Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson, 1912-2007

All the newspapers across the land are running obituaries of Lady Bird Johnson today. In the Chicago Tribune, the emphasis is on her beautification of American highways and environmental work. Because of Lady Bird, we now have many highways lined with wildflowers or other native plants.

The stories also talk about her concern for the poor and her kindness to anyone. I remember as a student at the University of Texas in the 1970s that she was the only member of the board of regents whose door was open to students. At a time when Frank Erwin and the other regents wanted to shut down the student newspaper, which kept investigating and reporting their crimes (university investments going to their own corporations), Lady Bird spoke up for the students. She was deeply respected across campus.

Our libraries have books about Lady Bird, including the attractive children's book Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America by Kathi Appelt. Recent biographies for adults include Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson by Jan Jarboe Russell and Lady Bird Johnson: Our Environment First Lady by Lewis L. Gould.

Lady Bird wrote some books herself, which are still widely available, Wildflowers Across America and A White House Diary.

It is a day for book displays.


Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

I'm going to have to check my library for a book about Lady Bird, the lovely lady with a gracious smile. She and Jackie O were great president's wives. :D

I loooove wild flowers and nature and can identify with Lady Bird's wanting to preserve them. I'm glad she'll sleep by the wild flowers' fragrant fields.


What a beautiful post. Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

RV-ing past beautiful wild flowers along the highways of Texas!
I always payed tribute to the Lady. First in jest, picturing her with trowel and packs of seeds.
So much more, so much more.

jorge said...

I actually met her in her home in Austin Texas. I was working for a graphic design studio and we needed to get a photo of her or something from her at her home (I can't remember what it was). She was so sweet.

As we said goodbye, she told me to wait a minute and turned around and cut a Tarragon stem with a bloom on it and handed it to me.

Such a sweet lady.

Jennifer P. said...

Lovely post! As a librarian and 11+ year resident of Austin who should have known this, I was charmed but not at all surprised to read about Lady Bird's open door policy during her tenure as regent at UT. They don't make them like her anymore; she will be missed.

One question for you: are you a UT library school grad? I am--MLIS '98. said...

A friend has asked for a book about Lady Bird Johnson...for Christmas. She says she thinks she wrote it before her death but did not want it published until after she died. They are letters or a journal she kept while she was First Lady. Any clue? Many thanks.