Part 2…..The Beautiful LBJ Ranch

The front lawn of the Beautiful LBJ Ranch…..Home of our 36th President of the United States…..

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In Part 1, we had finished walking around the front of the house and pool and toured part of the first floor of the Ranch.  Now we are back outside walking around the back.

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Around the back corner was an area of concrete 12” pavers.  As the Presidents guests came to visit, he would have them cast a square and sign it.  The are all arranged in an area around a patio.  This particular one was signed by John Glenn in 1962, our astronaut.

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At the back of the house was a large driveway area and parking.  You can see how the house has been added on to through the years.  Now as we looked to the right, here is the Secret Service Command Post.  The Secret Service maintained a presence with the Johnson Family for 46 years, beginning  when he became vice president in 1961.  When he became President in 1963, the Secret Service maintained a 24 hour protection for the family.

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After the Presidents death in 1973, a Security detail still remained with Lady Bird until her death on July 11, 2007…..Making her the longest protected First Lady in the Twentieth Century.  This building is closed right now.  Funds are being raised to replace a new foundation and then restore the building so it can be opened to the public.

After reading this, It gave me some food for thought.  The cost of the Secret Service protection is huge considering the years they serve the President and family.  I do realize it is necessary and deserved even after leaving office for the President and First Lady.  Our presidents are getting younger.  President Obama has many years left.  But now look at President Trump and his wife Melania.  He is 70, but she is only 47.  Just think of the cost it will entail in the future years.  Even if Trump dies before her, she is young.  She is used to a jet set life style.  She is use to traveling and living to the fullest.  She will not be living out on a ranch or small town area.  Melania will always have the best.  The only way she will loose Secret Service coverage is if she would remarry in the future.   I am not trying to bring politics into this, but it is just some food for thought…….Lots of Money….

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Behind the Secret Service Command Post is a series of dark green buildings.  This was the Command Center.  With in 4 weeks of President Johnson taking the oath for the Presidency in November 1963, after President Kennedys assassination, the LBJ Ranch had enough equipment for a small city:  microwave towers providing 120 channels to Austin, two-way radios, teleprinters, cryptographic machines, and an extensive telephone system with 100 lines.  These buildings housed the switchboard and a 50 kilowatt emergency generator.

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The President was said to be on the phone 18 hrs. a day.  You can see the TV antenna in the back yard rise above the house and the little picture in the upper right is the switchboard in 1965.  Lady Bird remembered it as “the bane of my life….aesthetically”…..This picture is from 1965 and I noticed the 2 new bedrooms and the pool have not been added yet.  Next we came to a glass enclosure containing 2 cars.  We had passed these on our way into the house to begin our tour.

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These were the cars of Lady Bird Johnson,  2 Lincoln Continentals.  It was rather hard to take a good photo because of the glare on the glass.  We went to another building called The Klein Shop.  It used to be the maintenance building for the ranch.  Now it is the museum for LBJ’s car collection.

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This is Lyndon and Lady Bird crossing the Pedernales River on the dam in 1959.  This is a 1934 Phaeton, featuring a V8 Lincoln Zephyr engine.  He added a Rifle rack, Wet Bar with Water Faucet, and steel plating underneath to prevent damage.  He took his guests hunting on the ranch to escape the stress of politics.

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These are 1967 and 1968 Lincoln Continental Convertibles.   They featured Suicide doors, Power Windows, Power Door Locks, AM-FM Radio, 8-track Tape Player, and VHF Radio.  He always purchased them from an Austin Dealer, Roy ButlerMr. Butler always made sure Mr. Johnson always had the first new Convertible in Central Texas each year, always white with a tan leather interior.  He loved to ride guests around telling his story’s.

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This is a 1962 Amphicar.  Manufactured in West Germany.  This was the only mass produced civilian amphibious automobile.  3,878 were built between 1961 and 1968.  Color choices were,  Beach White, Fjord Green, Regatta Red, or Lagoon Blue.  He would love to take guests around and pretend his breaks went out when approaching the river or a lake.  Then he would just glide right in and shock them….lol…In this picture, Lady Bird is on the front of the boat with a cup in her hand, and LBJ is driving his car.

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This was a 1915 Fire Truck Type 12 American La France restored.  It is a beautiful peace.  It was gifted to him on Nov. 1964 by the people of Brady Texas.  It was also used for many years as a tour vehicle on the ranch.

