In between our days in downtown San Antonio (at the Missions, the Alamo, and Riverwalk) — we went north to the stomping grounds of LBJ ! Lyndon Baines Johnson for those unfamiliar.
Sadly, I knew very little about our 36th president other than a) his name b) Vietnam was during his time and c) he became president when JFK was assassinated. JFK to LBJ was one of the tricks I had for remembering the order of presidents when I took AP history. Yes I had to throw out there that I was an AP history student. Just as a reminder that I was intelligent at some point 🙂 . I know it doesn’t seem like it since on every post I type, “I knew nothing about xyz before this visit” – but I blame it on those first years of motherhood sucking out my memory of things not essential to survival.
Moving on 🙂
We started at Johnson City where LBJ’s ancestors were from and where he spent his childhood from age 5 and on! We toured all through his childhood home and yard.
We saw the barn he fell off of and broke his leg, his old room he shared with his brother, his sisters’ room (my girls’ fave!)
and the parlor where his mother who was a very intelligent teacher and debate coach had the kiddos stand up and debate or do some sort of “public” speaking daily. She was one of very few college educated women in the area. LBJ’s administration eventually passed 60+ education bills – I’m really not sure of their effectiveness (will look into that!) but I believe the focus on education is a beautiful tribute to his mother. I love learning about the moms and wives of impactful men!
(Speaking of wives – Lady Bird Johnson is intriguing! She had a real heart for people and nature and I love her work to protect wildflowers and national parks. Also an interesting story: all the booklets and signs say Lady Bird got her name from a nurse who said to her as a baby “you’re pretty as a lady bird”. They call lady bugs lady birds down here. But in her later years she admitted that was a made up story. She had only 2 friends for most of her childhood and they were the African American children of her family’s servants. It was these 2 that gave her the nickname. But because of the culture at the time they wouldn’t tell people that story. I’m grateful she eventually told the truth. I believe she had a huge impact on her husband’s focus on civil rights and wilderness preservation.)
Back to his childhood home.
The screen porches on their home were my faves!
B said this house reminded him so much of his great grandmother’s.
So many of the little “period pieces” they had in there reminded me of my Grandma Evelyn and her mom.
We could really picture all the life lived in here!
Right down the path was the homestead where LBJ’s grandparents – Samuel & Eliza Johnson had settled.
They were cattle drivers, true pioneers and hard workers. Sitting on the front porch looking out on the fields and hills (I had no idea Texas was so hilly on the east!) – I could really picture a glimpse of their lives. I thanked God I was born where and when I was!
I bet that beautiful tree has seen so much!
I can picture LBJ climbing all over it like my girls wanted to!
There’a a story at this stop about Johnson’s grandmother Eliza hiding under this porch with her baby (with a diaper shoved in the baby’s mouth to muffle the screams) when an Indian raid came through. When LBJ’s grandfather returned – he sat on the porch wailing to the Lord – thinking Eliza and child were gone. Not knowing they were beneath him, he promised “oh if only you were here I’d take you back to civilization and away from this harsh life”. When she came out from her hidden spot he was simultaneously elated to see her and horrified she heard his promise. He did follow through and took her back into the town for many years but they eventually came back out to the fields.
Johnson’s love of hard work, nature and wide open spaces surely was passed from his grandparents. He never really got over the yearning to be unconfined or at least never got over wanting to live here “at home” — so as a married man he purchased his aunt and uncles house and land about 15 miles away in Stonewall, which we visited next!
“The Ranch”, as its known, is still a working cattle ranch. It was truly beautiful. Our Betty seemed so happy to be out there in the fields! I love the girl cow playing peekaboo behind the tree:
One of my silly wishes was to see cattle crossing the road in front of us on this trip. Right after I told B and the kiddos about this wish (envisioning cowboys on their horses stopping our Betty so they could let their herd of cattle run across) — this cute ole girl crossed right in front of us 🙂 . I really think the Lord has a sense of humor. I said, “ok Lord I guess thats good enough” hehe.
LBJ spent about 25% of his presidency working from The Ranch. They had an airstrip where Air Force One Half could land.
Air Force One was too heavy so they had this smaller one.
They also had secret service and air traffic control offices right on property. ATC & military offices on the left and secret service on the right:
He was apparently a real handful for the secret service as he liked to often just grab a horse and go! They would have to try to track and follow him around the thousands of acres of the Ranch. At all hours of the night and day.
Another example of what a character he was was this Amphicar (amphibious car) which he loved to take people for a ride in, not tell them what it was, head toward the river and pretend the brakes locked up as they headed right toward it. He then often teased his guests depending on how dramatic their responses were:
The house on property became known as the Texas White House. There was so much history made in this house and so many visitors! Amazing to think about. We were not allowed to tour inside because it was closed last year due to structural problems.
Ever since the flood I can smell mold a mile away even with my recent sinus issues (I smelled it pretty much the entire time we were in NOLA) and I am pretty positive there’s major mold problems in the Texas White House .
It’s such a beautiful home and yard.
This remained Lady Bird Johnson’s primary residence until she died in 2007.
This was where LBJ had his heart attack and died in 1973.
It’s also where JFK was set to visit the day of his assassination. The Johnson’s installed this insignia above the door for his visit. Most of the time visitors just walked through the laundry room in a back entrance but they wanted to of course impress and honor the Kennedys so they prepared the front door for them to enter through though they never got the chance:
(By the way we LOVE all the stone work in this area!)
We learned all about LBJ the man and president. The kiddos earned another Junior Ranger Badge:
I think my takeaway about LbJ was that as a man he was a real piece of work. Ha. He seemed very domineering. Even listening in on the taped conversations they let you hear showed that.
But he was also extremely hard working (slept only from 2am to 6am each night). He learned a lot from his father who was a state legislator. At the age of 10 he was already out on the campaign trail with his Dad and learning about legislation and negotiation and debate. He never did seem to forget where he came from and couldn’t wait to get back anytime he was gone. He worked hard to provide electricity to all the rural counties around Johnson City. It’s pretty incredible that the places he was born and died are 15 miles from each other. His grave is in the family plot at the Ranch. He started and ended his earthly life at home – and saw much of the world in between.
Reading all about his “Great Society” ideas and plans, I thought it was a shame Vietnam did happen and he never could do near as much for the country as he wanted to. I do have a new respect for LBJ after our day exploring his life.
I loved also seeing all the guests that came to the Ranch and wrote their names in the cement. This was our fave of course:
The Pedernales River runs through LBJ’s Ranch. We decided to end our 4 day weekend with Daddy B at Pedernales Falls.
I loved these ones of big brother helping the girls:
B was so happy exploring:
E & AB found all their cozy spots as usual:
RR is happiest outside of course:
And I was totally memorized by the water. If you just sit still and watch it it’s just so captivating! And refreshing. Each little area has its own dance and rhythm. It was beautiful.
And I found another bird blind and loved capturing these beauties!
What a gorgeous day !!!
As you can tell we are all learning a LOT!
Thanks for following. Hope y’all are having a great week.