Lady Bird's recent passing caused my family to recall sweet memories of almost a year ago. Last year, during 4th of July week, we took a family field trip to one of my favorite places...the Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park in Stonewall, Texas. It's a full and wonderful day of touring all the wonderful places of his growing up years in the beautiful Texas hillcountry.
We usually start the day in Johnson City, to tour LBJs Boyhood Home. It's a lovely white home with green shutters in a tiny town. Here, we learn the good stuff in LBJs life, including his mother's insistance on putting her stamp of education in her children's lives. She used to teach them listening, oratory and debate skills, even including any neighborhood children who happen to be nearby. She used a picture in the parlor to teach the warning of vanity. I think I like her! Eventually he attended the college where I graduated! In college, I even lived on the street that bore his name!
After this tour, we walk to his grandparent's settlement. When I was little, we got to ride on a buckboard pulled by mules! His grandparent's and great uncle were in the longhorn business. While the men would be away at cattle drives, the women and children would sometimes have to hide under their dogtrot cabin during Indian raids. Fortunately, it's more peaceful now, and we like to look for longhorn behind the wooden fence!
Then we drive to Stonewall, TX, less than 30 minutes away. This is the location of the LBJ National Historical Park. Here we get a bus tour. This bus has 2 cars, hooked up like a train. They give you commentary on the microphone, as they drive the tourists across the Pedernales River. One of the first stops is the one room school house LBJ attended. Next stop we get out of the bus to walk under huge Live Oak to his dog trot birthplace. Then we walk back to the buses....but before boarding we are allowed some time to view the family cemetary where LBJ is buried. Nestled above the Pedernales, under great Live Oaks, the place is peaceful. Last summer when we were there, the river was tranquilling spilling along and cattle from the LBJ Ranch were laying around enjoying the soft breeze. We even sighted some deer.
Then back into the bus and we arrive at the actual ranch where LBJ and Lady Bird have lived. This was a family ranch that LBJ loved visiting as a kid and finally came into ownership when his uncle (I think) passed away. The house on the ranch came to be known as the Texas White House...for obvious reasons! =) In fact, when the bus tour starts, across the river from the house, you see the guard shacks of the Secret Service...of course they aren't as busy anymore. We always have to stay in the bus when we get to the house, because it was still a private residence, home to Lady Bird. Never did we ever see a person on the grounds...until last summer!
A lady came out of the house and was waving to the bus...coming to the bus, and got into the bus! Our chagrin was that we were in the back car of the bus, so had to listen to Linda Robb (LBJ's daughter) over the microphone...which wasn't working well that day. After a few minutes with them, she came to see us in our bus!!! Linda asked all about us and where we were from, paying most attention to the kids. She said she lived in VA and her mother wanted her to come to visit everymonth. Lots of cousins would come in to visit. They had just gotten out of the front yard swimming pool. And while she was talking, her mother came out in a wheel chair, pushed by a nurse. Lady Bird had a big smile on her face and waved and waved! Linda said Lady Bird was thankful for every visitor to the ranch and wanted to greet each one personally, but couldn't. So she always pushed Linda out of the door to be sure to talk to the visitors and wish them well.
When I started this blog, I never dreamed I'd do a tribute to Lady Bird. I have always admired who she was and her work. Of course she is synonymous with preserving wildflowers. Down the road another 15 minutes or so is the Wildflower Seed Farms. It's not affiliated by her...but I'm sure it was influenced by her. Locally, she started a wildflower center in Austin.
My love of the Texas hillcountry...how much of that was influenced by LBJ? My love of flowers...how much of that was influenced by Lady Bird? Hmmmmmm........