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President Johnson used Cushman golfcarts to bring his guest from the airstrip to the house.  In this picture Senator McGovern had just flew in to seek advice and support on the 1972 Presidential campaign.  On the back is Sargeant Shriver and Lady Bird listening, and of course their dog Yuki.  The tour at the house was now done.  We walked back past the Airplane Hanger/Visitor Center and headed for our little pickup.

 

It was really bittersweet to leave.  I could have hung around their all day just relaxing and exploring by the river.  Sitting up by the house under the oak trees.  Just imagining the hustle and bustle , or all the barbeques and guests that had walked these grounds.  We would now be heading east on the taxi strip past the entrance to the runway, to the road that we came in on.  On the way we spotted a cute Jack Rabbit.

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I had to really zoom this picture as we were much farther away.  He got scared and ran for the fence.

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Then he ran across the road into the tall grass, not to be seen again.  This picture looks almost fake, but it is real, but zoomed in.  He was moving really fast.  Finally we were on the ranch road that ran along the banks of the Pedernales River.  We again we driving through the overhang of the beautiful Oak trees.  We passed the home on the left that was Lyndon Johnsons Grandfather, Sam Ealy Johnson Sr.  Little farther down the road on the right side along the banks of the River was the Johnson Family Cemetery.

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Most of the people buried in the cemetery are related to Lyndon Johnson. His great grandmother, Priscilla Bunton, was the first person buried here. She passed away on April 28, 1905, during a violent storm, and her family was unable to cross the flooding river to lay her next to her husband in the Stonewall Community Cemetery. The family chose a grove of live oak trees on property belonging to Lyndon Johnson’s grandfather for Mrs. Bunton’s burial site. Her gravestone is the white Georgia marble marker with the lamb on top. In 1937, LBJ’s father, Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr., was buried in the cemetery. Sam Johnson had been a state legislator who was much admired for his work.  In 1946, Frank Seaward, a rock mason from Stonewall, built the wall enclosing the cemetery. The wall was constructed to give identity to the cemetery, as well as to minimize the harmful effects of Pedernales River flooding. Repairs were made on the wall after major floods in 1952 and 1959.

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The most prominent gravestone in the cemetery is the gray one with the Martin name on it. Frank and Clarence Martin were President Johnson’s aunt and uncle. The President bought the ranch from Frank Martin in 1951. President Johnson’s gravestone is the tallest marker in the main row. To the right are his mother, Rebekah; his father, Sam Ealy, Jr.; and his paternal grandparents, Sam Ealy Sr. and Eliza. To the left of the President is where Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson is laid to rest. The remaining headstones belong to the President’s brother, Sam, and his three sisters, Rebekah, Josepha and Lucia. Rebekah’s husband, Oscar Bobbitt, is also buried in the main row as well as Lucia’s husband, Birge Alexander.

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The President’s Funeral
President Johnson’s body lay in state at the LBJ Library in Austin, and then in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. President Johnson’s funeral at the LBJ Ranch took place on the cold and rainy day of January 25, 1973. He once told Mrs. Johnson, “When I die I don’t just want our friends who can come in their private planes. I want the men in their pickup trucks and the women whose slips hang down below their dresses to be welcome, too….” Hundreds of people attended the funeral, which was conducted by Reverend Billy Graham.

While living at the Texas White House, President Johnson loved to visit the cemetery. He said, “I come down here almost every evening when I’m at home. It’s always quiet and peaceful here under the shade of these beautiful oak trees

This is such a beautiful cemetery.  It is peaceful, and so serene.  I can see why he loved it here.  I’m sure he spent many hours thinking about family, his childhood, and about this being his finally resting place also.  I’m sure he contemplated many of his decisions of the country as he sat under these oak trees.  How ironic that just across the road and down a short ways was the home that LBJ was born in.

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The original home was torn down in the 1930’s.  President and Mrs. Johnson had it reconstructed in 1964 as a guest house.  It was never intended to be an actually copy of the original, but it is close.  The original home was built in 1889 by Johnson grandfather, Sam Ealy Johnson Sr.  Lyndon’s parents moved here after their marriage in 1907.  Lyndon lived her for 5 years before moving into Johnson City.  We drove further down the road to the last building by the main gate.  This is the a Junction School House the Lyndon attended at the age of 4.

