LBJ Country

When people speak about Texas Big Country, it’s not an understatement. The filling station (below) and attached store blew our minds. It was just so Big! We couldn’t imagine how these stalls would be filled up, but they were.

Texas Big: Gas Pumps

About Lindon Baines Johnson (LBJ)

Since the 60s, I wanted to see and understand the man who brought us so much social change but also had the Vietnam War as a legacy. The war seems to have overwhelmed all the great things LBJ did, all the changes he enacted, all the good services offered for the poor. There is no doubt he felt at a loss to solve the Vietnam problem. There are so many of us that cannot forget how deadly the war was, how inhumane, and the pall of ‘baby killers’ on people’s lips. It wasn’t the military’s fault to be sent in, but so many of my baby-boomer hippy friends pointed the rhetoric at anyone within spitting distance. It was indeed a sad time.

The bills Johnson helped pass were cornerstones for the lower and middle classes, to give them a hand up out of poverty. Johnson put through and Congress passed 1000 new bills. This is how NPR, PBS, Head Start, Equal Housing amendments, Medicare, Medicaid, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 1964 Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, the Product Safety Commission, and so many more significant bills were created, which became an important part of our society.

We visited San Antonio, Austin and Fredericksburg, stopping on the way at Johnson City, the birthplace and home of LBJ, the cemetery where he and Ladybird are buried, and the LBJ Ranch. So much history and from such humble beginnings.

LBJ started his career as a school teacher, in a one-room school, to Hispanic children. When he saw the poverty and lack of meals, supplies, clothing, it made an impression on him that never faded. When he became a Senator, he used his power to change Texas for the better. When he became the President, he used his gift of negotiation to the fullest. He came to power after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and served as President until 1969.

San Antonio

I wanted to visit the Alamo where The ‘King of the Wild Frontier’, Davy Crockett, lost his life. The Alamo, San AntonioSo much has been written about the Alamo, history of this mission turned fort and the defeat of the small group of Texan defenders by overwhelming Mexican forces lead by ‘Santa Ana’. It was very interesting to learn some of the detailed history behind the border wars, how Texas started out as a Republic and eventually became one of our States. Some of the original buildings stand, but most walls have been reconstructed from original plans. The courtyards, horse stalls, military dorms, and supply rooms were cool in the hot sun, the walls being 2 feet thick. After visiting the Alamo, we took a boat tour to see San Antonio’s famous ‘Riverwalk’ district, an extensive waterway development with many shops, restaurants and other attractions.

Austin

First priority in Austin was to visit the LBJ Library on the University of Texas Campus. There we found tapes, archives, photographs, and history written in a very easy to understand way. Lots of children visited the library on the day we toured and giggled their way through Johnson’s colorful language.

Ten-year old’s enjoying listening to President Johnson

I think the story I most liked about LBJ is how he got his agenda passed through Congress. He found out what a Senator wanted for the district, and then he’d use that carrot to get what he wanted to accomplish.

Air Force .5

In the evening, we walked the music district, visited some bars with
live music. The next day, we drove to Fredericksburg, stopping  at the JBJ Ranch and homestead. This is a combined State and Federal area. The tour took us first to a small 1900’s working farm where costumed interpreters carry out day-to-day activities; the dairy, meat and vegetables are raised there. We visited the little one-room building where Johnson started his education at the age of 4. Next, was LBJ’s working Ranch with its herds of Hereford cattle and sheep in addition to a herd of Bison and one of Texas Longhorns. While in office, Johnson spent a large percentage of his time at the Ranch. He equipped the ranch with all the communications and security facilities required and held many meetings there, some with foreign Heads of State. He felt at an advantage, when offering the hospitality of the ranch, which he felt helped his negotiating position. He loved to conduct meetings under the big oak tree outside his home, but also spent time with international leaders discussing policy around his pool. The ranch had to be reorganized and remodeled to handle the FBI detail, the staff, along with the Air Force plane (dubbed “Air Force 0.5”) that ferried him from Washington, DC and back to the small airstrip next to the ranch. The Johnson cemetery is in this area along with the gravestones for Ladybird and LBJ, and his relatives.

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  • LBJ Country

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    LBJ Country, Texas

  • One Comment on “LBJ Country

    1. That was so interesting! We’ve never been exposed to a LBJ focus as you explained. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think about Obama. And I sadly sighed. Thank you for sharing this inside look! Great pics! We really enjoyed San Antonio and that museum, in particular.
      From Cheryl: Glad you found the discourse about LBJ a good one. It was interesting to learn how much he helped change our nation for the better. In spite of the Vietnam War.

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