Austin Stories and Tips

LBJ Presidential Library and Museum

LBJ telling jokes.  Photo, Austin, Texas

This is a fabulous Library that is amazingly hard to find. There is a sign that tells you which exit to get off the freeway and then nothing. We drove by it the first time. I am so glad we found it because it ended up being one of our very favorite stops in Texas.

You begin your visit by watching an orientation film. Given the weather we watched with only one other couple. Entrance to the museum is free, LBJ wanted everyone to have access to the Library.

For someone who lived through the Johnson presidency I found that I was woefully ignorant about the man. What I came away from here with was a very strong admiration. Also a great deal of sadness that the war that he inherited so overshadowed all the really wonderful things that he accomplished.

Lyndon Baines Johnson is a true son of Texas, his grandfather came to Texas in the 1850s and built a log cabin in what is now Johnson City. His son Sam married Rebekah Baines and they had five children. Lyndon was the eldest and very close to his mother. She was well educated and more ambitious than her husband and I think she passed this on to her son. His father and his grandfather were both members of the legislature so politics came naturally to him

Lyndon went to teachers college and became a teacher to poor Hispanic students in Cotulla. This lasted only one year but made a lasting impression. He went on to become the secretary to Congressman Richard Kleberg. He used those four years in Washington to make valuable contacts. It was during this time that he met and married Claudia "Lady Bird" Taylor.

In 1937 he was elected to the House and spent eleven years there. Lady Bird was the perfect political wife, she also had a great deal of business acumen and it was through her efforts that their financial stability was guaranteed.

In 1948 he won the democratic nomination for the senate and then the race. By 1953 he had been nominated as the minority leader of the senate the youngest man to ever receive that honor. He was a tireless worker and in 1955 when the democrats regained control of the house he became the Majority leader. He worked so hard is health suffered and he had a major heart attack that same year.

He was the ultimate politician. He knew how Washington worked and he surprised a lot of people by accepting the VP position in 1960. He was thrust into the Presidency in 1963 but was reelected on his own right in 64. The Vietnam War got a lot of press, so much so that I had no idea how much had been accomplished during his presidency to help the underprivileged. He can be credited with the Head-Start program, Medicare, student loans, Upward Bound and Medicaid. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was one of the real highlights of his term.

We all loved this Library. There are loads of pictures and personal items. There is a wonderful picture of the family today with his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Come here with an open mind and at least two or three hours to spend.

Some of the things we loved:

The automatron Lyndon standing behind a fence telling jokes.

The cases of presidential gifts. It is amazing what they receive from foreign dignitaries.

The portraits of all the presidents and first ladies.

The copy of the Oval Office and Lady Birds Office.

The Presidential Limousine.

The desk where the Civil Rights Act was signed into law.

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