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This school was built in 1910 to serve the rural inhabitants of Gillespie County.  It did just that for 37 years, teaching the 3 R’s.   Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

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Lyndon attended this school in 1912.  Their were about 40 students, girls on 1 side and boys on the other.  This was the beginning of his education that would guide him in his passion as a teacher, and eventually become President of the United States.  He eventually signed over 60 educational bills into law, more than any other president.  He even came back to this school house for the ceremony to sign one very important bill.   Sitting at a picnic table on the lawn of the Junction School with Miss Katie Deadrich (his first teacher) at his side, President Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on April 11, 1965.26-esea-1965-bill-signing-lyndon-johnson-kate-deadrich-loney-bw-600

We were finally done with the tour and headed back to Johnson City.  We had just enough time to stop for dinner at a fabulous Barbeque restaurant.  Excellent.  Back to the Motor Home, pulled in the slides and away we went……1 PM….right on schedule…..We had thought about goint to Austin….but….It was time to head for Harlingen….Enough Play…..Time to get back to a Normal Life style….lol….One thing I didn’t touch on was Lady Bird….

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Now remember back at his Boy Hood Home in Johnson City we were told, the Johnsons married smart women, educated and with money.  His mother was very educated and was a teacher.  So this is a little about our First Lady.

Lady Bird was born:   Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson (née Taylor; December 22, 1912 – July 11, 2007)  She was named after her mothers brother Claud.  Her nursemaid Alice Tittle said she was as “purty as a Lady Bird.”  The nickname stuck for the rest of her life.  Her father and siblings called her Lady, and Lyndon called her Bird.  She even used Lady Bird on her marriage certificate.  She was a well-educated for a woman of her era, she proved a capable manager and a shrewd investor. After marrying Lyndon B. Johnson in 1934 when he was a political hopeful in Austin, Texas, she used a modest inheritance to bankroll his congressional campaign, and then ran his office while he served in the Navy. She bought a radio station, followed by a TV station, which generated revenues making them millionaires. As First Lady, she broke new ground by interacting directly with Congress, employing her own press secretary, and making a solo electioneering tour.

After being introduced to Lyndon by a friend, 0n their first date, Lyndon proposed. Lady Bird did not want to rush into marriage, but he was persistent and did not want to wait. Ten weeks later, Lady Bird accepted his proposal.  The couple married on November 17, 1934, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio, Texas.

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Unfortunately Lady Bird had 3 miscarriages, but finally  they had two daughters together: Lynda Bird (born in 1944) and Luci Baines (born in 1947).   Lyndon and Lady Bird and their two daughters all shared the initials LBJ. The daughters lived in the White House during their teenage years, under close scrutiny of the media.
Both daughters married. Lynda Bird married Charles S. Robb, who was later elected as Governor of Virginia and U.S. Senator. Luci Baines married Pat Nugent and, later, Ian Turpin. Lady Bird had seven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren at the time of her death.12ladybird-2-600

Lady Bird Johnson was a lifelong advocate for beautifying the nation’s cities and highways (“Where flowers bloom, so does hope”). The Highway Beautification Act was informally known as Lady Bird’s Bill. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest U.S. civilian honors.  Her love for flowers is apparent at the ranch.  Their were acres of wildflowers growing in their natural state.  In closing of this blog, I came across a picture that I will never forget, nor will the people who lived through the era of the 60s’.  I still remember that weekend of the assassination.   President Kennedy was assassinated on Friday.  That afternoon the Presidents body was loaded on Air Force One and this picture was taken before they left Dallas.  It was on tv and all the new media.  ………A Moment in History…..Vice-President-Lyndon-B-Johnson-is-sworn-into-the-office-of-the-Presidency-aboard-Air-Force-One-hours-after-the-assassination-of-Presi

When President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, President Johnson was sworn into office aboard Air Force One in Dallas before they took off.  Mrs. Johnson was by his side as well as Mrs. Jackie Kennedy, the Presidents now widow.  Mrs. Kennedy still had her pink suit on, blood spattered from her husbands blood.  She never changed it till morning.  They wanted her to change clothes, but she said “No, let them see what they have done”.  President Johnson finished out this term and was elected to one more term of 4 years.  He then declined to run again, knowing his health was not good.

He was a Great Man, Lady Bird was a Great First Lady….They made a Wonderful Couple.  The built a Wonderful Life and a Legacy to Last an Eternity….

 

 

 

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