talk Big
We Texans really do talk big about things sometimes. A little braggadocious, even, we are from time to time. This boastful attitude of our goes so deep that, if we don’t hold back, we might easily toward claiming an honor when the honor is not even due.
I’ve Done it Myself
In fact, I have done that myself, just a moment ago.
As I was gathering my thoughts about this blog post on our visit to the LBJ Library in Austin, I searched the Internet to find out how many US presidents were actually from Texas.
Now, listen, y’all. I’m educated enough to know they’re not all from the great state of Texas. I’ve been to D.C., seen the monuments and toured the Capitol Building. I know that there are four living presidents today, that George Washington was the first, and that Grover Cleveland was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms in office.
But, I was a little surprised when my Google findings yielded information of a more unsettling nature.
Only 3 of our 45 Presidents of the United States called Texas home while in office, and of that number – wait for it – only two were born in the Lone Star State.
Lord have mercy. I truly thought there were more.
One of those two was Lyndon Baines Johnson, born in Stonewall, Texas on August 27, 1908.
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
If it’s true at all, it’s true about Lady Bird Johnson. She was surely the phenomenal woman behind a successful man.
Lady Bird Johnson
I wish I could have known Lady Bird Johnson.
Now, I dearly love my new Ivanka Trump perfume –
and I even wore a bright red Make America Great Again cap to work for crazy hat day (which, I’ll have you know, was an extremely b-r-a-v-e thing to do!).
So, yes, it’s probably obvious that I’m a big ol’ fan of Mr. Trump, but I respect the office of the president, no matter who’s sitting in the chair, dadgum it. (I like saying “dadgum it” sometimes.)
What I Learned
Since it’s been raining for days (not complaining!), we thought it would be a good time for us to visit the LBJ Presidential Library, right here in our own Austin back yard, on the campus of the University of Texas.
Even the massive building itself evokes a certain measure of patriotic reverence as you make your way up the monochromatic concrete walkway.
It only takes a couple of hours to tour the library, but you could take much longer if you wanted to. I’m really glad we went. There’s so much to do in Austin that a visit to a library of any kind might fall to the bottom of the vacation to-do list. But it’s worth it. Really worth it. The price of admission won’t wreck your vacation or entertainment budget either. After Mike and I paid $8 each, and Keagon got in for only $3 with his college ID, I had a tiny moment of pride, like I was a thrifty, conscientious mom providing the family with a nice little educational back-to-school outing. Like I once felt when I got the kids and I into the zoo for free with a sack of donated canned goods.
Just as we entered the library, we got to see LBJ’s long, black presidential limousine, which helped to set our frame of historical reference. A nice lady gave us the lowdown on each floor’s can’t-miss highlights, and off we went. We heard the President’s actual recorded phone conversations and read framed copies of important letters. Did you know LBJ was the first president to preserve his phone conversations, and that he encouraged Nixon to do the same? Interesting, huh? You can also read framed copies of important letters, like the handwritten letter from Jackie Kennedy thanking LBJ for walking behind Jack.
I learned a lot of things I didn’t already know. One of them is that, after visiting the place that houses over 45 millions pages of her husband’s history, seeing her evening gowns and chosen china, I think I really would have liked the entrepreneurial mother of two – wife of the president of the greatest country in the entire world: Lady Bird Johnson.
All the pictures of Mrs. Johnson were of a woman with great style and grace, and it seemed like true pride in her husband. I’m always fond of a woman who is proud of her husband. It just looked as though Lady Bird was certain of a few things and like she was at peace with her purpose.
I wonder if your presidential ponderings would be like mine, featuring a mixture of reflection and respect for this woman who financed her husband’s entry into his political destiny, married both of her daughters to men who served in Vietnam, was forever smiling, and who left her mark on our great state in beautiful blue flowers that pop up every spring, where trash was once thoughtlessly thrown.
“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” – Lady Bird Johnson
I bet we both would have liked her.
“I hope that visitors who come here will achieve a closer understanding of the presidency and that young people will get a clearer comprehension of what this nation tried to do in an eventful period of its history.” – Lyndon Baines Johnson
Read more. Books about Lady Bird.
Encouraging intentional adventure and respect for the office,