Slide Show from LBJ Homes

My April trip took me to Fredericksburg Texas, and also to the Lyndon B. Johnson  childhood home and the “Texas White House”, his ranch on the Pedernales River in beautiful Texas hill country. Blue bonnets were in bloom, and we were reminded of the legacy of Lady Bird Johnson. Although we could take photos inside the childhood home, the National Park Service does not allow photography inside the ranch house. But here are the photos I did get.

I was grateful to Lady Bird Johnson that she had the foresight to pack things away whenever she did updating of the house, so that it could be returned to the look it had when LBJ was there. All that 1960’s aqua-green Naugahyde! LBJ had a wall of three TV sets in his office, a reminder that you could get all the news on just three channels in his time.

I also loved the typical LBJ stories. In the garage, beside the impressive Presidential cars, was a little funny-looking car, like a Nash Rambler, if you’re old enough to remember them. He would load it up with guests, and drive it toward the river and start yelling that the brakes were failing and they were going into the water. Okay. It was an amphibious automobile, quite comfortable floating in the Pedernales.

And how Lady Bird and LBJ lived together all those years is a mystery. She had refined tastes, and liked to decorate in country casual, but with polished furniture and nice pieces of art.  She got a beautiful dining room set with chairs carefully matched to the table. However, one day, LBJ dragged one of his overstuffed leather cowboy chairs in to the head of the table. There it stayed beside the telephone that was attached to the table in case he got a call during dinner. Both totally out of place in the lady-like decor.

He had nearly 70 phones installed around the ranch so he would never miss a call. Wouldn’t he have been in heaven with a Blackberry!

I used to wrinkle my nose at his down-home paeans to Texas hill country and his beloved Pedernales. But by golly, standing there on the lawn of the Western White House and looking past the bluebonnets  and across the road, through the live oak trees  at the narrow strip of muddy water across the road, I could totally understand why he spent more than 1/3 of his Presidency in this lovely spot.

The humble childhood home seemed similar to the white clapboard homes in small town Ohio where I grew up, although this was a generation older and I never actually had to put up with an outhouse. The most striking thing about that small house was learning that his mother taught elocution to the town children on the front porch after regular school. Her love of literature and poetry and public speaking fills in a gap in my knowledge about LBJ.

The homes and the surroundings go farther in explaining the President than any biography could ever do.

Have you visited LBJ’s home or other President’s homes? What do you get out of the experience?

Other slide shows of Texas: San Antonio on My Mind, and the Art and Food of San Antonio.

A favorite Texas Writer, Larry McMurtry

Disclaimer: I went there on a press trip as the guest of the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

9 thoughts on “Slide Show from LBJ Homes

  1. Sadly, I do not think any president has made Idaho their home. We occasionally get a visit, but that is about it…so no Idaho stories.
    Thanks for sharing about LBJ. (Hah! My aunt had a Nash!) -r

    1. Glad to oblige, Donna. Alexandra, have you changed because you moved from France to Cape Cod? Laura, lucky you to have relatives who live in history. I hear there was a bit of a flap when the Park Service took over the Johnson ranch. The daughters thought they would still have rights to have family gatherings there, but the NPS said that wasn’t part of the deal. Maintaining the integrity of an historic site can be touchy. Edie, thanks for the complement on the photos. It was a gray day, and challenging. I certainly wished I could have snapped a few inside. And thanks to the other commenters, too. Hope I’ve influenced somebody to fly on over to Texas and don’t be a stranger to the Johnson ranch. (Which I made the mistake of calling the Western White House–It was the Texas White House.

  2. “The homes and the surroundings go farther in explaining the President than any biography could ever do.”

    I truly believe that we are influenced by our surroundings.

    Thanks for this trip to Texas. I would love to visit LBJ and Ladybird’s former domain.

  3. I’ve never visited in a President’s home, but I’ve stayed in a house that a President visited. My husband’s aunt and uncle live in the Coor-Bishop house in New Bern, NC. Here’s some info:

    Coor-Bishop House: c. 1770-78. Built by James Coor. Subsequent owner, George Pollock, entertained President James Monroe and Secretary of War and Mrs. James C. Calhoun. Remodeled in the Neo-Classical Revival style and turned toward the water c. 1907. (501 East Front St.)

    Here’s a pic:

    http://newbern.cpclib.org/digital/nbhs/simpson/sim0088.htm

    The room in which I slept is the one above the main entrance. The window looks like an almost perfect square, instead of a rectangle.

    They keep the house in pristine condition, but they really do live there. I love the creaky old floors and the large porch. We sit out on it and drink lemonade. Yum.

    Laura Hartness
    The Calico Critic
    .-= Laura Hartness hopes you will read blog ..Book Review and Giveaway: From Twilight to Breaking Dawn: Religious Themes in the Twilight Saga =-.

  4. I love the bluebonnets and the stove! Ah.. farms how I love them. Ok, but the Acqua car is weird and really ugly 😉
    .-= Laura B hopes you will read blog ..Shelter blog =-.

  5. What a great post!

    I do so love seeing the homes of the presidents- as you said- it opens up doors and windows into explaining bits and pieces of the President. If I’m ever in Texas- I definitely want to make this a stop.

  6. I really enjoyed visiting the LBJ ranch and childhood home — your pictures of it are terrific! — and one of the things you realize when visiting the Texas Hill Country is how beloved LBJ is on his home turf, how much he helped this rural area; I seem to recall that, as a senator, he brought electricity to many areas that didn’t have it. I’d only thought of LBJ in terms of the national scene — and not very positively — until I visited the region. A great adjunct to these Hill Country sites: The LBJ Presidential Library on the University of Texas campus in Austin.
    .-= Edie Jarolim hopes you will read blog ..Training Tuesday: What Is Dog Training For, Anyway? =-.

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